I discovered Christopher Paolini at the end of last year when I picked up the Audiobook of Eragon. Eldest is the second book in the Inheritance Trilogy and it picks up just a few hours after the battle at the end of Eragon. These books are not independent of each other. They are not like romance novels, where a trilogy indicates that there are three separate characters and each book will cover the story of a separate couple. No, this trilogy is more of the Saga type of books, where you need to read the first book to know what is happening in the next. The Inheritance trilogy reminds me very much of The Lord of the Rings trilogy.
When we last left Eragon he had just slain the Shade, Durza, in the battle of Farthen Dur, where the urgals had attacked the Varden. The success of the battle was the beginning of the war against Galbatorix's Empire. The wound that Durza, the Shade, gave Eragon leaves him crippled, in a sense. He now has a scar on his back, like Murtagh, that pains him into oblivion. Ajihad has been slain in the battle and the Varden need a new leader. The elders on the council decide to ask Nasuada to replace her father and be a puppethead, but she has other plans and after accepting the confirmation she surprises them all by proving to be an independent leader and worthy of the title. After Nasuada takes command and decides to move the Varden out of Farthen Dur to Gil'ead, Arya, the elf, takes Eragon to Ellesmera for his training as a Rider.
In this installment we also follow Roran, Eragon's cousin as the Ra-zac attack Carvahall in search of him. They want to use him to get to Eragon. The villagers abandon Carvahall through the Spine to get to the Varden, in hopes that they can join the fight against the Empire and protect themselves from Galbatorix. I enjoyed Roran's storyline more than Eragon's even though Eragon goes through many transformations (he becomes more elf-like and takes on apprenticeship from Oramis, a hidden Rider) there is no real action until the very end. Roran's story is stronger because we see him encounter many obstacles in his trail to the Varden. During the last battle a twist is revealed that leaves the reader stunned, not just by the revelation into the prophesy Angela had made to Eragon in the first book but also by revealing who the prophesy was referring to. Angela had told Eragon that he would be betrayed but someone of his blood and when Eragon's paternity is revealed we discover exactly who betrays him.
Excellent Saga! If you are into Fantasy, this is the book you cannot miss. In the same line as the Harry Potter series, this book is not just for the young. The story and characters come alive with the fight between good and evil. The characters are multifaceted, where they are flawed and human-like. A code of honor keeps the good true and all creatures have a separate code.
If you want more information about the book you can visit http://www.dragonriders.co.uk/, which has tons of info. The first book, Eragon, has already been picked up by Fox to make as a movie. The next installment, tentatively titled Empire, will be published in 2007. Can't wait!!