Series: Inheritance #2
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 23, 2007
When I went into this series, I knew that I was making a pretty big commitment. In order to finish the four books in the Inheritance series, I was aware that I was setting myself up for a story that comes in at a whopping 2,800 pages. Not exactly quick reading! However, after finishing Eldest, the second book in this series, I am so happy that I did decide to read these books, since they really do come together to make for one totally epic, high-fantasy adventure story.
The world-building in Eldest was once again fantastic. I said this about Eragon and I'll say it again-- I absolutely love when a book is able to take me away to another world, where each time I sit down to read another few chapters I am immediately transported to a fantastical, magical, otherworldly place. Christopher Paolini is able to paint an incredibly detailed and fully-formed setting for his story of Eragon and the Dragon Riders, and this is one of the number one reasons why I am so in love with these books-- it's like a mini-vacation every time I sit down to read them!
I really like how the story progressed in this one. It picked up the pace a bit from the first book, but it didn't rush through things too quickly either. Much of the story in Eldest is about Eragon and his dragon Saphira traveling to the Elf City of Ellesmera, where Eragon can be fully trained in the arts of being a Rider. But in the outside world of Alagaesia, the Varden is struggling to survive in the independent country of Surda, while the Empire under the evil King Galbatorix threatens war to any who stand in his way, and Eragon's home village of Carvahall is in danger of being totally annihilated...
One thing that you could definitely see in Eldest was a lot of character development-- Eragon especially has gone from an innocent and pretty head-strong boy to a much wiser and mature leader. After finding out that he is the only Rider in the Empire and thus the only person who can save everyone from Galbatorix, Eragon becomes much stronger and decisive as a character, and I loved that we could actually see those changes taking place.
Another character I really loved-- and trust me, there were many I liked!-- was Nasuada, the new leader of the Varden rebel force that stands against the Empire. She was the perfect example of a strong female leader who was not whiny or cruel or a man-hater, which is unfortunately the case in many YA books that try to portray the female lead as being "strong," but rather she was extremely loyal and wise and able to take on the responsibilities of a ruler. Also, I do like Arya but it just killed me to read about the rocky relationship between her and Eragon! She just seemed so distant-- which I'm sure was done on purpose-- but I want to know more about her and her story.
In Eldest, we are also introduced to a whole new perspective-- that of Eragon's cousin, Roran. Because the first book in this series was told completely from Eragon's point of view, it threw me off a little bit to unexpectedly add in a whole other POV. But as I read on, Roran's story back in Carvahall and his journey to save his village and his love Katrina began to take shape, and it became much easier to follow the flow of both stories at the same time. In the end, I became just as invested in Roran's side of things as in Eragon's.
So yes, I absolutely loved this book, and cannot wait to return to Alagaesia when I pick up Brisingr, the next book in this series! I may take a break for a little bit however, since I'm a pretty slow reader and it takes me forever to read through these. To anyone who loves fantasy stories, these books are definitely must-reads!
It's no secret that I am absolutely in love with the covers for this series. Probably the thing I like the most about them is that, not only do they stand out and look awesome by themselves, but when you put them all together, they look so amazing side by side. For me, these covers really do stand apart from all the other YA covers out there-- not just because of their subject matter (totally kick-ass looking dragons) but also because of the artwork that was done for them.