Eldest is the sequel to Eragon and is written by Christopher Paolini. The book is about a sixteen year old boy named Eragon. Eragon finds a dragon egg and becomes a dragon rider when the egg hatches. After that, his uncle is killed by these foul beasts called Ra’zac, so Eragon takes off with an old man named Brom, who turns out to be a former dragon rider, and they search for the Ra’zac. Brom gets killed when they are captured by the Ra’zac. Some good comes of this encounter with the Ra’zac, when another young man named Murtagh saves Eragon and Saphira and proceeds to help them. Later Eragon is captured by Urgals and questioned by a Shade (a person who is being controlled by demons.) Eragon escapes and saves and elf’s life, who was also a captive of the Shade. Then through use of the elf’s memories, Eragon, his dragon, Murtagh and the unconscious elf go to the Varden. The Varden is a group of rebels who resist the Empire. Murtagh reveals that he is the son of a man who betrayed the dragon riders to Galbatorix (the insane king.) They reach the Varden and a little later are enslaved in a battle with Urgals and the Shade. Eragon kills the Shade but gets a permanent injury in his back. Murtagh disappears, with the two most powerful Varden spell casters. Eragon and the elf, Arya, travel to the elves home where Eragon meets a dragon rider called Oromis and Oromis’s dragon Glaedr. The two of them are injured beyond repair and can no longer fight, but they begin to teach and tutor Eragon and Saphira in the ways of the mysterious dragon rider’s magic. Meanwhile Roran, Eragon’s cousin, refuses to be taken by the king’s men, to be used as a weapon against Eragon. Roran takes his whole village and they tramp across the land to try to find refuge in Surda, a country who secretly helps the Varden’s resistance. This book is filled with all sorts of emotions and presents different ideas on religion and uses many clichés. It is a book of adventure and fantasy. Eldest teaches its readers lessons both positive and negative, doesn’t do a good job of brining across the romantic emotions but does do a good job of convincing readers of frustration and pain, and provides little insight on new ideas.
There are topics broached in Eldest that provide some questionable ideas of what is right and what is wrong. Christopher Paolini, seems to use the feeling or want of revenge to drive his characters most of the time. To me this isn’t a good lesson to be teaching because what I would take away from reading parts of this book is that it is ok to act revengeful towards those that hurt you. I disagree with the idea presented there. Yet the Dragon Riders are made out to be these great heroes, and everyone looks up to the hero, but then Saphira, Eragon’s dragon says that he should get revenge on his uncle’s murder because that is his job as a dragon rider. When trying to convince Eragon to pursue the Ra’zac and get revenge, Saphira says,”I thought long and deep the past few days, and I realized what it means to be dragon and Rider:It is our destiny to attempt the impossible, to accomplish great deeds regardless of fear. It is our responsibility to the future,” page 92-92. So in this book, is Christopher Paolini trying to teach us that we should get revenge on those who wrong us? I disagree with the way this was handled. This wasn’t the only time that revenge was brought up either, Roran endangers his whole village because he wants his vengeance for his father’s death. As a member of the village says, “It’s all you fault…they will torch our houses and murder our children because of you,”page 124-125. Roran’s want for vengeance put all these other families at risk. The message that is getting across here, is that it doesn’t matter who gets hurt as long as you get what you want. Again I disagree with this opinion. Another moment in this book, had one of the men of Carvahall slaughtering the soldiers alongside Roran, and both showed a fierce enjoyment to kill and seemed to regard the killing as a sport. “Shall I gut and hamstring you?”page 137. This was a ‘clever’ play on words, as the man who said this is the butcher of Carvahall. However this is just sick. The taunting and joking about death and murder is just so wrong and this is one of many times this type of sick humor is mentioned and I think it’s just wrong. Paolini uses the emotion of anger to be a driving force behind what many characters do. I think he could have used different emotions to invoke action from his characters, especially as anger is a dominant emotion. I feel that although anger is a great emotion to use to drive the characters into action, it is again one of the many negative emotions that is present in his writing of this book. To get Carvahall to travel with him to Surda, Roran tries to instill in them his anger. He does this by reminding them of all the negatives, “He [Galbatorix] seeks to poison all of Algaesia, to suffocate us with his cloak of misery,” page 250. However at the same time I understand why Paolini uses all of these negative emotions. For this is the story. The story is about people getting murdered and brutality and slavery and torture. It is about hurt, revenge, hate, anger, demons, pain, and suffering. The story wouldn’t come to life without these emotions. For, although I think it very wrong that the Dragon Riders, the heroes, are portrayed as getting revenge on those who do wrong, the want for revenge was a driving force behind all that Eragon did. Also under the circumstances, there wouldn’t have been another better emotion. The feeling of hate and anger and revenge that Eragon had, was felt by the reader and probably no other emotion would have had the same effect. Roran’s endangering the village had to happen because Paolini had to stay true to the character of Roran. Roran wouldn’t just run away in the face of danger. He would stand and fight and try to hold his ground. Roran’s determination is seen when he is faced with the daunting task of raising a home and barn from scratch, “Considering the situation, it seemed to Roran that the only option available to him was to rebuild his farm, even if he had to raise the house and barn himself,” page 31. His determination carries on to all tasks in front of him. Never is he wanting to give up and he has a pride that he doesn’t want ruined. As for the sick humor, it had to be in there. For again it was sticking with the character of Sloan, who was the butcher. He is a cruel character that we aren’t really supposed to like. Roran also might’ve been with him, but both Roran and Eragon, who are characters that we are supposed to like and look up to, don’t really approve of murder. Roran in fact feels sick at the thought that he killed, “He could still feel the visceral shock of muscle and bone giving…crunching…pulping under his hammer. His bile rose and he had to struggle not to be sick in full view of the village,” page 127. In the first book called Eragon, Eragon shows strong distaste for Murtagh killing a slaver. I dislike the overuse of negative emotions, yet I also understand the importance of their use to bring out the emotions in the book.
When reading fiction books, especially fantasy books, it is important for the author to really bring in the reader and make them feel the emotions of the characters and feel apart of the book, however sometimes in the book Eldest when trying to bring in the audience, parts end up sounding cheesy. In any of the romantic scenes or when describing the love of two characters, Paolini’s attempt comes across as uncomfortable and too formal. When Eragon is with Arya he says, “How tall the trees, how bright the stars… and how beautiful you are,” page 473. Firstly Eragon doesn’t strike me as the formal poetic type. Until now Eragon is portrayed as being anything but an artist. He is not portrayed as being able to be sweet or cute with words, but now all of a sudden he is being all sweet and poetic. To me Eragon is a bit harsh, a farmer, and all tough and rough traveller. So where did the sudden sweet, poetic, and cute words come from. I also am not a fan of the overly sweet and cute speeches like this. It all sounds very formal and too good. I prefer a less formal and more awkward approach. Although this is very awkward. I think that is because these words don’t seem to fit Eragon and they don’t go with the harshness of the story. Although I don’t find Paolini particularly good at writing about romance, I do like much of the other emotions that he really made me feel and become apart of. Roran’s anger and slow turn to madness definitely convinced me. There was something very effective about Roran’s continuous chant in his mind of, “Katrina,” page 251. I also felt very apart of what Eragon was feeling and going through when describing to Saphira how pain was should actually be called the obliterator. To me Eragon’s description of pain was very effective, “The obliterator. Because when you’re in pain, nothing else can exist. Not thought. Not emotion. Only the drive to escape the pain. When it’s strong enough, the Obliterator strips us of everything that makes us who we are, until we’re reduced to creatures less than animals, creatures with a single desire and goal: escape,” page 400-401. In Eragon’s small speech this was an effective way of making me feel his pain and troubles that he was going through. There was also a point in Eldest that really brought across the relationship and companionship between Oromis and Eragon. It is after Eragon has had another bout of mind numbing pain, then Oromis reminds him who he is and all he has to fight for. Oromis says, “Don’t abandon hope…never that…we are the Riders. We stand between the light and the dark, and keep the balance between the two…Now rise, Shadeslayer, and prove you can conquer the instincts of your flesh!” Page 401. The companionship between the two that particularly came from Oromis was really touching and I thought that this emotion was brought across really well with the few words exchanged. Paolini isn’t very good at romantic scenes or portraying true love, but he is good at describing pain, anger, companionship, hate, and revenge.
Sometimes, to really stir things up and make a successful book, you’ve got to delve deep into topics and explore new ideas. When reading books it is always fun to see an author come up with a new idea. Something crazy, that comes completely from his/her imagination. Or, it is fun to see them suggest, in their writing, a new thought or revelation about Earth and humanity. I didn’t see this happen with Paolini’s writing. He didn’t explore new thoughts, he didn’t really have any new ideas. All of the thoughts have been explored before. To start with, dragons. Dragons are a common theme in books and in movies. In ‘The Hobbit’ there was the use of a dragon. Harry Potter also used a dragon in the Goblet of Fire, when Harry had to fight the dragon to get past the first task. It isn’t even a new idea to have dragons portrayed as friendly either, as the movie How To Train Your Dragon showed. So, the idea of dragons as the good or the bad guy aren’t new at all. A rivalry between elves and dwarves isn’t a new idea. Although it was quite funny when Orik (a dwarf) came to the sparring field and says that he won’t spar because , “I already got in a bit o’ax work with an elf who took a rather fiendish delight in cracking me over the head”page 531. It was definitely seen in Lord of the Rings. As was the relationship between dwarves and mountains and jewels, and elves and forests and nature and fair folk. If anything, the Ra’zac in Eldest, sound a lot like the Black Riders of Lord of the Rings. They are described in Eldest as, “To the east, a shadow detached itself from the horizon…The black creature opened its beak and uttered a long, piercing shriek…” page 416. It is also described as, “And hunched in their midst were two twisted black forms,”page 41. They both have these creepy, flying, evil animals that they fly on. They are both hooded creatures that don’t show their faces. They are both stronger in the dark than the sunlight. Neither race like water, and both shy away from the water. Just by looking at you, they both can immobilize you with fear, and their cries are almost lethal. The Urgals in Eldest are more like goblins or Orks than anything else. The idea of a nobody, poor kid becoming an all important character with all this power and strength and admirers is also very common. A romance between two characters that was never meant to be, or never could work out, is used frequently. The most obvious example being Romeo and Juliet. For in Eldest, Eragon is in love with Arya. Everything points to that not working out. Arya is almost a hundred years older than Eragon. She is also an elf, and their positions in society don’t allow them to be together. Although, a mix of all these cool ideas is really fun and makes for a great fantasy novel, there is a lack of his own imagination coming out. Paolini has shallowly began to explore the question, Does God exist? He has brought it up a couple of times during the course of the book. Eragon, himself, doesn’t seem to really believe in anything, although there has been a few times that he has expressed curiosity at the subject. Mostly Paolini has brought up the idea of their being more than one god. That is what the basis of the dwarves religion is. The elves don’t really believe in gods at all. They just believe in having a strong connection with nature. There has definitely been hints that Paolini will discuss more about the subject of religion later in the book. I don’t see much creativity from Paolini, however he does try to go deep into some subjects such as religion.
Good books should teach us good lessons, they should bring us into the world of fantasy and get us experiencing the characters experiences along with them, the author should also try to come up with new ideas and examin new topics that haven’t been discussed before. Paolini taught both good and bad lessons. Some were very unethical and other were good lessons that reminded us of the values of bravery and courage. Although Paolini was able to convey the more negative emotions to his audience quite well, he lacked the ability to stay true to his characters and still have a romantic scene or two. Paolini also stole some ideas from other books, such as when he made the different races of creatures in his book. He does go into and explore some of the bigger questions, like, Does God exist. I do enjoy the book, and I feel that mostly it was well written, however Paolini lacked creativity and being able to convey romantic emotions to his audience.