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Eldest by Christopher Paolini

Note: this post will contain spoilers if you haven’t read the first book (Eragon (Inheritance, Book 1)) which I highly recommend reading, and I’ll keep the spoilers minimal so it won’t ruin too much if you do read this post.

When I first read Eragon (book 1 of this series), I loved it, but then I just couldn’t get through Eldest when I tried. I was also only 13 years old so that might have been part of it. Almost ten years later, I found it a much more enjoyable read and I do recommend people rereading if they didn’t get through these books the first time.

Title: Eldest (series is Inheritance Cycle)
Author: Christopher Paolini
Pages: ~668 (hardcover)
Setting: A continent called Alagaesia in a fairly typical fantasy world with dragons, elves, dwarves and magic. The people of the continent don’t know what is beyond the sea, but it is known that elves, dragons and humans didn’t originate on this continent.
Premise: Eragon found a dragon egg and proceeded to run for his life in the first book. The second book opens with Eragon crippled and trying to sort out the aftermath of a battle in the rebels’ refuge. He needs to continue his training with the elves to become a full dragonrider and face the evil emperor of the continent who is a very old and powerful dragonrider, but he’s conflicted about some personal feelings as well.

Strengths:

  • Keeps the epic high fantasy feel going which is always fun
  • Paolini writes pretty good battle scenes really, and there are a few of them with the whole evil needing to be vanquished thing
  • A lot more about the world is revealed in this book, including  the fact that there are a lot of mysteries still to understand (and I hope they get covered in later books….)
  • The magic system is interesting and further explained and expanded on
  • The main characters’ imperfections make them more believable
  • Crazy plot twists that I never saw coming!

Weaknesses:

  • There is a teenage angst plot line that doesn’t get focused on too much, but is a bit annoying when it crops up
  • The extensive descriptions of scenery bored me in my first read through, and are likely to bore a younger audience, sometimes you have to be patient or okay with skimming
  • The book jumps between Eragon and a couple other characters’ perspectives and adventures and that can be a bit disorienting when you were just getting into the last plot line
  • The most knowledgeable beings we know of (the elves) still know depressingly little about the rest of the world, and I really hope that gets filled in in later books
  • At times the elves, dwarves and humans are a bit too stereotypical high fantasy, though not always

Summary: I found these two books to be very enjoyable evening reads. They are relaxing most of the time because of the traditional pacing, but I find myself happy to spend time in the world and wanting to know what happens next. The plot line doesn’t get too boring though because Paolini is able to write some good twists and I definitely didn’t see coming, but find very intriguing. I’m excited to read the next book, which I just got for my birthday and would love to hear your thoughts, but no spoilers for the last two books please :-). 

Footnotes: I’m planning to start including more non-review posts such as challenge updates, meta-reading posts and community posts. I’d also love to expand my blogroll, so please comment if you want to be added (and have added me) or have ideas for posts you’d like to see. Thanks for reading!

-A

© 2012 – 2013, Anya. All rights reserved.

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