“Eldest”
Inheritance, Book Two
by Christopher Paolini
Published 2005 by Knopf Books for Young Readers

Christopher Paolini continues to amaze me.  After reading “Eragon,” the first book in what is book one of the Inheritance series (three books have been written and it is rumored there is a fourth book on the way.), I was totally sucked in to the fantasy world where dragons, elves, dwarves and magicians exist and an evil king has tried to destroy all Dragon Riders.  Now with book two I just couldn’t hardly put the book down.  When finishing the first book I looked up information on the author and found out the book was written when he was only 15 years old. An amazing feat in and of itself, but to be able to create this fantasy world with many depths that’s a serious job for any author,no matter what the age.  This second book was published when the author was in his early 20s so now that he’s got his style and his world created the books can only get better, as this one does.

In book one, “Eragon,” the reader was taken on a quest in which Eragon and his Dragon, Saphira, learned of the reason behind their bonding and the development of their skills as Eragon sought revenge on the Ra’zac for the killing of his uncle.  He eventually was taken to the Varden, both to save Arya (the elf that sent the dragon’s egg to Eragon,  and to escape King Galbatorix’s wrath. Along the way Eragon learns his travelling companion, Brom, is a former rider.  They also are rescued at one point by Murtagh who joins them on their trip to the Varden, although he says he cannot complet they journey to Farthen Dûr, the home of the Varden. When they arrive in Farthen Dûr, Eragon is led to the leader of the Varden, Ajihad. Ajihad imprisons Murtagh after finding out that he is the son of Morzan, Galbatorix’s right hand man.

“Eldest”  begins three days after the events of the preceding novel, “Eragon,” in the dwarf city of Tronjheim, inside of a hollowed mountain of Farthen Dûr. Farthen Dûr is in the southeastern part of Alagaësia, the continent in Paolini’s world where all this action takes place.  Eragon must complete his mission and be trained as a dragon rider, to do so he must journey to Ellesméra, the elven capital city located in the forest Du Weldenvarden, on the northern portion of Alagaësia. Before he leaves,Eragon must attend the funeral for the fallen leader of the Varden,  Ajihad. Ajihad is ambushed and killed, with Murtagh while Ajihad’s other guards are assumed dead. At his funeral, Ajihad’s daughter Nasuada is elected to command the Varden. Eragon travels to Ellesméra where he meets Oromis and his dragon Glaedr, the only dragon and Rider secretly alive besides the Eragon and Saphira and Galbatorix. Oromis and Glaedr, however, are both crippled, and so cannot fight Galbatorix and must hide instead to avoid Galbatorix hunting them down. Eragon and Saphira are taught the use of logic, magic theory, scholarship, and combat, among other things.

Back in Farthen Dûr, Nasuada chooses to move the Varden from Tronjheim to Surda, to mount an attack on the Empire. The Varden suffers financial troubles, so Nasuada decides to fund the Varden and the war with Lace.  The lace is magically produced and they can sell it cheap. One night when Nasuada is in her room, Elva saves her from an assassination attempt. Elva is the child which Eragon and Saphira blessed, the problem is that this was before Eragon was adept at the ancient language used in magic and accidentally curses her to BE a shield rather than TO BE shielded. Elva locates the assailant, who is killed after unwillingly surrendering information to Varden magicians about a subversive group based in Surda called the Black Hand, who is plotting to kill Nasuada. Nasuada later attends a meeting with key figures in Surda’s government to discuss a potential upcoming battle against the Empire. They learn that the conflict is coming sooner than they initially suspected, and mobilize forces to attack, as well as sending for help from the dwarves.

Eragon continues his training, but is discouraged when the scar on his back, caused by the Shade he killed, causes him to have seizures. At the ancient elven ceremony, the Agaetí Blödhren, Eragon is altered by a spectral dragon. The changes alter his senses, and enhance his abilities, as well as healing all of his wounds. Reinvigorated, Eragon continues training until he learns that the Empire will soon attack the Varden in Surda. He leaves without completing his training, to aid the Varden in battle, much like Luke Skywalker left Yoda before his training was finished.  I just found this a very neat similarity.

Meanwhile, Roran, Eragon’s cousin, is hunted by the Ra’zac in Carvahall. He eventually persuades the entire village to attack the Ra’zac in the night, and succeeds in driving them off. After more conflicts with the village, the Ra’zac manage to kidnap Katrina, Roran’s fiancée. Roran then stirs the village to mobilize, departing on a journey to join the Varden in Surda. He leads them to Narda, and then by sea to Teirm. In Teirm, they meet Jeod, who helps them pirate a new vessel from Teirm. Pursued by sloops from the Empire, the vessel manages to escape through a whirlpool, and eventually makes it to Surda, arriving just as the Battle of the Burning Plains is about to begin between Surda and its allies, and the Empire.

When conflict begins, Eragon is able to repel the opposing army using magic. Eventually, a Dragon Rider appears in favor of the Empire. The hostile Dragon Rider kills the dwarf king Hrothgar, and soon begins to fight with Eragon. The Dragon Rider is soon unmasked by Eragon and is revealed to be Murtagh. Murtagh tells Eragon that he was kidnapped and forced into loyalty by Galbatorix after a dragon hatched for him. Murtagh outmatches Eragon, but shows mercy due to their old friendship. Before leaving, Murtagh reveals that Eragon is his brother, and takes Eragon’s sword as well. Ultimately, Galbatorix’s army is forced to retreat after the arrival of the dwarves and the departure of Murtagh and Thorn. In the end, Eragon and Roran decide that they will seek out Katrina together.

Lots of adventure, lots of excitement all very well portrayed and with some magical storytelling that will suck you into this alternate world.

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