The next book in the Inheritance cycle is Eldest. If you read my review of Eragon, you will see that I really enjoyed the book. I am mostly able to say the same for Eldest, with a loss of about 1/3 after reading it (and many critics trashed the book as well), but I’m a loyal reader and plan to finish the entire set (the fourth book has yet to be written as of this date) before I make a final conclusion.
With the death of Ajihad, the leader of the Varden, a new leader is chosen. Nasuada, Ajihad’s daughter, ends up with the honor (or burden). Eragon swears fealty to her in order to satisfy the Varden’s Council of Elders.
Roran, Eragon’s cousin, is left to fend off an army of Galbatorix against Carvahall (their home town). He earns the name, Stronghammer, after his favorite choice of weapons. His fiancée is captured and the remainder of the town decides to travel to Surda, with Roran at the head.
Meanwhile, Eragon goes to Du Weldenvarden to be trained by the Elves, and he learns that he may not be as alone as he first had thought. Both him and Saphira grow stronger, including a transformation that Eragon undergoes at a Blood-Oath Celebration. Once he learns that the Varden are in need of help, Eragon joins the battle only to end up facing a more experienced Dragon Rider.
Even with the disappointments I had, I enjoyed the story. It was a bit slow in places, but I didn’t really lose my concentration. Like Eragon, this one is not entirely unique, but I felt closer to the characters and cared more about what happened to them. I also really liked the character of Elva, who is a product of an unintentionally bad blessing from Eragon and Saphira.
Things to consider:
I rate this the same as Eragon, for pre-teens +. My biggest disappointment with this story is that not only did Paolini decided to make the Elves vegetarians (who wear leather?), he made them staunch atheists (which is anti-traditional Elf lore). I’m not totally convinced that the series will end with atheism being Eragon’s belief system (who, at this point, doesn’t really know what he believes). I think Paolini might be trying to show how each culture follows a different ideology and then leave it up to Eragon to chose what he feels is right in the end (this is just my guess though).
Opportunities for discussion:
Talk about different cultures and what they believe. Tell your children why you believe what you do, and share with them the truths of Christianity. Don’t let them go off to college thinking there’s only one view of God and life, just to have them get confused and end up losing their faith (which is statistically at 80%). Also, share with them why some people chose not to eat meat, and why you agree or disagree with this. Use Bible verses to support your case. Be sure you read this story too, don’t just leave it up to your kids, there are other good moral lessons in here as well.