The second book in Christopher Paolini’s ‘Inheritance Cycle’, Eldest picks up where we left Eragon and his dragon Saphira, at the conclusion of its predecessor, Eragon. I’d really enjoyed Eragon (you can read my thoughts on it here), and so I was very keen to continue on with the next book. Thankfully I was not disappointed with what I read and I would even go so far as to say that it was even better than I had been expecting.
❊❊❊ SOME SPOILERS FOR ERAGON AHEAD ❊❊❊
The most notable problem for me in Eragon, was that it was rather slow in some parts. This was in part due to the fact that it followed the one protagonist, Eragon, the entire time. Eldest however, is split into three narratives which I much preferred as it kept things interesting and allowed for much more in depth plot as a whole.
The bulk of the story is centred around Eragon and Saphira as they complete their training as dragon and Rider in the elven stronghold of Du Weldenvarden. As well as honing his swordsmanship, Eragon also learns more about Alagaesia and it’s people, and the ancient language – the language of magic.
Meanwhile, following the victory in Farthen Dur over the army of Galbatorix, the Varden are on the move in anticipation of another strike against them by Galabatorix. Making their way to Surda – a country south of the Empire that is independent from Galbatorix – we are given a glimpse at the somewhat more political side of the war against the Empire, and are introduced to some new characters as well as seeing the development of some relatively minor characters from Eragon.
Finally, a character who appeared for the briefest of moments in Eragon returns. Eragon’s cousin Roran has returned to Carvahall following the events that caused Eragon to flee there initially. But instead of the quiet village life he expected to return to, he finds himself the target of the agents of Galbatorix, with no clear reason as to why this might be, aside from the certainty that it is something to do with Eragon.
...I had to keep covering the bottom of pages in case I accidentally read ahead and spoiled things. And then I'd cover my face with the book—
Heather Croxon (@heather_c3) March 19, 2015
Had Paolini stuck with the formula from his first book and simply followed Eragon on his travels, I would have been less than enthusiastic about reading the next book in the series. But moving around between the different characters and situations made what was already a fairly quick read, into one that I was basically unable to put down. The closing chapters particularly had me enthralled, which made it very difficult to read calmly on the train (you can see how excited I was in my tweets over on the right). As hoped, the writing had improved greatly from the first book and even better was the fact that I didn’t dislike Eragon as a character anymore. He is definitely much more grown up from the first book, and as he plays such an integral role in the overall plot, it was nice to read and not want to yell at him every five minutes.
Overall this was a thoroughly enjoyable read. Occasionally sequels pale in comparison to their predecessors, but this is not the case with Eldest. While it didn’t provide me with everything that I hoped for (I won’t tell you what though because I’d be sharing spoilers), it was enough to keep me wanting to read more in the series and actually be excited about it.
WHO YOU’LL LOVE – I’ve done a backflip and developed an attachment to Eragon. He was a much more complex character in Eldest and had lost much of the childlike petulance which followed him around in Eragon.
WHO SHOULD READ IT – Anyone in the world who hasn’t read it (but it’s probably best if you read Eragon first).
FAVOURITE QUOTE – “The elf was glorious in action, a perfect blend of control and untamed violence. He pounced like a cat, struck like a heron, and bobbed and weaved with the grace of a weasel.” (I liked this one because of the weasel bit. It made me giggle.)