Christopher Paolini’s Murtagh: sneak peek

Article | Issue: Dec 2023

Murtagh is an epic new fantasy from CHRISTOPHER PAOLINI, the internationally bestselling author of Eragon.

Read on for an extract.

ABOUT THE BOOK

Master storyteller and internationally bestselling author Christopher Paolini returns to the World of Eragon in this stunning epic fantasy set a year after the events of the Inheritance Cycle.

The world is no longer safe for the Dragon Rider Murtagh and his dragon, Thorn. An evil king has been toppled, and they are left to face the consequences of the reluctant role they played in his reign of terror.

Now they are hated and alone, exiled to the outskirts of society. Throughout the land, hushed voices whisper of brittle ground and a faint scent of brimstone in the air – and Murtagh senses that something wicked lurks in the shadows of Alagaësia. So begins an epic journey into lands both familiar and untravelled, where Murtagh and Thorn must use every weapon in their arsenal, from brains to brawn, to find and outwit a mysterious witch. A witch who is much more than she seems.

In this gripping novel starring one of the most popular characters from Christopher Paolini’s blockbuster Inheritance Cycle, a Dragon Rider must discover what he stands for in a world that has abandoned him. Murtagh is the perfect book to enter the World of Eragon for the first time . . . or to joyfully return.

EXTRACT

CHAPTER I

✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦ ✦

Maddentide

Will you go alone?

Murtagh gave Thorn a quizzical look. The red dragon sat crouched next to him atop the rocky hill where they had landed. In the fading dusk, the sparkle of the dragon’s scales was subdued, tamped down like coals in a banked fire, waiting for a breath of wind to flare back to brilliance.

‘What? You’d go with me?’

A wolfish grin split Thorn’s jaws, showing rows of sharp white teeth, each as long as a dagger. Why not? They already fear us. Let them scream and scurry at our arrival.

The dragon’s thoughts resonated like a bell in Murtagh’s mind. He shook his head as he unbuckled his sword, Zar’roc, from his waist. ‘You’d like that, wouldn’t you?’

Thorn’s jaws hung open wider, and his burred tongue ran across his chops. Maybe.

Murtagh could just picture Thorn stalking down a narrow street, scraping the sides of buildings with his armoured shoulders, breaking beams and shutters and cornices while folks fled before him. Murtagh knew how that would end, with fire and blood and a flattened circle of destruction.

‘I think you’d best wait here.’

Thorn shuffled his velvet wings and coughed deep in his throat. His way of laughing. Then perhaps you should use magic to change the colour of my scales, and we could pretend to be Eragon and Saphira. Wouldn’t that be fine sport?

Murtagh snorted as he laid Zar’roc across a patch of dry grass. He’d been surprised to discover that Thorn had a trenchant sense of humour. It hadn’t been readily apparent when they’d been bonded, partly because of Thorn’s youth and partly because of . . . attending circumstances.

For a moment, Murtagh’s mood darkened.

No? Well then, if you change your mind—

‘You’ll be the first to know.’

Mmm. With the tip of his snout, Thorn nudged the sword. I wish you would take your fang. Your claw. Your sharpened affliction.

Murtagh knew Thorn was nervous. He always was when Murtagh left, even for a short while. ‘Don’t worry. I’ll be fine.’

A puff of pale smoke rose from the dragon’s flared nostrils. I don’t trust that shark-mouthed skulker.

‘I don’t trust anyone. Except for you.’

And her.

Murtagh faltered as he went to one of the saddlebags that hung along Thorn’s side. An image of Nasuada’s almond eyes flashed before him. Cheekbones. Teeth. Parts and pieces that failed to sum the whole. A memory of her scent, accompanied by a yearning and a sor[1]row, an aching absence for what might have been and now was lost.

‘Yes.’ He couldn’t have lied to Thorn even if he wanted to. They were too closely joined for that.

The dragon was kind enough to return the conversation to safer ground. Do you think Sarros has scented anything of interest?

‘It would be better if he hasn’t.’ Murtagh excavated a ball of brown twine from the saddlebag.

But if he has? Do we fly toward the storm or away?

A thin smile stretched Murtagh’s lips. ‘That depends on how violent the storm.’

It may not be obvious. The wind can lie.

He measured a length of twine. ‘Then we’ll continue sniffing about until it becomes obvious.’

Hmm. As long as we can still change course if need be.

 

ABOUT THE AUTHOR

CHRISTOPHER-PAOLINIChristopher Paolini’s love of fantasy and the natural beauty that surrounds his home in Montana inspired him to begin writing the Inheritance Cycle at 15. He became a number one bestselling author at 19 and spent the next decade immersed in the world of Alagaësia. Also an accomplished artist, Christopher drew the interior art for the books. In his spare time he enjoys sharpening knives, playing video games, lifting heavy things and searching for the perfect leather-bound notebook.

Visit Christopher Paolini’s website

 

Author: Christopher Paolini

Category: Fantasy

Book Format: Paperback / softback

Publisher: Penguin

ISBN: 9780241651346

RRP: $32.99

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