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Is Christopher Paolini the hottest author since J.K. Rowling?

November 11, 2011

The Independent over in the U.K. certainly thinks so. Here in the U.S. of A, the final volume in his Eragon series sold half a million copies its first day. So, naturally the Miami Book Fair has him as its opening act.

Poalini takes the stage at the Chapman Conference Center, the fair’s most capacious venue on Sunday at 4 p.m. Doubtless, he’ll need each one of the 800 seats to satisfy local fans of his incredibly popular fantasy series about a boy and his dragon and their quest for justice.

But then Miami Book Fair International has always had a lovely knack for snaring not only distinguished but also hot authors (sometimes the same thing!). Paolini isn’t the only one in attendance this year.

Miami Book Fair International debuts Sunday at 4 p.m. with Christopher Paolini and continues for eight glorious days. Visit the Miami Book Fair International website to see the schedule and the glittering author list (Roseanne Cash! Russell Banks! Karen Russell! Michael Ondaajte! Hundreds more! Literally!).

Consider: Nicole Krauss (The Big House), Jeffrey Eugenides (The Marriage Plot) Colson Whitehead (Zone One), Susan Orlean (Rin Tin Tin), and the two young debut superstar novelists, Tea Obreht (The Tiger’s Wife) and Erin Morgenstern (The Night Circus).

Those writers are not just good or popular — they are sizzling! And none is more of the moment than Christopher Paolini. As often mentioned, his own story is almost as interesting as the fantastic tales in his novels.

Paolini was a home-schooled 15-year-old when he began writing Eragon, the first book in the series. His parents self-published the book, which he sold himself at schools and Renaissance fairs in Montana, where he’s from. Carl Hiaasen picked up a copy on vacation, recommended it to his publisher, and Paolini had a bestseller and hordes of juvenile fans before he turned 21.

Since then Paoline, now 27, has written three more volumes, including the latest and final in the saga, The Inheritance. which came out last week with a global print run of 3.5 million hardcover copies, according to The Bookseller.

Not only did The Inheritance arrive with the biggest pre-order since the last Harry Potter book in 2007, according to the Independent, it also knocked the Steve Jobs biography out of the No. 1 spot at Amazon.com.

Paolini told the Independent he was “really happy and amazed” that the new book seems to appeal to readers of all ages, adding, “”I’m excited about the story, but that’s never any guarantee other people will feel the same way.”

Not everyone does feel that way. As Yvonne Zipp wrote at the Washington Post, some “critics, including this one, noted the novel’s debt to everyone from J.R.R. Tolkien and Anne McCaffrey to George Lucas. (I caught a David Eddings reference or two in the new one.) ”

In a separate article, Zipp cautions parents that The Inheritance is too violent, particularly for a protracted torture scene of a major female character, for her 10-year-old. She suggests 12 and up.

Zipps review is mostly positive, however, and she concedes the devotion of Poalini’s legions of fans. Twenty-five million readers can’t be dismissed. Those may not Rowling numbers, but they are as close as anyone’s likely to come since Jo closed down Hogwarts.

Paolini tells the Bookseller his next effort, now that the Eragon series is concluded, will be science fiction.

If you can’t get enough of all things Paolini, he has an essay on what it was like to finish the series he started at 15 at the Wall Street Journal.

And of course if you show up at the downtown campus of Miami Dade College on Sunday at 4 p.m., you can ask him questions yourself.

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