The thrilling second novel of the Inheritance Cycle, Eldest, by Christopher Paolini delivers magic, suspense, adventure within six-hundred sixty-eight delightful pages. Eldest is told in alternating perspectives between Eragon, Roran (Eragon’s cousin/adoptive older brother), and Nasuada (Ajihad’s daughter and new leader of the Varden.)
SPOILER ALERT: Proceed with caution if you have no read Eragon yet and would like to.
Eragon has survived his battle: the Battle of Farthen Dur (the rebel’s stronghold). But he has not emerged unscathed. After defeating the malicious Shade, Durza, Eragon suffers from intense bouts of pain in his back.
Meanwhile Murtagh, The Twins, and Ajihad, leave Farthen Dur to pursue the remaining Urgals (who attacked the rebels under Durza and Galbatorix’s influence.) The Urgals ambush and kill the group. Eragon grieves because he had grown close to Murtagh and Ajihad.
Amongst the rebels, Eragon must adjust to his new title: Shadeslayer. His incredible feat earns him respect. However, with Ajihad (the Varden rebel’s leader) dead, the power-hungry Council of Elders seek a successor who they can use as a puppet. Underestimating her, the Council of Elders choose Nasuada, Ajihad’s daughter who proves she’s more than capable of leading the Varden.
After carefully making moves necessary in a political game of support (not necessarily for power), Eragon leaved Farthen Dur to complete his Dragon Rider training with the elves of Ellesmera in Du Weldenvarden.
Arya (an elf) and Orik (a dwarf) accompany Eragon to the elves. Time passes differently in Ellesmera where the air is thick with magic and the ancient language.
During his time with the elves, Eragon grows and power, and in a way receives a respite from his travels. Eventually though, he must emerge as a changed boy from Ellesmera and assist the Varden in an epic battle between the Varden and its allies and Galbatorix’s forces.
Battles will test Eragon’s skills and courage. He will also learn the secret of his birth and who his father really is. Will Eragon survive and will he ever have his vengeance against the Ra’zac or see his brother again?
Nasuada, a courageous and intelligence young woman, must recover from her grief at her father’s death and prove herself to the Varden. She also must embrace the challenges of leadership, which includes hard decisions.
Meanwhile, back in Carvahall, Roran must pluck up the courage to propose to Katrina, his love interest. He also struggles with the realization that it is Eragon’s fault that the Ra’zac killed Garrow his father. When the Ra’zac arrive in Carvahall with Galbatorix’s soldiers, Roran flees. Eventually though, he must emerge from hiding and make a stand against the monsters who murdered his fathers.
Eldest was packed to the limit with information and action. The book did not upset any expectations, although I did think there were way too many characters, which sometimes hindered my reading. Like in Eragon, the writing was very good and I enjoyed the three POV characters account of the story. As usual, the characters were well-developed and earned your sympathy for them as they grappled with choices and guilt. The sequel to Eldest is just as good. There was also a fair amount of twists and turns and revealed betrayals, which made the book even more enticing. I’d definitely recommend this book to fans of Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings, traditional fairytales, and different characters.
Rating: Read It!
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Eldest is Book 2 of the Inheritance Cycle by Christopher Paolini. The other books are: Eragon (Book 1), Brisingr (Book 3), and Inheritance (Book 4.)