With Paolini’s second novel, Eldest, I begin to understand and even agree with some of the critiques people have of the individual novels. However, I remain disappointed in the generic critiques of the writing and the author, with disregard to the merits of the story.
This does not excuse the editing issues, or the monotonous detail driven paragraphs. In this day and age a book is no longer created by an individual. The myriad editors and staff (and Paolini’s parents) involved should have caught most, if not all of these mistakes/passages. To be fair on the publishing industry from what I learned in my copyediting class, they may have made the suggestions and Paolini rejected them, but who knows. Regardless, the story is a moving and fast paced epic which if you allow it draws you in to events bigger than any individual.
As Eldest progresses, you quickly realize this is not going to be as fast-moving as Eragon, but holds promise for the series. As with most fantasy/science-fiction novels, Paolini created the world from scratch and therefore has to provide its history, and that is where (I believe) the majority of complaints lay. In having to describe a world, its inhabitants and everything that has occurred I believe Paolini got distracted and attempted to do too much with the series. If he would’ve focused on refining the story and not necessarily on fleshing out every bit of detail or history, the story’s impact would’ve been much stronger.
Where I’ve realized Paolini is weakest and truly lets the readers down is the last quarter of each book. Perhaps he will make it up to us with a masterful closing of the series, but I won’t hold my breath. So far, the events that take place in the last quarter of the novels are the most important and most revealing and by far given the least amount of space. It’s as if Paolini believes the climax has to occur in the last 50-100 pages and although it’s frustrating it’s worked well to place the next book, but how will the series end? As cliff hangers, yes they work, all you want to do is pick up the next book, but the revelations and the actions have such an impact the lack of dedicated space is worrisome.
Where Paolini continues to excel is the creation of quirky characters and the complicated interweaving of an epic struggle for peace. The reader may get distracted (as undoubtedly Paolini did), but the story does move forward and his created world begins to take even more shape.
Recommendation: Read it with an open mind. As a sophomore novel and a second novel in what was originally a trilogy, it’s rather on par with others when compared to other novels in the series.