The Inheritance Cycle – Book 2: Eldest – By Christopher Paolini

Hi Jared,

The books in this series are longer than I remember. Regardless, today is the day of the big move. At this moment we are already up and frantically trying to finish packing. We pick up the truck this afternoon and hope to have everything in before it gets too dark. Early tomorrow morning we set out.

eldestTitle: Eldest
Series: The Inheritance Cycle; Book 2
Author: Christopher Paolini
Genre: Fantasy
Audience: Youth/Teen
ROTS Setting: UU, Medieval/Renaissance, Dragons, Magic, Higher Magic
Synopsis: 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. . . .
Recommendation: I recommend this series for pre- and early teens.

I’ll be honest with you, this book isn’t as good as the first one. The first was paced and plotted much better and I enjoyed it a lot more. Second books are always tricky and this had originally been intended to also be the middle book of the trilogy; later expanded. Middle books are notoriously difficult to get right and second books are inevitably compared to the first. This book is no different.

I’d have to say my single biggest issue is with Roran, one of two new POV’s and Eragon’s cousin. I’ve never liked Roran and found every page dull and tedious. I caught myself skimming and skipping through his chapters and I only felt mildly guilty for it. He’s a wish-fulfilling-Mary-Sue. Every point of conflict is glossed over as he inexorably becomes the stick figure the author envisioned. We could been given half the amount of page time and it all might have been more fulfilling. Basically he needed to become the “person” he is at the end so the author created the shortest semi-logical path and like magic, there he is.

Eragon’s own stumblings felt half artificial but there was a bit more care and we already had a books worth of time with him so it’s less jarring. While I wasn’t happy with the character it was tolerable…..unlike his cousin.

The plot is also a bit choppy, but I can’t tell if it’s mostly due to Roran POVs, which it honestly might be. Either way, the big reveal at the end needed some actual foreshadowing instead of the author purposefully keeping his characters ignorant. Thus the reveal was more an about-face than a plot twist. There’s also a couple of blatant plot holes entwining everything. And there are still inconsistencies with the hybrid (hard/soft) magic system.

There were some good things though. Mainly we get a look at elven society and more about the region’s history. (I can’t bring myself to call it a world.) Something else I hadn’t noticed before was the root ideologies of the elves, that their culture and society were based on. They’re all vegetarian, atheist, free-loving, magic-wielding immortals and the more I read the more I realized how sad and pathetic they are. It wasn’t one single thing but a ton of tiny insignificant ones that when put together paint a bleak and uninspiring picture of a race who can’t see a tree for the forest. I’ll be interested to see if my new discoveries hold true in the next few books.

In summary, it’s a passable work. The only reason to continue is mostly due to the first book and to hope things can improve. As I’ve said, it’s been a long time between reads and as a result I don’t know if my views on the next book will have changed.

Robert


LINKS

The Inheritance Cycle – Book 2: Eldest – By Christopher Paolini

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