Title – Eldest
Series – The Inheritance Cycle #2
Author – Christopher Paolini
Genre – Fantasy
Length – 704 pages
Published – 7 September 2006
My Rating – ★★★★
After my excitement about Paolini’s first book, I could not wait to get my hands on the sequel – Eldest. I mentioned in my previous post that I was sharing the book with a friend. However, I simply had to read the book first and consumed it in a matter of days! There were so many open questions for me by the end of “Eragon”:
What happened to Roran and Eragon’s home village after he left? What about Eragon’s training? If Brom (read more about him here) could survive as a dragon rider, did others too?
As you can tell, my expectations for the sequel were set high and it certainly delivered! The story picks up in the days following the big battle that concludes the previous book. While the rebel group – the Varden – are without a doubt victorious, there is no time to recuperate. Events unfold that drag Eragon and Saphira into the treacherous world of politics. With all the different fractions trying to claim the support of the only sill living and free dragon and rider (apart from king Galbatorix that is) for themselves, Eragon and Saphira manage to circumnavigate the maelstrom of politics and continue their journey. While Eragon and Saphira are send to the elves to finish their training under their mysterious teachers, the Varden openly revolt against the empire and mass in its south. The next big battle seems inevitable. In the meantime, king Galbatorix targets Roran – Eragon’s cousin – hoping to lure Eragon into a trap. This brings their whole home village in danger and entangles the isolated villagers in the great scheme unfolding in Alagaësia.
Paolini’s sequel drags the reader into a pressure cooker with a steadily increasing temperature. In Eldest, the plot is alternating between Roran’s and Eragon’s adventures, which gives a great change in perspective on the events that take place. There is a stark contrast in the two characters that really becomes more tangible during the story. Roran proves to be a natural leader who is both cunning and ruthless if need be. Eragon on the other hand grows into a scholar-warrior type and while he and Saphira struggle through their studies to become true rider and dragon, both show the normal symptoms of adolescence – unanswered love, growing in body and (maybe not as fast) in mind as well as rebellious tendencies.
This mix creates extremely relatable characters in a progressively more complex world. Poalini deftly creates a world that can proudly lift its head in the company of its fellows in the fantasy genre. So, in my opinion this is a really good sequel that represents a major step-up from “Eragon”. It develops both the characters and the world in a realistic way and manages to answer many of my questions, while opening new ones – keeping the readers on their toes for the third book of the series.