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Eldest (Inheritance, Book 2) [Hardcover]

Christopher Paolini
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (1,844 customer reviews)

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Editorial Reviews

Amazon.com Review

Surpassing its popular prequel Eragon, this second volume in the Inheritance trilogy shows growing maturity and skill on the part of its very young author, who was only seventeen when the first volume was published in 2003. The story is solidly in the tradition (some might say derivative) of the classic heroic quest fantasy, with the predictable cast of dwarves, elves, and dragons--but also including some imaginatively creepy creatures of evil.

The land of Alagaesia is suffering under the Empire of the wicked Galbatorix, and Eragon and his dragon Saphira, last of the Riders, are the only hope. But Eragon is young and has much to learn, and so he is sent off to the elven forest city of Ellesmera, where he and Saphira are tutored in magic, battle skills, and the ancient language by the wise former Rider Oromis and his elderly dragon Glaedr. Meanwhile, back at Carvahall, Eragon's home, his cousin Roran is the target of a siege by the hideous Ra'zac, and he must lead the villagers on a desperate escape over the mountains. The two narratives move toward a massive battle with the forces of Galbatorix, where Eragon learns a shocking secret about his parentage and commits himself to saving his people.

The sheer size of the novel, as well as its many characters, places with difficult names, and its use of imaginary languages make this a challenging read, even for experienced fantasy readers. It is essential to have the plot threads of the first volume well in mind before beginning--the publisher has provided not only a map, but a helpful synopsis of the first book and a much-needed Language Guide. But no obstacles will deter the many fans of Eragon from diving headfirst into this highly-awaited fantasy. (Ages 12 and up) --Patty Campbell


Meet Author Christopher Paolini
Christopher Paolini’s abiding love of fantasy and science fiction inspired him to begin writing his debut novel, Eragon, when he graduated from high school at age 15.

"Writing is the heart and soul of my being. It is the means through which I bring my stories to life. There is nothing like putting words on a page and knowing that they will summon certain emotions and reactions from the reader. In my writing, I strive for a lyrical beauty somewhere between Tolkien at his best and Seamus Heaney’s translation of Beowulf." --Christopher Paolini





The Eragon/Eldest Boxed Set


Want to learn more about the series? Check out our review of Eragon: Here's a great big fantasy that you can pull over your head like a comfy old sweater and disappear into for a whole weekend. Christopher Paolini began Eragon when he was just 15, and the book shows the influence of Tolkien, of course, but also Terry Brooks, Anne McCaffrey, and perhaps even Wagner in its traditional quest structure and the generally agreed-upon nature of dwarves, elves, dragons, and heroic warfare with magic swords. Read more

Order your copy of the boxed set today





Learn the Lingo
Our quickie pronunciation guide will help you get to know some of the names and places in the Inheritance series.

AjihadAH-zhi-hod The Leader of the Varden

ArgetlamARE-jet-lahm Elven word to describe Dragon Riders meaning "silver hand"
AryaAR-ee-uh A powerful elf who is both beautiful and a master swordswoman
EragonEHR-uh-gahn A Dragon Rider from Carvahall
Ra-zacRAA-zack Evil creatures
Saphirasuh-FEAR-uh Eragon’s dragon
*Art copyright © 2004 John Jude Palencar



From School Library Journal

Grade 5 Up–Eragon and his dragon, Saphira, have survived the battle at Tronjheim, but their challenges are not over. Galbatorix, the corrupt emperor, still rules Alagaesia and is looking for them. The magically bonded pair must help the rebellious Varden regroup after their leader is slain. Eragon helps deal with the resulting diplomatic complexities and then leaves for Du Weldenvarden, the home of the Elves, in order to finish his training as a Dragon Rider. Meanwhile, his cousin Roran must unite the small town of Carvahall as it is battered by Galbatorix's forces, including the nasty Ra'zac. The story alternates between Eragon and Saphira and their political maneuvering and Roran and his more traditional adventure over land and sea. Paolini provides a worthy companion to Eragon (Knopf, 2003), though it does not stand alone (a summary of the first book will be included in the final edition). The plot–indeed, most of the fantasy conventions–is heavily inspired by Tolkien, McCaffrey, and especially George Lucas. The momentum of the narrative is steady and consistent: a problem presents itself and is neatly (and conveniently) solved before the next one arises, making it appealing to some adventure-quest fantasy fans and runescape.com players. Eragon's journey to maturity is well handled. He wrestles earnestly with definitions for good and evil, and he thoughtfully examines the question of good at what price.While there's nothing particularly original here, the book will find its fan-base.–Sarah Couri, New York Public Library
Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.

From Bookmarks Magazine

Paolini started his trilogy when he was 15. Now, at the ripe old age of 21, the home-schooled author exhibits literary maturity in the second volume of his heroic-quest fantasy. He still borrows from J. R. R. Tolkien’s Lord of the Rings and Anne McCaffrey’s The Dragonriders of Pern. But here, Eragon matures with his author and exhibits more emotional depth. If the pace is inconsistent or the themes formulaic, Paolini has nonetheless created a unified, vivid fantasy world that propelled most reviewers forward. (Don’t even touch it if you don’t like dragons.) Only Entertainment Weekly weighed in with hefty complaints about the novel’s glacial pace and silly plot. Maybe that critic will like the 2006 movie, starring John Malkovich and Jeremy Irons, better.

Copyright © 2004 Phillips & Nelson Media, Inc.

From Booklist

Gr. 8-11. The second book in the Inheritance Trilogy, following Eragon(2003), takes up the epic story just three days after the end of the bloody battle in which Eragon slew the Shade Durza, and the Varden and dwarves defeated the forces of the evil ruler of the Empire. Although Eragon has proved himself in battle as a Dragon Rider, he has much to learn, so he travels to the land of the elves to complete his rigorous training. Meanwhile, his cousin Roran finds himself the target of Empire forces, which threaten to obliterate his village if Roran is not turned over to them. Alternating narratives follow the exploits of Eragon and of Roran as each plays his role in the inevitable advance toward the final battle. Once again, the expected fantasy elements are well in place, and the characters and their relationships continue to develop nicely. The ending promises an even more cataclysmic battle ahead. Sally Estes
Copyright © American Library Association. All rights reserved

Review

"A compelling and action-filled adventure ... A galloping good example of its genre" Daily Telegraph "This book is an achievement. Readers will be transported" The Sunday Times "A portrayal of true affection between boy and dragon ... Paolini writes like someone gripped by his own story" Guardian "A stirring fantasy of epic proportions" The Bookseller "Bound for the bestsellers" Publishing News --This text refers to the Paperback edition.

About the Author

Christopher Paolini’s abiding love of fantasy and science fiction inspired him to begin writing his debut novel, Eragon, when he graduated from high school at fifteen after being homeschooled all his life. Both Eragon and Eldest, the second book in the Inheritance cycle, became instant New York Times bestsellers. Christopher is currently at work on Brisingr, the third volume in the cycle. He lives in Montana, where the dramatic landscape feeds his visions of Alagaësia.

You can find out more about Christopher and Inheritance at www.alagaesia.com.

Excerpt. © Reprinted by permission. All rights reserved.

The Council of Elders
Saphira's breathing quickened, and she opened her eyes, yawning expansively. Good morning, little one.
Is it? He looked down and leaned on his hands, compressing the mattress. It's terrible . . . Murtagh and Ajihad . . . Why didn't sentries in the tunnels warn us of the Urgals? They shouldn't have been able to trail Ajihad's group without being noticed. . . . Arya was right, it doesn't make sense.
We may never know the truth, said Saphira gently. She stood, wings brushing the ceiling. You need to eat, then we must discover what the Varden are planning. We can't waste time; a new leader could be chosen within hours.
Eragon agreed, thinking of how they had left everyone yesterday: Orik rushing off to give King Hrothgar the tidings, Jörmundur taking Ajihad's body to a place where it would rest until the funeral, and Arya, who stood alone and watched the goings-on.
Eragon rose and strapped on Zar'roc and his bow, then bent and lifted Snowfire's saddle. A line of pain sheared through his torso, driving him to the floor, where he writhed, scrabbling at his back. It felt like he was being sawed in half. Saphira growled as the ripping sensation reached her. She tried to soothe him with her own mind but was unable to alleviate his suffering. Her tail instinctually lifted, as if to fight.
It took minutes before the fit subsided and the last throb faded away, leaving Eragon gasping. Sweat drenched his face, making his hair stick and his eyes sting. He reached back and gingerly fingered the top of his scar. It was hot and inflamed and sensitive to touch. Saphira lowered her nose and touched him on the arm. Oh, little one. . . .
It was worse this time, he said, staggering upright. She let him lean against her as he wiped away the sweat with a rag, then he tentatively stepped for the door.
Are you strong enough to go?
We have to. We're obliged as dragon and Rider to make a public choice regarding the next head of the Varden, and perhaps even influence the selection. I won't ignore the strength of our position; we now wield great authority written the Varden. At least the Twins aren't here to grab the position for themselves. That's the only good in the situation.
Very well, but Durza should suffer a thousand years of torture for what he did to you.
He grunted. Just stay close to me.
Together they made their way through Tronjheim, toward the nearest kitchen. In the corridors and hallways, people stopped and bowed to them, murmuring, "Argetlam," or "Shadeslayer." Even dwarves made the motions, though not as often. Eragon was struck by the somber, haunted expressions of the humans and the dark clothing they wore to display their sadness. Many women dressed entirely in black, lace veils covering their faces.
In the kitchen, Eragon brought a stone platter of food to a low table. Saphira watched him carefully in case he should have another attack. Several people tried to approach him, but she lifted a lip and growled sending them scurrying away. Eragon pretended to ignore the disturbances and picked at the food. Finally, trying to divert his thoughts from Murtagh, he asked, Who do you think has the means to take control of the Varden, now that Ajihad and the Twins are gone?
She hesitated. It's possible you could, if Ajihad's last words were interpreted as a blessing to secure the leadership. Almost no one would oppose you. However, that does not seem a wise path to take. I see only trouble in that direction.
I agree. Besides, Arya wouldn't approve, and she could be a dangerous enemy. Elves can't lie in the ancient language, but they have no such inhibition in ours-she could deny that Ajihad ever uttered those words if it served her purposes. No, I don't want the position. . . . What about Jörmundur?
Ajihad called him his right-hand man. Unfortunately, we know little about him or the Varden's other leaders. Such a short time has passed since we came here. We will have to make our judgment on our feelings and impressions, without the benefit of history.
Eragon pushed his fish around a lump of mashed tubers. Don't forget Hrothgar and the dwarf clans; they won't be quiet in this. Except for Arya, the elves have no say in the succession-a decision will be made before word of this even reaches them. But the dwarves can't be-won't be-ignored. Hrothgar favors the Varden, but if enough clans oppose him, he might be maneuvered into backing someone unsuited for the command.
And who might that be?
A person easily manipulated. He closed his eyes and leaned back. It could be anyone in Farthen Dûr, anyone at all.

From AudioFile

Young fans of weighty fantasy novels are delighted that this second volume in Paolini's Inheritance trilogy has arrived. The prodigy writer delivers another satisfying Tolkienesque tale as his first book, ERAGON, begins movie production. Narrator Gerard Doyle magnificently delivers the rich characters, especially the humble but gifted young Eragon. The dragon rider travels to Ellesmera, the elves' forest city, to be tutored in fighting techniques and magic skills, and then must reclaim homeland Alagaesia from the wicked ruler, Galbatorix. Through Doyle's voice, Eragon's splendid dragon, Saphira, flaunts femininity behind her fierce countenance. Doyle presents distinctive elves, dwarves, and frightening bug/human enemies amid a backdrop of complex languages and lands. N.M.C. Winner of AudioFile Earphones Award © AudioFile 2005, Portland, Maine-- Copyright © AudioFile, Portland, Maine --This text refers to the Audio CD edition.