Eldest expounds and grows off of what readers already know of Christopher Paolini’s world of Alagaësia.
After a tumultuous battle, the battle for Farthen Dur, Eragon and his blue dragon Saphira must travel to the land of the elves to complete their training. This is one of my favorite parts of the book, because I get to see Eragon and Saphira learn from their older teachers. The information that each learn is interesting–everything from endurance while flying to learning more of the ancient language.
During Eragon and Saphira’s stay in Ellesmera, the capital of the elves, they get to experience the Blood-Oath Celebration. This celebration–which lasts three days–honors the pact that was made between the elves and the dragons long ago after the terrible Dragon War. This allowed the elves to gain their immortality and the dragons their magic. Told in confused snippets by Eragon, I got to experience the celebration through him, which sounded pretty fun. Dancing, merriment, and the sharing of talents were all present these three days.
Towards the end of the celebration, Eragon receives a rare gift. On the third day, two elves called the Caretakers, who have the tattoo of a dragon on their skin, danced and chanted in the ancient language. The powerful words, as well as the dance itself, causes the dragon to break free of the twins skin. The dragon touches Eragon’s shining palm, and ends up healing the pain in his back and removing the scar that he got from the Shade Durza in Eragon. Eragon also realizes that he has become a hybrid: he’s not entirely human, nor is he entirely an elf. His senses, as well as his physical speed, has grown stronger.
The novel ends with yet another battle, this time taking place on the Burning Plains. Once more, Eragon and Saphira must kill in order to survive and help the Varden, freedom fighters outside of the Empire and the evil king, Galbatorix. During this battle, Roran, who has been motivated by the Ra’zac taking his finance, Katrina, sees his cousin Eragon for the first time while abroad the Dragon Wing. Roran decides to fight rather than stay put, as Eragon orders, and ends up killing the vile Twins as a result.
Meanwhile, Eragon and Saphira end up fighting a new Dragon Rider on a red dragon. While fighting away from the main battle, Eragon recognizes the new Rider as Murtagh, a friend of his who traveled with them to Farthen Dur. He is also Morzan’s son. Eragon is told, by Murtagh–who is much stronger because of the dark magic that he learned from the king–that he is also the son of Morzan. This knowledge devastates Eragon.
While being held in place by a spell, Eragon has his sword, Ra’roc, taken from him by Murtagh. Murtagh, as the eldest son of Morzan, is more deserving of the deadly weapon than Eragon.
Without a weapon, Eragon and Saphira relay their newfound information to Lady Nasuada, the new leader of the Varden since her father, the previous leader, was killed at the beginning of the book by the Twins. Eragon promises to save Katrina from the Ra’zac with Roran.
Overall, I enjoyed this book immensely. Eragon’s growth as a character and as a Rider only increases in Eldest. The battles were intense as ever in this book, and the training segments in Ellesmera were interesting. This is one of my favorite books in the Inheritance Cycle so far.
I apologize for the summary-like quality of this review. Bear with me; I’m still learning!