I gushed pretty hard over Paolini’s “Eragon” and rightfully so. I think it was one of the best examples of modern high fantasy I’ve read in a long time and I think it did so by virtue of sticking with convention while at the same time undercutting them to show why they have become tired tropes. With “Eldest”, the second book in his Inheritance cycle, I feel as if the narrative gets wound up in the trappings of its own genre. The book is very heavily bisected between the A and B plot-lines and I personally found myself growing weary of the repetitive nature of Eragon’s A-plot with the elves and far more interested in the goings on with his brother Roran and the exodus from Carvahall. Honestly, Roran’s plot-line seems to deal with the fallout from the first novel more directly than Eragon’s. Eragon goes off to train with the elves and finds himself encapsulated in a slow-moving bubble. Roran’s story has more of the life that the first book had in spades.
I’m not saying it isn’t a good book, because I did want to keep reading. I am saying that compared to the first book there are serious pacing problems. I think that much of it had to do with a desire on Paolini’s part to adhere to the idea that all high fantasy novels need to be over six hundred pages long to further the idea that “epic” is all about page count in terms of writing high fantasy. I honestly believe this installment could have been cut down by half. I truly do.
I’m about to start on book three and I am already steeling myself against the negative aspects in book two that I have a striking suspicion will carry over into the next installment. We shall see.