Series or Stand Alone: The Inhertiance Cycle, book one & two
Synopsis for Eldest: [from alagaesia.com]
Darkness falls…despair abounds…evil reigns…
Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have just saved the rebel state from destruction by the mighty forces of King Galbatorix, cruel ruler of the Empire. Now Eragon must travel to Ellesméra, land of the elves, for further training in the skills of the Dragon Rider: magic and swordsmanship. Soon he is on the journey of a lifetime, his eyes open to awe-inspiring new places and people, his days filled with fresh adventure. But chaos and betrayal plague him at every turn, and nothing is what it seems. Before long, Eragon doesn’t know whom he can trust.
Meanwhile, his cousin Roran must fight a new battle–one that might put Eragon in even graver danger.
Will the king’s dark hand strangle all resistance? Eragon may not escape with even his life. . . .
Review for Eldest:
Phew, I finally finished the second half of this book and can do Part II of this review. I can't tell you all how relieved I was as I got closer to the end. And as I read the very last sentence I was totally upset with myself for not already purchasing a copy of Brisingr. The end really had me wanting more! But that was last night and this is today and I went out and got a copy of the third book. Yay me. But onto my thoughts of Eldest...
Book two picks up directly where the first left off. The battle between the Urgals, the dwarves, and the Varden at Tronjheim has ended. Durza is defeated and Eragon is left with a terrible scar. In the aftermath, the Urgals are somehow able to surprise attack the Varden. Their leader, Ajihad, is killed and the Urgals take Murtagh and the Twins, the Varden's top magic users. After Ajihad's funeral a successor must be chosen to lead the Varden, which is where Ajihad's daughter, Nasuada steps in. Eragon and Saphira swear fealty to her as the new leader of the Varden and befriends a dwarf, Orik, who becomes a very good companion to them both.
Eragon, Saphira, Orik, and Arya set out for Ellesmera, the elf capital, where Eragon will have more training to be a Rider. Upon meeting the elven queen Islanzadi, Eragon learns that Arya is her daughter and is a princess. And if that wasn't a big enough shock, he meets the Mourning Sage who is to be his new teacher. Oromis was the one who helped shield Eragon during his battle with Durza back in Tronjheim. But the shocking part is who was with Oromis when Eragon and Saphira meet him. Oromis flies in on his own golden dragon, Glaedr, and tells Eragon how he escaped from Galbatorix during the Fall of the Riders. Both Eragon and Saphira are absolutely elated that they are not the last Dragon and Rider left. However, Oromis and Glaedr didn't escape Galbatorix without injuries.
While Eragon and Saphira continue their training with their new teachers another story unfolds for Eragon's cousin, Roran. Roran learns of his father's death and blames Eragon for the trouble he has brought the town of Carvahall with his blue stone. He quickly realizes that Galbatorix is after him as well and has sent the Ra'zac to capture him. Roran hides and tries to wait out the Ra'zac but within a short amount of time, Carvahall is under seige and Roran has no choice but to return and help. After many attacks by the Empire's soldiers, and the Ra'zac, the villagers manage to drive the small army away but not before Roran's fiance, Katrina, is taken. And now Roran's dangerous journey begins as he and the villagers travel in hopes of finding safety and Katrina.
There is one more story along with Eragon and Roran's, and that is of Nasuada's. As the new leader of the Varden she immediately starts making decisions and decides to move the Varden to Surda in hopes of combining the rebel forces. She also learns of the fate of the child that was blessed by Eragon and Saphira when they first arrived at Tronjheim. It seems his blessing was wrongly worded and he ended up cursing the child. Elva is a really interesting character because of what has happened to her. She later serves as a type of bodyguard for Nasuada. Since the Varden are now in Surda, war with Galbatorix seems imminent. After Eragon finds that out he has no choice but to cut his training short in Ellesmera. He arrives and finds the Varden along with the Surdan Army poised for battle.
This story is as much Roran's and Nasuada's as it is Eragon's and Saphira's and I think Paolini did a really great job of weaving in and out of each perspective. And the ending really blew me away! While I enjoyed following along Eragon with his continued training as a Rider with the elves, I found Roran's journey to becoming a hero more entertaining. I think the best thing about the two books are the characters. There is such a diversity between their personalities that I find myself trying to imagine what I would do in their positions.
I'm very excited to continue the Ineritance Cycle with book three, Brisingr. And I have learned that book four is in the making and will hopefully complete Eragon's story.