The first thing that stuck out for me about Eldest is the overall maturity of Paolini’s writing.. and the realization occurred to me rather quickly.
I love the fact that this installment picks up where Eragon left off. And at first, there’s plenty of action to keep this reader interested. But shortly after the epic battle involving Murtagh, the Twins, an invading horde of urgals, and many other participants, the story tapers off dramatically.
But despite said mediocrity, Paolini delves further into political intrigue, which I found very fascinating. I loved every word, and its implications.
Later on, Eragon and Saphira (along with their dwarf friend, Orik,) must travel to a far-off land known as Du Weldenvarden, to be trained by one of my absolute favorite characters of the series, Orimis.. or The Cripple That Is Whole. He’s an elderly, silver-haired elf. He’s also incredibly wise. But Eragon isn’t the only to receive training; Saphira learns many invaluable skills and knowledge through the elf’s dragon, Glaedr.
There are many memorable moments throughout the book, including the life altering ceremony referred to as the Blood-Oath Celebration.
While all this may sound interesting enough, the chapters involving Eragon’s cousin, Roran, are almost more engaging. It’s great to be reunited with him and the desperate residents of Carvahall (their former home,) and chronicles their action-packed exodus.
By alternating between these two very different elements of the story, Paolini is able to develop his characters quite well, which is always highly commendable. In so doing, he’s also taking the Inheritance Cycle into various, all-encompassing, directions.
In conclusion, if not for the epic battle near the end, featuring several mind-blowing revelations and emotional reunions, Eldest would be less than mediocre; it’s be plain old boring and tedious, in fact. But it does pay off, to a certain degree. Having said that, I can’t help but wonder if the 40 pages of preparations were really necessary. Admittedly, they had to be made, but I believe Paollini’s work (not to mention his loyal fans) would have been better off if it had been condensed.
As bad as this may sound, the end left me wanting to know what happens next.. surprisingly.