It’s been a while since I read Eragon, but I remember enjoying it quite a bit, so I was really looking forward to Eldest. And I think I would have enjoyed it if it’d been 400 pages instead of 650 or so. But as it stands, there’s just not enough plot to carry the length of this book.
It felt a *whole* lot like Paolini opened a word blender and dumped in equal amounts of LOTRO and Star Wars and added a pinch of Pern and hit the BLEND button. And that still would have been OK except he got a huge clump of Degoba in the Star Wars material. Hmm, perhaps I should stop torturing this metaphor. Put another way, imagine if two-thirds of the original Star Wars was Skywalker being trained by Yoda; watching someone going to class everyday gets boring fast.
Riders = Jedi, the bond between Eragon and Saphira comes from Pern, the language, races and tone come from LOTRO. Although the tone comes and goes…Paolini’s characters drift between fairly modern dialog and “come hither” and “I know not why” and other ‘pseudo-medieval’ phrasing. He even manages to riff on “Treasure of the Sierra Madre’s” ‘we don’t need no stinking badges’ quote, swapping in “barges” for “badges.” *sigh*
Anyway, intertwined with Eragon’s story (which can be summed up as “Eragon goes to train with the elves for 300 pages, then heads to a battle) this time out is Roran’s. Roran is the cousin Eragon left behind in Carvahall, and *he* has quite an interesting and fun plot in Eldest, which is what saved the book from being just plain bad. I would’ve been happier if most of the book was about Roran, with Eragon’s training being a minor subplot.
As this volume of Inheritance closes, Paolini redeems himself somewhat, as Eragon *finally* stops training and starts doing, and we get some good action and strong plot developments in the closing chapters of the book.
This isn’t a bad book; it’s just much longer than it needed to be. I’ve heard Book 3 of Inheritance is even worse in that respect, and I’m not sure I’m willing to stay on this ride any longer.
EDIT: Here’s another look at Eldest that brings up some interesting observations about the message Paolini is sending to his young readers (Eldest is technically YA). Eldest review at PixiePalace