I’m back with another book review, and this time it’s “Eldest” by Christopher Paolini that opens up this month! I already reviewed the first book, “Eragon,” so I figured I might as well continue the series with the second one! Here’s a summary so we know what it’s about:
“Darkness falls…despair abounds…evil reigns…Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have just saved the rebel state from destruction by the mighty forces of King Galbatorix, cruel ruler of the Empire. Now Eragon must travel to Ellesmera, land of the elves, for further training in the skills of the Dragon Rider. Ages 12+.
Darkness falls…despair abounds…evil reigns…
Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have just saved the rebel state from destruction by the mighty forces of King Galbatorix, cruel ruler of the Empire. Now Eragon must travel to Ellesmera, land of the elves, for further training in the skills of the Dragon Rider: magic and swordsmanship. Soon he is on the journey of a lifetime, his eyes open to awe-inspring new places and people, his days filled with fresh adventure. But chaos and betrayal plague him at every turn, and nothing is what it seems. Before long, Eragon doesn’t know whom he can trust.
Meanwhile, his cousin Roran must fight a new battle–one that might put Eragon in even graver danger.
Will the king’s dark hand strangle all resistance? Eragon may not escape with even his life. . . .”
Basically, this book is split into three main plotlines.
- Eragon is aware of how inexperienced he is as a Rider, and so seeks training. Majority of his plotline is spent doing such training and also realizing exactly how important his role as a Rider is and how much that seriously affects everyone around him.
- Roran, Eragon’s cousin, ends up having to flee the Ra’zac and kind of fight them, and ends up establishing himself as a sort of military leader as a result.
- Nasuada, after her father dies, ends up having to deal with the politics of the Council and trying to sort out what’s best for the whole world at stake, basically.
The first two of these three main plotlines are more heavily expanded upon, with these two minor plotlines involved:
- Eragon’s almost-romance with Arya, which does not end with them getting together.
- Roran’s romance with Katrina, which does end up with them getting engaged but then Katrina gets kidnapped (and hopefully gets rescued next book).
Saphira and Eragon’s bond is, once again, one of the strongest character relationships in the book. We learn more about how Eragon’s role as a Rider affects him and Saphira together, and Saphira kind of takes on a mentor-like role like how Brom did last book. At times they act like brother and sister, sometimes Saphira becomes almost like a mother figure to Eragon, comforting him after Eragon’s romance with Arya doesn’t go as well as he hopes, and their bond was endearing to read.
I also liked Eragon’s interaction with the other characters, such as with Oromis, who basically becomes a huge mentor to Eragon in his Rider training and therefore provides a lot of worldbuilding information. In a sense, he’s Brom the second, but he doesn’t die. Yet. Some of the conversations Oromis and Eragon had with each other have a bit of ethics going into it, and I won’t elaborate on what they were about due to that spoiling too much, but they’re really interesting to read.
Nasuada was fun to read, overall. It’s clear she has an idea of what she’s doing (most of the time, compared to Eragon and Roran at least), and her political machinations are actually interesting to read. I hope to read more of it in the next book or so, because I think they will affect Eragon and Roran’s journeys greatly in the long term.
Some downfalls of the book included the main plotlines themselves. I would have loved to see way more of Nasuada’s plotline, mainly because it would be interesting to read more of the politics and scheming behind all the battle scenes Roran has as well as the constant training scenes Eragon has. Though Roran and Eragon’s plotlines provide for interesting worldbuilding regarding how a more common person like Roran is trying to change things, while Eragon adapts and grows into his role as Rider, reading more of Nasuada’s plotline could have showed more of the background/behind-the-scenes happenings of how everything is organized (or, how disorganized everything is because of Gallabatorix and his schemes).
Regarding the romances, I felt that it was a good thing that Arya and Eragon didn’t get together. Arya had good reasoning for her not being with Eragon in that way and it’s clear that she just wasn’t into him as much as he was into her. I’m glad he respected that, even if it meant his heart was broken. As for Roran and Katrina, their romance just felt…really flat, overall, and Katrina became nothing more than a love interest or a drive for Roran’s own character development, rather than her own person.
Overall, 3.5 out of 5 stars!