Eldest is the second book in Christopher Paolini’s Inheritance Cycle. It continues the story of a young Dragon Rider named Eragon and his dragon Saphira as they continue their fight against the forces of the evil King Galbatorix. If you like dragons, war, magic, and epic tales of revenge and honor than you’ll like these books. Paolini is a young writer, and his style is a bit easier to read than authors like Tolkien.
The story picks up just a few days after the events of Eragon. The leader of the Varden, Ajihad, is suddenly attacked and killed. Murtagh is also attacked and presumed dead. Eragon’s scar that he got from fighting the Shade causes him to have seizures a few times a day, with no way to stop them. Things aren’t off to a cheerful start. Ajihad’s daughter, Nasuada, assumes control of the Varden.
Eragon and Saphira go off to Du Weldenvarden, home of the elves, to continue training as a Dragon Rider. When he arrives he meets Oromis and Glaedr. Oromis is the last true Dragon Rider and Glaedr is his dragon. Oromis is broken though, he can only do easy spells. Glaedr is missing a leg, he too is broken. Eragon also finds out that Arya is a princess. He starts to have feelings for her, but she doesn’t feel the same.
Oromis and Glaedr teach Eragon and Saphira what it means to be bonded. Eragon and Saphira become more dependent on each other and their connection grows even stronger. The Elves have a ceremony called the Blood-Oath Celebration, and Eragon is transformed into an Elf-Human hybrid, and he gets superhuman senses and gets stronger and stuff. Even better, his back gets healed and he no longer has seizures from doing normal Dragon Rider stuff. And even though he’s kinda Elvish now, Arya still won’t have him and so he’s sad about that.
While Eragon is learning more about magic and Dragon Ridering, the story occasionally flashes over to Roran, Eragon’s cousin. Galbatorix can’t get to Eragon easily, so he sends the Ra’zac to Carvahall to get Roran. Roran leads the people of Carvahall in a battle against the Ra’zac and they manage to hold their own, but Roran’s fiancé Katrina gets snatched by the Ra’zac. Roran vows to get her back, but until then he has to protect the people of Carvahall. He decides the best way to do that is to evacuate the town and get all the villagers to leave and join the Varden.
The Varden meets the evil king’s army for the Battle of the Burning Plains. Eragon and Saphira show up in time for the battle. Roran and the people of Carvahall show up in time too. And there’s fighting and violence and suddenly another Dragon Rider appears. And it’s Murtagh! He didn’t die, and now he’s working for Galbatorix.
A lot of people compare the first book to Star Wars, and you can definitely see similarities. Eldest has a lot of similarities to Empire Strikes Back. The protagonist finds a new mentor to train him, one who is even older and wiser than the previous one. He leaves his training early to help his friends in a fight. There’s a huge revelation involving family. And basically all the characters you know and love return and there’s a few new ones, and the story gets more complex and darker.
This is a fun fantasy novel. Paolini has a very clear idea for how his universe works. This book really explores how magic works in Alagaësia. There are rules and consequences if you break the rules, like he did in the subplot with Elva, the baby that he thought he blessed but actually cursed.
If you like Lord of the Rings or Game of Thrones but can’t get through a chapter in those books, you should try the Inheritance Cycle. It’s not an easy read, but it’s an easier read. It’s more like Rowling than Tolkien. There’s still a lot of detail, themes, and layers, it’s just presented in a more friendly fashion.
Critically Rated at 14/17