Darkness falls…despair abounds…evil reigns.
Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have just saved the rebel state from destruction by the forces of King Galbatorix, cruel ruler of the Empire. Now Eragon must travel to Ellesmera, land of the elves, for further training in magic and swordsmanship, the vital skills of the Dragon Rider. It is the journey of a lifetime, each day a fresh adventure. But chaos and betrayal plague him at every turn, and Eragon isn’t sure whom he can trust.
Meanwhile, his cousin Roran must fight a new battle back home in Carvahall – one that puts Eragon in even graver danger…
The rebel freedom fighters, the Varden, has just won their first confrontation with Galbatorix’s army, Eragon has defeated the Shade Durza with the help of Saphira and Arya earning him a new name – Eragon Shadeslayer. Murtagh has finally gained the trust of the Varden and Hrothgar, king of the Dwarves. Yet as everything seems to be looking positive for a while, the Varden are given a final blow. Ajihad, leader of the Varden, is betrayed by two of his closest advisors, and is killed on the very day the Varden are celebrating. A day of victory becomes a day of mourning. Along with this, Murtagh is kidnapped and clouded by a spell, making it impossible for Eragon to know if he is alive or dead. With the leadership of the Varden and their magicians in doubt, Eragon finds himself being wormed deeper into politics of the rebel army. Forced by the new leader to sear fealty to them and not the Varden, Eragon is beginning to gather more oaths then he is able to bear.
The Varden decided to move. Heading to near-by Surda to start their campaign against King Galbatorix, there is limited time for Eragon to learn what he needs to know, and the place he needs to learn it, is on the opposite side of the Empire. In the ancient city of the elves, Eragon receives instruction from a surprising teacher, being schooled in the finer points of magic, the ancient language and swordsmanship, yet even under the most careful tutorage, an old injury is holding Eragon back. As Eragon struggles with his new education, people in his past being to capture the attention of the Empire.
Roran, Eragon’s cousin, is faced with the tough decision that will define the rest of his life – to stay and Carvahall and fight a lost battle, or to move the whole town and to seek help in Surda, where members of Carvahall have only heard whisper’s of the legendary Varden. It is a decision that will cost Roran in more ways than one.
Eldest is the second instalment in Christopher Paolini’s the Inheritance Cycle, and starts right where Eragon left off. In Eldest we are now following three different points of view and three separate storylines, as Paolini introduces even further complications and obstacles in the path of all characters in the plot. We have Eragon and the elves, Roran and the people of Carvahall and Nasuada and the Varden. With three distinct and different series of events, it is easy to get lost in story, and Paolini’s handle on the multiple viewpoints rarely left me struggling for understanding.
Eragon’s character continues to develop, and in Eldest we glimpse many of Eragon’s future problems and being to get a grasp on the extreme and vast differences between the three cultures. Eragon’s attempt at trying to master these three cultures sometimes gets him into a spot of bother, and it is these moments of insecurity and failure that allowed me to connect with Eragon on a personal level – they are mistakes that I would have done in his place. The relationship between Eragon and Arya develops to a new level, and while I feel I know where this will end up, it seems that there will be some twists and turns to see it arrive in that place.
We are re-introduced to Roran, and he, along with the Carvahall villager’s, plays a much larger role in this novel than in Eragon. Roran, for me, lacked as a character. He seemed to be driven by one singular thought, and lacked reason or compassion for people around him. That being said, it was these characteristics that drove his plot and story, I just found his point of view difficult and trying to read from.
Eldest is filled with a lot more darkness and evil than seen in Eragon, slowing highlighting the true horror of Galbatorix’s reign on Alegaesia. Captivating from the shock beginning to the even more shocking ending, Eldest is the must read sequel for fans of Eragon. A truly compelling page-turner that had me reading from the first page, to the last.