Cover flap summary
Darkness falls… Despair abounds… Evil Reigns— Eldest
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 magic and swordsmanship, vital skills for a Dragon Rider. It is the journey of a lifetime, filled with awe-inspiring new places and people, each day a fresh adventure. But chaos and betrayal plague him at every turn, and Eragon doesn’t know whom he can trust.
Will the king's dark hand strangle all resistance? Eragon may not escape with even his life...
A Twin Disaster
Eldest begins with Urgals attacking the Varden. This leads to the death of Ajihad, and the disappearance of Murtagh and the Twins. Subsequently, Eragon Shadeslayer, who witnessed Ajihad's death, is summoned to the Council of Elders to help them choose a new leader. They want to choose Nasuada, and use her as a puppet for their wishes. Eragon accepts their choice and agrees to pledge his fealty. However, Eragon stuns the Council by pledging his fealty to Nasuada, not them, and Nasuada is not as easy to control as the Council thought previously.
The Battle for Carvahall Begins
Meanwhile, Roran has returned to Carvahall and come to the conclusion that Garrow died because of Eragon bringing home the blue stone. He is also trying to tell Sloan that he wants to marry Katrina. They are disrupted, however, when Roran and Baldor, one of Horst's sons, spot the Ra'zac and thirty Imperial soldiers camped nearby. Roran hides in the spine.
Departure for Ellesméra
Saphira promises Hrothgar to repair the Star Sapphire, Isidar Mithrim. Ajihad's funeral is held, and Nasuada officially becomes the leader of the Varden. Eragon, in deference to Ajihad's last wishes, swears fealty to her. Eragon meets Trianna, a sorceress, she invites Eragon to lead the Du Vrangr Gata, a group of magic users who serve the Varden. Before Eragon can respond, Saphira scares the woman off. A few days later, Eragon prepares for his departure for Ellesméra. It turns out, that Orik and Arya will accompany him. Nasuada's first action as the leader of the Varden is to move the Varden to Surda, a small, neutral country south of the Empire. Eragon and Saphira say goodbye to Angela and Solembum, who will be accompanying the Varden. The next day, as they are about to leave, Orik announces that Eragon is invited into Dûrgrimst Ingeitum, the clan that Orik and Hrothgar belong to. Eragon accepts, and they leave.
The Ra'zac's Threat
Roran hears from one of Horst's sons, Albriech, that the brewer, Quimby, is dead and that he was eaten by the Ra'zac. Roran and several other men, including Quimby's thirteen-year-old son, Nolfavrell, decide to fight back. They kill some soldiers, but some of their own are killed. They build a wall against the Ra'zac, and there is another battle. More villagers die, including ten-year-old Elmund. Quimby's widow, Birgit, has a vendetta against Roran for being related to Eragon and she feels Roran is the cause of Quimby's death. Roran and Katrina are finally engaged. The Ra'zac say that they will enslave the villagers if they give up Roran, and if they don't give Roran up, the villagers will all be killed.
The Journey of a Lifetime
Eragon, Saphira, Arya, and Orik stop at a dwarf city called Tarnag. Not all the dwarves there are happy about Eragon being part of a clan, particularly one clan, Dûrgrimst Az Sweldn rak Anhûin, which hates all Dragon Riders. Eragon visits a dwarf temple, Celbedeil, where he learns about their religion and six deities. They all decide to leave when the city becomes increasingly unstable. The rest of the journey is fairly uneventful. They encounter a fanghur in the Beor Mountains. Arya teaches Eragon how to politely greet among elves. They travel by raft and donkey until the company of eleven reaches Ceris, an elven outpost. Two elves, Lifaen and Narí, accompany Eragon, Saphira, Arya, and Orik to Ellesméra. They tell Eragon of King Palancar, who lived in Carvahall and led the humans long ago. As they near an elven city, Eragon and Orik are overcome by elvish singing, driving them into a rage when they are held back by their elven guards.
The Carvahall villagers are fighting over what to do. Roran convinces them to escort the women and children into the Spine. He privately asks Katrina to go, despite the fact that she is an adult and Sloan hates the Spine. As they prepare to leave, Sloan discovers everything and is forced to accept that Roran and Katrina are engaged. Sloan betrays everybody by murdering Byrd, the watchman, allowing the Ra'zac to kidnap Katrina and wound Roran in the process. Nevertheless, Roran decides to leave Carvahall and lead the villagers on an exodus to Surda, a small, independent nation south of the Empire. He does not convince all the villagers, however. A few do not go.
A Long-lost Secret
In Ellesméra, Eragon and his friends meet Queen Islanzadí of the elves. It turns out that Arya, who is a hundred years old, is her daughter. He also meets Maud, who is another werecat, and Blagden, a bird who can talk and sense the future. Eragon is also introduced to another Dragon Rider, Oromis, the "Togira Ikonoka" who shielded Eragon during the battle under Farthen Dûr, and his three-legged golden dragon, Glaedr. It was they who taught Brom, Morzan, and their dragons. Oromis is weak, and therefore cannot take part in the war against Galbatorix, but has woven countless spells around himself to ensure that he will survive long enough to train the next Rider.
The Training Begins
Eragon and Saphira begin their training with Oromis and Glaedr. Eragon finds out that he actually cursed the baby in Farthen Dûr. Arya introduces him to a smith named Rhunön who made all the Riders' swords, including Zar'roc. She has sworn an oath that she will never make another weapon. Arya shows Eragon a tree called the Menoa Tree which was once an elven woman. Eragon recalls that Solembum mentioned it in a prophecy of sorts, telling Eragon if he needs a weapon to "look under the Menoa Tree".
Lace and Chemistry
At this point, Nasuada and the Varden are in Aberon, Surda's capital. The Surdan king, Orrin, who is relatively young for a monarch, is a chemist. He is worried that Nasuada is taking over his country. Nasuada tells Trianna to magically create lace to raise money for the Varden, which Orrin objects to. Nasuada meets Elva, the cursed baby, who appears to be about four years old. Instead of being shielded from misfortune, she shields others from misfortune.
Lessons in the Forest
Back in Ellesméra, Eragon has lessons on debating and logic, history and geography, and magic and sword fighting. He becomes fluent in the Ancient Language. Every day he spars with an elf named Vanir. He learns that Orik is engaged to Hvedra, another dwarf. Eragon learns that the Ra'zac ride on their parents, the Lethrblaka. He realizes that not all Urgals are evil. Saphira also has lessons from Glaedr. Eragon begins to experience strong feelings for Arya, but faces the realization that he cannot join her because of the age gap between them. At the same time, he suffers repeated painful attacks from the scar on his back.
A Lucky Escape
Roran and the villagers arrive at the port city of Narda. They find three barges and convince the captain, Clovis, to take them to Teirm. In Teirm, Roran, Gertrude, Birgit, Nolfavrell, Byrd's son Mandel, and Loring, an elder, enter the city in disguise. Gertrude and Mandel go off in search of Angela, and the others visit Jeod in search of a ship. When Nolfavrell is about to reveal something, Roran interrupts by asking about Angela's shop. Jeod answers, and Nolfavrell asks if that was who Gertrude was looking for. Jeod recognizes Gertrude's name from what Brom said, and tells Roran what happened to Eragon and Brom. They pirate a ship to Surda. When they are pursued by the Empire, they bravely lead their enemies across a whirlpool called the Boar's Eye.
Glaedr teaches Eragon and Saphira about dragons. Then there is a celebration called the Blood-Oath Celebration to honor the first Riders. The last art piece that Eragon saw was of Iduna and Neya with a dragon tattoo. The dragon danced around their bodies, and in a voice of fire, spoke to Eragon: "Our gift to you." The dragons (the tattoo, Glaedr, and Saphira) had given Eragon a gift; they make him into an elf-human hybrid, removing all of his scars. Orik, Arya, and even Vanir are impressed. After the blood-oath, Eragon learns that the elves have no religion.
Threat to the Varden
One of the Varden's spies in Uru'baen spots a large army heading south to Surda, and finds that they have been tricked to think that the army was still in Gil'ead, concluding that Galbatorix is with the army, and the Varden quickly discuss strategy, in which Orrin brings up the matter of a complaint from the weavers' guild saying that the textile market had been flooded with extremely cheap lace, and rightfully blames the Varden.
In Ellesmera, Eragon scries the Varden with magic, and the threat of war with Galbatorix seems imminent. Upon hearing of this, Eragon, Saphira, and Orik immediately leave to go to their aid. They stop at Aberon to find out that the battle will be on the Burning Plains.
The Battle of the Burning Plains
Eragon arrives to find the situation poised on the edge of war. The armies of the Varden, mixed with the army of Surda, camp on a plain opposite the vast armies of Galbatorix. Some Urgals, led by Nar Garzhvog, who have been freed from Durza's spell, ask to join the Varden. At first Eragon hates the idea, but Nasuada and Saphira convince him otherwise. The battle begins, and Eragon is able to repel the opposing armies for some time using his new-found powers. The tide of the battle shifts back and forth between both sides. With the appearance of the dwarves, the situation changes to favor the Varden. Roran comes with Jeod and the villagers. The appearance of an unknown Dragon Rider who kills Hrothgar with magic turns the tables once again.
A Startling Revelation
Eragon faces off with the strange Rider, and ultimately unmasks him to reveal Murtagh, who had not been killed, but had been taken by the Twins to Galbatorix, and forced to swear allegiance to the king Galbatorix in the Ancient Language. He and his dragon, Thorn, prove to be more powerful than the weakened Eragon, while Murtagh displays an exemplary skill in magic, using spells that would have killed a normal human. Murtagh decides to have mercy on Eragon and Saphira, however, by twisting a way out of his oaths he took in the Ancient Language. Before he leaves, he claims Zar'roc as his own and uncovers a terrible truth: Eragon was the youngest son of Morzan, and is therefore Murtagh's brother. Murtagh also reveals that Galbatorix is working to save the dragon race and reestablish the Riders; but in order to do this, he must capture Saphira, who is the last female dragon in existence. In the end, Galbatorix's army is routed, thanks to the timely appearance of the villagers of Carvahall. Eragon is reunited with Roran, and they agree to work together to rescue Katrina.
Publishers in other countries
- Australia: Alfred A. Knopf
- Bulgaria: Hermes Books
- Brazil: Editora Rocco
- Canada: Alfred A. Knopf
- Croatia: Kapitol
- Czech Republic: Fragment Publishing House
- Denmark: Sesam
- Finland: Tammi
- France: Bayard Jeunesse
- Germany: Random House/Blanvalet (Bertelsmann)
- The Netherlands: Publisher M
- Indonesia: Gramedia Pustaka Utama
- Italy: Fabbri Editors & Mondolibri
- Japan: Random House Japan
- Korea: ???
- Latin America: Roca Editorial
- New Zealand: Corgi/Random House
- Poland: Mag Publishing House
- Portugal: Gailivro
- Romania: Rao International Publishing Company
- Slovakia: Fragment
- Spain: Roca Editorial
- Sweden: Bonnier Carlsen
- Taiwan and Hong Kong: Linking Publishing
- Thailand: Amarin
- United Kingdom: Doubleday
- United States: Alfred A. Knopf
- Serbia: Čarobna knjiga
*Indicates new character
List of chapters
- A list of chapters with their respective point of view.
Inside the book
As always, this book is for family. And also to my incredible fans. You made this adventure possible. Sé onr sverdar sitja hvass!— Eldest dedication
Eldest contains a concise summary of Eragon, the previous book in the cycle. It also includes a pronunciation guide to the names and phrases used in the book, as well as a note upon the origins of the names.
Excerpt from the publisher
This is a copy of the excerpt. Click [show] to read its contents. The original excerpt may be found here.
|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.
Eldest received generally negative reviews, and it was met with criticism similar to Eragon for its derivative nature. School Library Journal noted that Eldest lacked originality, but would still find reception among fans. It also acknowledged that themes of Eldest are based generally on the works of other writers. BookBrowse also criticized Eldest, but said, as School Library Journal noted, that nothing the reviewers can say will stop some children from reading the book. Entertainment Weekly rated Eldest as one of the worst five books of 2005, calling it a "700-page drag." The Boston Globe gave a negative review for Eldest, criticizing the very low points and for "drama that rises to a wet pop." The Christian Science Monitor gave Eldest a C+ grade. Similar to other reviews, it criticized the long plot and its similarities to The Lord of the Rings and Star Wars, as well as the lack of humor. The review commented that Roran, one of the secondary major characters, had the best part of the book. SFSignal also gave Eldest a poor review, giving it one out of five stars. The main reason of this was for its dull pace. The SFSignal review, like The Christian Science Monitor, did say that Roran had the "strongest sequence" in the book.
However, there were also some more positive reviews of Eldest. Bookmarks magazine saw Eldest's similarity to other works, but said that Eldest displayed more emotional depth than Eragon. Publishers Weekly also gave a positive review for Eldest, praising the revelations in the final pages. Barnes & Noble gave a positive review for Eldest, in particular for its style, characters and themes such as friendship, forgiveness, responsibility, and honor. Eldest won the 2006 Quill Award in Young Adult Literature. Eldest also was nominated for a British Book Award in the Children's Book of the Year section, the Disney Adventures Book Award, the Colorado Blue Spruce Award, Young Adult Book Award, and the Wyoming Soaring Eagle Book Award.
As of 2014, no film adaption of Eldest has been announced. If it is, there are many things that would need addressing, seeing as many plot elements crucial to Eldest were left out of the Eragon film. It is generally regarded among fans that Eragon would have to be remade in order for Eldest and the other books to be made into films.