I have been reading Eldest by Christopher Paolini for quite some time now. I have not finished the book yet but I am drawing close to the end and I feel appropriate to comment now as I feel I’ve arrived at one of the most interesting twists in the tale so far. Now I’m at the point where Roran meets Jeod and together they are planning to escape to Surda. Well before I go farther I would like to mention what journeying through this book has been so far and what captivates my interest.
I must say the very beginning of the book is like Bang on. You see Ahjihad’s no more, Murtagh disappeared without any knowledge whether he’s dead or alive (but somewhere deep beneath the mechanism of your thoughts you know that he can’t just go away, not like this and that feeling keeps tickling you throughout), a scarred Eragon suffering from the blight inflicted on him by the Shade Durza, the politics of the Council of Elders regarding Nasuada’s coronation, the upheaval in Carvahall with the appearance of the Ra’zac and what becomes of Roran from then on and last but not the least the mystery surrounding Togira Ikonoka. Beginning the book with these cycles of events is phenomenal.
Though sometimes I felt the book to be quite a drag with rumblings of unwanted mentions, I cannot defy the fact that it manages to hold the readers interest with its dramatic and engaging plot and twists. The eventful beginning itself makes sure you have the readers hooked. As you travel further you find some of the chapters to possess exquisite beauty and a strong emotional appeal which eventually connects with the reader. With a purpose to illustrate, in the chapter ‘On the Crags of Tel’naeir’, Eragon and Sapphira meet face to face with the Mourning Sage Oromis and his Golden Dragon Glaedr. This chapter represents a revival of the hope of the young Rider Eragon that all is not lost and what he beholds is far more greater than he would have ever expected. One of the strongest forte possessed by Master Paolini is his ability to describe events, situations, people and their feelings with an admirable aesthetic grace weaving verbs and adjectives perfectly in the fabric of eloquent metaphors. He also seems to possess the gift of gentle and effortless flow of language. I insist yet again some of the chapters are beautifully described such as Diamonds in the Night, Under the Menoa Tree and especially those beginning from Broken Egg and Scattered Nest to An Unexpected Ally. The insights that one comes across in Why do we fight? and Eragon’s other lessons with Oromis are nourished with wisdom and rich knowledge that are relevant even to reality. While the most captivating chapters and twists are embedded in ‘His Enemies Face’ when the Ra’zac ambush Horst’s house and kidnap Katrina and later the shocking revelation of the treachery of Sloan and the appearance of the Ra’zac’s fearsome, supernatural steeds in the sky followed by their flight into the dark of the vast expanse, the presence of Oromis and Glaedr in ‘On the Crags of Tel’naeir’, Eragon’s healing to wholeness in ‘The Gift of Dragons’ during the blood-oath celebration, Revelation of the child Sapphira and Eragon blessed in Farthen Dur in ‘Elva’ and unveiling of the pretenses and disclosure of the true identities of Roran and the refugees from Carvahall to Jeod in ‘Jeod Longshanks’ and thereafter the exchange of tales between Roran and Jeod and inception of a vicious, brilliant and adventurous plan in Jeod’s mind to flee Teirm in ‘An unexpected Ally’. I say with all my pride so far, so brilliant.
What primarily captivates my interest though in this book is Roran. Yes Roran and not Eragon. Roran’s arrival in Carvahall and all the events thereafter have taken to my fancy. Roran’s transition from a farm boy who is deeply in love with Katrina to a Man who takes up the leadership and responsibility to protect his entire village is truly remarkable. Roran is utterly doomed, abandoned to the will of his enemies but he makes a choice to rise from the shackles of calamity with zeal and fortitude. Unlike Eragon, he possess no magical powers, neither a Dragon to protect him if he happens to fall in the pit of perils which he alone is not strong enough to overcome. Roran is nothing but an ordinary man. Yet Roran with all the strength left in him, with all the will he can muster makes the valiant, uncertain yet significant decision to oppose the Empire and leave Carvahall for good. With his charismatic speech he motivates the entire village to follow him, convincing them into believing that they ought to fight for their right to live as free men and oppose an exploitative ruler. Roran gives Carvahall hope. He becomes their Leader, their Shepherd, their Provider, their decision-maker and if I may say so the Author of their destinies. Roran possess several qualities such as determination, cleverness and the will to act when others would resist. His circumstances and goals have made him fearless and wild yet with all the internal and external conflict he faces, he has not forsaken his principles and holds on to kindness like before. For example, when he enters Teirm despite his situation and needs he considers thieving innocent farmers to satisfy his own provisions an act of murder. Roran also has great endurance and all his hardships only seem to makes his will to accomplish his ambition grow stronger. Even when he has lost so much in life, Garrow, his Father, Katrina, his love, Eragon, his cousin and his Farm in Carvahall, all that meant the most to him all his life, Roran ignoring his own sorrows is determined to protect his village come what may. There is a world of difference between Roran Garrowsson and Roran Stronghammer. I also want to mention that one cannot understate the role of the villagers in supporting Roran. Their trust in his leadership and obedience of his word comfort Roran and inturn motivate him.
Eragon and Roran, being brothers in blood share the similar fate, but the ways in which each one tackles the challenges lying ahead of him are as interesting as their contrasting natures. All I can say is Long Live Eragon Shadeslayer and Long Live Roran Stronghammer.