Thursday, 6 September 2012

Book Review: Eldest, by Christopher Paolini

Title: Eldest
Author: Christopher Paolini
Series: Inheritance Cycle, #2
Genre: YA high fantasy
Published: 01 January 2005
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 Ellesméra, 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, filled with awe-inspiring new places and people, 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. Will the king’s dark hand strangle all resistance? Eragon may not escape with even his life.
The least good book in the Inheritance Cycle, Eldest just doesn’t live up to Eragon.

Eldest starts right where Eragon ended. The Battle Under Farthen Dûr just ended, the Shade Durza has been killed by Eragon, who is now called Eragon Shadeslayer. Eragon must now go to Ellesméra, deep in the forest of Du Weldenvarden, to finish his training as Rider with the Mourning Sage. Eragon, Arya and Orik leave Farthen Dûr to go to the elven city without Murtagh, who disappeared shortly after the battle. Meanwhile, the Ra’zac appear in Carvahall seeking Roran.

Most of the plot focuses on Eragon’s training in Ellesméra, so, even though it is considerably longer than the first book, it contains much less action and battle scenes. Actually, most battle scenes focus on Roran, rather than on Eragon. The perspective of the story changes from Eragon to Roran back to Eragon constantly throughout the book, and it does get pretty tedious after a while.

There is quite the character development in Eldest. Eragon, for instance, goes from a rookie, barely trained Rider to a fully fledged Rider who respects life more than anything. He learns to read and write, he becomes versed in the Ancient Language. He becomes both knowledgeable and wise, thanks to the aforementioned Mourning Sage.

Roran, on the other hand, becomes a warrior who battles only when needed. He does not seek out battles. He actually despises battles, but knows that they are necessary. It could be said that he respects life even more than Eragon does.

The climax and ending were okay. They were unexpected, but I think they were too unexpected. There was no build-up to them whatsoever. They were just there. They could have used some seasoning, a bit of foreshadowing, maybe a tiny pinch of salt.

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