A Boy's Novel Fantasy

Christopher Paolini is just like any other kid: he wrote a medieval fantasy novel full of dragons, dwarfs and Old Norse at 17, his homeschooler parents self-published it, and novelist Carl Hiaasen's young stepson read the book while fly-fishing. But then things took an odd turn. Hiaasen's publisher Knopf bought Eragon, as the book is titled, and Paolini's next two for six figures. Now Eragon is outselling four of the five Harry Potter books. Paolini, 19, may go on to college or, he says, "take a vacation." That is, if he can find a place where they speak Old Norse.

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