Book Review: ‘Eldest’ by Christopher Paolini

Posted: 9 December 2012 in Book reviews
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‘Eldest’ is the second book in the Inheritance series by Christopher Paolini.  It begins three days after the defeat of the Urgals in Farthen Dûr.  Eragon has woken after these three days to find a debilitating scar down the length of his back.  Stabbing pain strikes without warning which makes it difficult for him to fight or do much of anything.  Angela helps him as much as she can, but even her magic can’t help him.  His only hope is that the elves can heal his back.

Before he can leave, things take a turn for the worst when Ajihad (the leader of the Varden) is killed and Murtagh and the twins go missing.  After much debate, Ajihad’s daughter Nasuada is named his successor and Eragon swears fealty to her (much to the ire of the Council of Elders).  Once her acceptance is announced to the people, she sends Eragon to the elves to complete his training.

Orik and Arya accompany Eragon and Saphira.  As they are on their way out, Orik extends an offer for Eragon to become a member of his and the dwarf king Hrothgar’s clan, Dûrgrimst Ingeitum, which he accepts.  This does not go over well with some of the dwarf clans they encounter in Tarnag.  For this reason they cannot stay there long and soon are off up the river to the edge of Du Weldenvarden.

Finally they reach Ellesméra, the capitol city of the elves.  He is amazed to learn the Arya is actually a princess and that the Mourning Sage (who helps him overcome the influence of the shade Durza while Eragon is in his coma) is actually a rider who has been hiding with the elves since the riders were destroyed by Galbatorix and the Forsworn.  Oromis (the rider) becomes his Master and teaches him the secrets of the riders.

Eragon struggles though.  The scar on his back makes it difficult to spar (not to mention having a sparring partner who openly despises you) or do much of the other training he is required to do, but he tries.  It is not until the almost the end of the Agaetí Blödhren (an Elvish holiday) that he is blessed by dragon magic and becomes an elf/human hybrid and his back is healed.  Of course he then pretty much ruins the already strained relationship with Arya but once again confessing his love to her.  The next day she has left to go to back to the Varden and he is distraught.

One day Eragon scries her and learns that the Varden is under attack by Galbatorix’s army.  He announces his decision to leave to Oromis and Islanzadí and after some quick preparation leaves with Orik.  They arrive just in time for battle.  The troops are amassed, the dwarves are on their way, and a pact is made with the Kull/Urgals (much to Eragons chagrin).

While all this is going on, Roran (Eragon’s cousin) has learned of his father’s death and is extremely angry with Eragon.  Soon soldiers and the Ra’zac return for him.  After much death on both sides, Roran helps the town escape, but not before his fiancé Katrina is kidnapped by the Ra’zac through deception by her father Sloan.  The town’s only option is to flee Surda and join the Varden.  So they do.  After much lying, deception, and more death, the arrive in Surda after the battle has begun.

So I’ll stop there.  Giving my opinion about certain parts of this book are going to be a challenge, but I will do my best.  I love the plot and the story.  So much work was done in regards to the development.  There really isn’t much more I can say about it that I haven’t said in the post for ‘Eragon’.

I have to say that I was pissed off when Murtagh was killed off.  He was by far my favourite character and so much better than Eragon and Saphira.  Combined.  They both are ridiculous.  You know when Harry Potter gets really obnoxious in Book 5?  Eragon and Saphira are like that through the entire thing.  I understand that he is only in his mid to late teens, but come on.  He is so ridiculous.  His emotions are all over the place and he can’t seem to decide what he wants, likes, feels, dislikes, etc, except for that he is in love with Arya.  He knows that very well.  Then there is Saphira who constantly acts superior to Eragon and looks down on him.  Then there are the moments they act like children and won’t talk to each other because they are embarrassed.  Keeping up with their ever constant emotional roller coaster is exhausting.  Eragon then makes the comment that Oromis taught him to think, but then he can’t even get over his hate for the Urgals/Kull until he has to read their minds to check for duplicity.  If the story wasn’t so good, I might be too annoyed with them to continue reading.  At least Rowling waited until Book 5 to make Harry an annoying teenage girl.

Roran is definitely a tough character.  He is just as stubborn as Eragon, but he seems to be made of tougher stuff than Eragon is.  He doesn’t like some of the things he has to do, but he does them because someone has to.  He doesn’t complain about what needs to be done, but he does wonder whether he has made the right choices and whether he can save everyone.  He has to be hard and through it he earns the loyalty of the village although not all respect him.  He is a well developed character and one I would not like to cross.

Nasuada is a crafty character.  Her lot is to lead the Varden from their mountain hideout to Surda to prepare for the attack on Galbatorix.  She is smart and resourceful and not too proud to seek council from those she trusts.  She is a natural leader.  time after time she earns the respect of the people through her wisdom, compassion and willingness to do what is right.

Something that the author does that is unnecessary is that he likes to use words that most people don’t know, like ‘ablution’.  I had to look that up and it really isn’t even used correctly.  No it isn’t bad to use big or complex words, but use them correctly or don’t use them if the word is to alien.

Of course I’m going to say to read it.  Yes it is a complex read as it is overly descriptive, but the story is wonderful and worth the read.  Lots of work was taken to create this and it shows.  There are many truly beautiful scenes and the final chapters of the book drive me insane, but in a good way. Enjoy 😉

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Comments
  1. Idebenone says:

    It is widely believed that, after being ‘transformed’ by the elves as he was, a fully replenished Eragon could have defeated Murtagh in a fair duel (Ha. Likely…. *rolls eyes*). The fact is that Eragon was fighting for hours and hours before Murtagh even took the field (so??). No real evidence is given of any advancement of Murtagh’s sword skills, while Eragon is given the heightened physical abilities of an elf. Indeed, Eragon managed to go blade to blade with Murtagh until he literally collapsed with exhaustion. On these grounds, it is probable that Murtagh wouldn’t have lasted very long against Eragon at full strengh (you keep thinking that…). Certain fans disagree (hell yes we do). Murtagh had been learning black magic (mmmmm….) of which the elves do not even speak (SUCKAS!); in addition, he knows his true name. Both these things give him advantages over Eragon (other than the obvious…). Finally, Murtagh has also been said to be more powerful even than Morzan (*shiver* hell yes he is…!). In a sword fight, however, it seems that Eragon’s heightened agility, speed and power could help him, as long as he could avoid Murtagh’s obvious magical powers (Eragon, Shm-eragon! MURTAGH KICKS ASS!).

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