Eldest

001

 

by Christopher Paolini

Published 2005

This is the second book in Paolini’s Inheritance series (the first is Eragon) and continues the story of Eragon and Saphria.  Eldest was a little lighter on the action than the first book.  Throughout, Eragon and Saphria spend most of their time hanging out with the elves, receiving more training and education from them.  Still, as with Eragon, the author does a good job of creating a story that fits as its own story, yet serves as a link between stories as well.  Most of the action in Eldest takes place away from Eragon, with Eragon’s cousin (Roran) and with the Varden (the group of rebels seeking to overthrow the evil king) as they prepare for war.  Paolini’s pacing was good, spending a few chapters with each character before switching.  I appreciated the fact that he didn’t leave a character on a complete and total cliffhanger before switching to the next; sometimes the cliffhangers can be really distracting because I’m not able to enjoy the next section of the book.  He did a good job keeping me interested in everyone.

Overall (I’m halfway through the third book now), these books have been enjoyable.  However, I don’t see them becoming classics for me personally, because they are completely devoid of any humor.  They are serious and intense stories, epic, but not a single smile to leaven the tale.  That’s a deal-breaker for me, because I feel that a sense of humor can help you put life into perspective, and I have trouble relating to characters who never laugh.

Still, they are good stories and definitely worth the read. I’m intrigued to see how everything comes together.  For Eldest, 3/5.

Eragon

by Christopher Paolini

Published: 2002

So I apparently forgot to take a picture of this book before sending it back to the library.  Sorry about that.  But you know what it looks like:  thick, blue, with a dragon on the front?

Somehow, these books have been published for about ten years now, and I’m just now getting around to reading them.  I’m not sure why.  Because of their popularity, I was skeptical of them, but I am about 2/3 through the second book (Eldest) and so far, so good.

Eragon manages to be a plot-setting book while still telling a story.  The first book in a “epic” series can often degrade into mere background and character introduction, but Paolini manages to accomplish that while still allowing a story to move along.  He has created a world that is consistent and characters who are relateable.  As another bonus, he did not end the book on a cliffhanger.  While there were plenty of open-ended story-lines to follow for the rest of the series, the author did a nice job wrapping up the loose ends for that particular book, which I like.  Overall, I felt that the book was very well-paced.

For me, the main drawback was a personal whim–I get so aggravated with books that involve multiple fictional languages, meaning that I constantly have to flip to the glossary at the back of the book.  I understand the dramatic reality it (sort of) portrays (a la Tolkien), but to me, it’s just a distraction.  Every time there is an tense meeting between multiple races, the flow of the conversation is lost by the fact that two or three languages are being spoken.  Paolini doesn’t do it too much, which is almost more annoying…  just the first sentence of everyone’s paragraph is in their native language, then they apparently either revert back to the common language, or Paolini decides to translate the rest for us, I’m not sure which.  Either way, it irritates me.

Still, an overall very enjoyable read, and I am definitely finishing out the series.  4/5.