Friday, June 15, 2012

Book Review: Eldest

Author: Christopher Paolini
Series: Inheritance #2
Publisher: Knopf Books for Young Readers
Release Date: August 23, 2007
Pages: 668

Summary: Darkness falls ... Despair abounds ... Evil reigns ... Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have just saved the rebel state from destruction by the mighty forces of King Galbatorix, cruel ruler of the Empire. Now Eragon must travel to Ellesmera, land of the elves, for further training in magic and swordsmanship, the vital skills of the Dragon Rider.

It is the 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. Meanwhile, his cousin Roran must fight a new battle back home in Carvahall - one that puts Eragon in even graver danger. Will the king's dark hand strangle all resistance? Eragon may not escape with even his life.

LC's Take:

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!

~Cover Talk~

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.

LC's Rating: 
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5 stars for an amazing, multidimensional story, awesome characters I could become emotionally invested in, and world-building that took me to a whole other place-- Eldest was another breath-taking book in the Inheritance series, and I cannot wait to get my hands on the next!

12 comments:

  1. I think you'll like the rest of the series :)

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  2. I still haven't read this series yet. My mom's been chipping away at the first book for almost a year now and I'm afraid to take it away from her because she might just eat me. :x Great review, Lea!

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  3. I haven't read this series, but it's been on my ever growing to read list forever now. Hopefully you enjoy the rest of the series! Great review, you've made me want to bump it up the list!

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  4. Honestly for me the Roran POV's were the worst part of this series. I always felt the in Eldest it just seemed like he was retracing Eragon's steps and it got worse and worse in Brisingr and Inheritance. But don't let my complaining fool you, I abosutly ADORE this series!!! I might have to reread them again when I have the time.

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  5. This is one of those series that I've always wanted to read but I have still not picked up. Shame on me. Im glad you love this series so much. it makes me want to read it even more now. Thanks for the great review!

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  6. I love Nasuada, too!-- so great to see a strong female character in a "dungeons and dragons" kind of fantasy book. I love Tolkien, but he doesn't have too many strong female characters in the Lord of the Rings. Glad you enjoyed Eldest-- I think you'll like Brisingr (much faster paced) and Inheritance (VERY fast-paced) even better. This series is definitely worth ploughing through all those pages-- they took me forever as well, mostly because I read the first book in middle school and had to wait for all the subsequent releases. Again, tho, very much worth it... great review.

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  7. Oh, I'm so glad you liked Eldest, too! This isn't my favorite book in the series *Inheritance is just... ah, SO GOOD*, but I agree with you, Lea, the character development in this installment in fantastic. I love Nasuada as well.. she's so strong. I mean, to lead the Varden.. can you imagine the responsability? :S
    I think you'll like Brisingr even more than you did Eldest :P It has a faster pace. I took forever to read these books, too... I recently finished INheritance, but I was so anxious to get my hands on it that when I did, I read it in 5 days o.O
    Anyway, I look forward to your review on the rest of the series!

    Best,
    Beatriz

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  8. Awesome review! I really enjoyed Eragon and have been meaning to continue the series but can never find the time to.

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  9. Great review! You have a fabulous blog! I’m an author and illustrator and I made some awards to give to fellow bloggers whose sites I enjoy. I want to award you with the Best Books Blog Award. There are no pass along requirements. This is just to reward you for all the hard work you do! Thank you so much for taking the time to read and review all these books for us authors and readers.

    Go to http://astorybookworld.blogspot.com/p/awards.html and pick up your award.
    ~Deirdra

    P.S. Since you are an avid reader I was wondering if I could interview you and get your insights into the books you enjoy. Send me an email: KnightessHope (at) gmail and I will send over the interview questions

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  10. I haven't read any of these yet, but my mom has and she loves them! And yes, the covers are so amazing. Love it when they look cool together on your shelf. :)

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  11. I'm so glad you're still loving the series!! I actually just started re-reading Brisingr, I've been re-reading the series as part of my re-read challenge this year and they just never get old!

    Can't wait to see what you think of the next 2 books :D

    <3
    Taylor

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