Overview from www.bn.com: Darkness Falls…Swords Clash…Evil Reigns.
Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have just saved the rebel state from destruction by the mighty forces of King Galbatroix, 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 a 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.
Eldest continues the story of the protagonist of the Inheritance Cycle and also brings back Eragon’s cousin Roran. I might have mistakenly referred to Christopher Paolini’s books as the Eragon series but after looking it up on Barnes & Noble’s website, I have discovered that I was wrong.
The reintroduction of Roran was somewhat unexpected to me yet it makes perfect sense and also makes the story even better than it would have been otherwise. The last story focus almost exclusively on Eragon, leaving Roran hanging and us wondering what has happened to him. Does he get forgotten? Does he become a slave to Galbatroix? Now we get to find out.
To my surprise, I found Roran’s story, as well as his take on things, no less compelling than Eragon. In fact, in certain parts of the novel I was more interested in what was happening to Roran than what was happening to Eragon.
He too changes a great deal throughout his journey. He does what he has to do to survive, much like Eragon. At times he finds he doesn’t like himself for what he has done but continues to do it when he thinks he has no other choice.
But more than that, he becomes a leader. Whether he set out to lead or just felt that there was no other way isn’t entirely clear to me as I imagine it wasn’t entirely clear to Roran but nevertheless he becomes the kind of man who other men will follow.
Initially all he wanted to do was to rescue Katrina, the girl he was to marry, without abandoning the lives of the other citizens of Carvahall. To that end, he convinces the majority of the citizenry to join him on his quest to join the Varden in Surda. It is the only way, he concludes, that he can keep his promise to himself to keep the people of Carvahall safe, and get help to rescue Katrina at the same time. It is a noble goal.
Yet, I cannot forget about Eragon. He now goes to train with the elves in Ellesmera, a place very few humans have seen. There he undergoes a transformation of his own. He becomes kinder yet stronger (both physically, mentally, and emotionally all at the same time). He finally proves to even his detractors among the Elves and the Varden that he is the leader they had hoped for and along the way he also becomes an honorary dwarf.
Eldest is a great addition to the series which apparently concludes with the next two books. I am looking forward to seeing how it all concludes. I am anxious to see if Roran and Eragon can free Katrina before it is too late as well as learning what horrors she has been exposed to as a captive of the Ra’zac. Any fan of epic fantasies should also love this story though it is a bit long.