Author: Christopher Paolini
Guided reading level: W
Interest level: grade 6-8
Lexile: 970L
Grade level equivalent: 7.8
My recommended age: 12 and up

Eldest immediately continues the story of Eragon and Saphira.  Following the battle at Farthen Dûr, the Varden, under the leadership of Nausada, sets out to stage an offensive against Galbatorix and the empire.  Meanwhile, Eragon and Saphira travel to the Elves in Du Weldenvarden in order to continue their training as dragon and rider.  An unexpected surprise awaits them with the Elves, but in order to become a truely great hero, Eragon must learn that there is much more to life than he ever knew possible.  Far away, Roran is forced to lead the people of Carvahall across the land of Alegasia to find safety and protection with the Varden at Surda.  Their journey is met with many dangers, and it takes all of Roran's skills as a leader to get the people safely there.  

I was a bit better prepared for the graphic nature of this book; however, it was still a bit unnerving.  As in the first book, there are many gory battle scenes, with details that leave little to the imagination.  Roran's weapon of choice is a hammer, and we read how he kills people with it.  The Ra'zac are horrible creatures that murder their victims in many disgusting ways. There is also kidnapping, dark magic, bloody battles,  an incident of fornication, an extremely creepy enchanted child, and many disgusting creatures.  As for the story itself, I enjoyed it, but it felt about 300 pages too long.  The middle dragged and I thought Eragon would never leave the Elves.  It also runs so parallel to Star Wars, I'm surprised there wasn't a copyright infringement.  If you enjoyed the first book, as I did, then I would recommend this one as well; though I would urge caution in letting your kids younger than 12 read it.  Remember, just because your child might be an advanced reader and capable of comprehending the grade level that a book is written on, does not mean they are ready for the content!


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