Read a full summary of Eldest, book #2 in Christopher Paolini’s The Inheritance Cycle series, right here! This page is full of spoilers, so beware. If you are wondering what happened in Eldest, then you are in the right place!
Special thanks to Lindsey Stirling, a new BSR contributor, who wrote this great recap! Visit her website to check out the books she’s written and to keep up with news about her new releases. See the end of the recap for links to her Goodreads, Instagram, and Facebook accounts as well as links to the books she’s published.
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***** Everything below is a SPOILER *****
What happened in Eldest?
The book starts three days after the battle at the end of Eragon. Eragon’s injuries have been healed, but he still suffers fits of pain from the wound on his back inflicted upon him by the Shade. The Varden and the dwarves are hunting down the last of the Urgals in the tunnels under Farthen Dûr. They are caught by surprise and Ajihad, leader of the Varden, is killed. Before he dies, Ajihad makes Eragon promise not to let the Varden fall into chaos. During the same skirmish, Murtagh and the Twins are taken captive by Urgals. Arya goes after them in a rescue attempt but is unable to find them and concludes they have been killed.
Eragon and Saphira are later summoned before the Varden’s Council of Elders, who politically manipulate Eragon into swearing fealty to them as a means of legitimizing their new leader. The Council have chosen Ajihad’s daughter, Nasuada, as the new leader, and Eragon believes the Council mean to control her. After, Eragon speaks with Nasuada, and they come to an agreement that Eragon will swear fealty to her personally and she will allow Eragon to continue his training with the elves.
Roran (Eragon’s cousin) returns to his farm five months after Garrow’s death. He means to rebuild the farm so he can marry Katrina. However, Katrina warns Roran that her father, Sloan, has other suitors in mind. Roran doesn’t know what has become of Eragon and has mixed feelings towards his cousin, who he partly blames for his father’s death.
Roran and Baldor (Horst’s son) go out hunting deer and come across a camp of the King’s soldiers in the mountains. There are Ra’zac with the soldiers, and they realize they may be looking for Roran because of his connection to Eragon. After warning Carvahall, Roran goes into hiding. Later, Albriech (Horst’s other son) brings the news that the Ra’zac have arrived in the village and are waiting to arrest Roran.
Eragon and Saphira visit the Dwarf King Hrothgar. Hrothgar gifts them their armour from the battle, however, he expresses that many dwarves are angry about the destruction of Isidar Mithrim. Saphira offers to restore the gem if they can reassemble the pieces. In the resulting celebrations, she gets drunk.
Eragon and Saphira attend Ajihad’s funeral procession. After, Nasuada is announced as the new leader of the Varden. Arya and Hrothgar pledge the support of the elves and dwarves to Nasuada. Eragon publicly swears fealty to Nasuada, causing outrage from the Council of Elders. Later, Eragon is visited by Trianna, a sorceress, who invites Eragon to join Du Vrangr Gata. Trianna attempts to seduce Eragon until Saphira intervenes.
Nasuada summons Eragon and tells him she means to move the Varden to Surda, a country to the south. Nasuada also decides to publicly announce Eragon and Saphira’s allegiance to the Varden rather than Galbatorix. Meanwhile, Eragon prepares to travel to Du Weldenvarden forest to continue his Rider training with the elves. Before he leaves, King Hrothgar makes Eragon an honorary member of his own clan, Dûrgrimst Ingeitum.
Eragon, Saphira, Orik, and Arya travel to the dwarf city of Tarnag. While there, the dwarf clan Az Sweldn rak Anhûin announces a blood feud against Eragon because he has joined the Ingeitum clan. Eragon also visits the temple of Celbedeil and is taught some of the dwarvish customs and beliefs. Arya and the head priest Gannel argue about differences in their beliefs. The next morning Eragon and his companions leave Tarnag by raft.
Roran remains hidden the mountains near Carvahall. He watches strange events unfolding in the village, but it is not until Baldor comes that he learns the soldiers have killed one of the villagers. Events escalate, and part of Carvahall is set on fire. The villagers decide to fight back, and Roran is fetched to join the battle. He chooses a hammer as his weapon. They succeed in chasing the soldiers away, but the Ra’zac give the ultimatum that the village can either give up Roran and become slaves or refuse and die.
Roran and the other villagers put up defenses around Carvahall. That night, Roran asks Katrina to marry him, and she accepts. The Ra’zac, seeing the village has not surrendered Roran, attack again, killing several more villagers. Although the village wins the skirmish, Roran knows they need to find a safe place for the women and children.
The villagers of Carvahall discuss what to do about the Ra’zac. They decide to send the women and children into the Spine for safety. Roran makes Katrina promise she will go to the Spine, too, though she is angry about it. When Sloan sees Katrina is going into the Spine, he becomes angry at her. Roran intervenes and tells the butcher he and Katrina are engaged. This makes Sloan even more angry. Sloan disowns Katrina and denies her her inheritance. That night, the Ra’zac sneak into Carvahall and attack Horst’s house. Roran is injured, and Katrina is taken captive. As Roran and some other villagers chase after them, they see Sloan with the Ra’zac and realize the butcher has betrayed them.
Roran tries to think of a means to save both Carvahall and Katrina. He decides the best thing is for the villagers to leave Carvahall and travel to join the Varden. He gives a rousing speech to the villagers and persuades many to join him. However, many others are angry with him for causing the disruption to their lives. Despite that, almost the whole village leaves with Roran on the journey, carrying all they can of their possessions and taking their farm animals with them.
Eragon and his companions continue traveling by river towards Du Weldenvarden forest. Eragon has a vision of a battle and is worried it is another premonition like his previous visions about Arya. While practicing sword skills, Eragon has another seizure connected to his wound from the Shade. He is worried his body is too broken to complete the Rider training. As they travel, Eragon’s feelings for Arya begin to grow. However, as they draw closer to the elven city, Arya becomes more tense and fearful.
Arya teaches Eragon some of the elvish customs before they arrive at Ceris, where they meet more elves. The dwarves traveling with them turn back to their homes, and Eragon, Saphira, Arya, and Orik continue on to Ellesméra, the elven capital city which is built from the trees of the forest. Queen Islanzadí greets them and reveals Arya is her daughter. The Queen has a raven companion called Blagden who speaks in riddles but also has prophetic abilities.
The next day Eragon and Saphira are taken to begin their training. They are shocked to discover another dragon and Rider, Oromis and Glaedr, living in Ellesméra. Both Oromis and Glaedr are crippled, Glaedr physically and Oromis mentally, which prevents them from actively fighting Galbatorix. Eragon and Saphira begin their training with Oromis and Glaedr, although Eragon worries his injury from the Shade hinders him.
The older dragon and rider teach them many things, both magical and mundane. Eragon learns more about the history of Alagaësia and the Riders and that Oromis was also master to Brom and Morzan. During a lesson about the ancient language, Eragon is shocked and saddened to learn the blessing he gave to a child at Farthen Dûr was actually a curse because he used the wrong wording. Later, Arya takes Eragon to visit the Menoa Tree and tells him the legend of the elf who created it. Eragon reads this as a warning that he and Arya cannot have a romantic relationship.
Nasuada tries to establish the Varden in the country of Surda, but she is faced with many logistical and political challenges. Orrin, King of Surda, is an old family friend, but even he can only help so far. Eventually, Nasuada has the idea to use magic to create lace and sell it throughout the empire to raise funds for the Varden.
One day, Nasuada is summoned to visit Elva, the child who Eragon inadvertently cursed. The magic means Elva can sense trouble before it happens and she feels compelled to stop harm from befalling anyone. The magic has made her grow at an accelerated rate, so she is already the size of a small child with an adult-like understanding. She says she will help Nasuada end the war.
Eragon and Saphira continue their training, and Eragon continues to suffer from seizures caused by his back injury. Oromis urges Eragon to practice sword fighting with a young elf called Vanir, but they dislike each other and end up insulting each other and getting into real fights with both swords and magic. Oromis teaches Eragon about fighting with magic in battles and the importance of warding. Eragon realizes the Twins must have betrayed him during the battle at Farthen Dûr since they purposefully withheld wards from him.
Eragon learns more of magic and the ancient language in his training. He is shown how to make a fairth, a magical painting, and makes a portrait of Arya. However, Arya is offended by it. Eragon is hurt by her reaction. He wants to pursue a relationship with her, but many people, including Arya, warn him against it due to their great age difference. Eragon tries to throw himself into his studies to take his mind off Arya, but his back injury gets worse and worse.
Glaedr teaches Eragon and Saphira about the true meaning of being a Dragon Rider. A long time ago, the dragons and elves formed a truce to end the war between their races before they destroyed each other. To bind them to the truce, they used magic to meld the souls of dragons and elves. The magic changed both races, giving dragons the ability of language and elves their strength and long life. Humans were later added to the spell, linking them too. The three races are all bound together, and if one suffers, like the dragons are currently, then they all suffer.
Eragon and Saphira are in Ellesméra for the Agaetí Blödhren festival, which celebrates the time the dragons and elves were joined. All the elves gather around the Menoa Tree, and each presents something they have created. Eragon writes a poem about his experiences in becoming a Rider. During the final part of the three-day ceremony, a dragon spirit containing all the memories of dragonkind is summoned through magic. The spirit bestows a gift on Eragon, healing him of all his past wounds, including his back injury. This process also changes his appearance to look even more like an elf.
Roran leads the people of Carvahall to the port of Narda. They find wanted posters for Roran and Eragon in the town centre. Roran wonders what has become of his cousin and what he has done to merit such a high reward. They manage to hire a fleet of barges to carry them down the coast to Teirm, but Roran is forced to kill two soldiers on the escape from Narda. Clovis, the captain, is not happy when he discovers the true cargo for the journey is people. Clovis almost refuses to take them until Roran tells him the full story of their journey and reasons for fleeing.
Roran and his people arrive at Teirm. A small group enter the city to find provisions and attempt to buy passage to Surda. While there, they meet a merchant called Jeod Longshanks and try to buy supplies from him, but he is bankrupt. However, Jeod recognizes Roran as Eragon’s cousin, and they discover he is an ally who can help them reach the Varden. Jeod tells them Eragon’s story, and Roran is shocked to learn his cousin in the new Rider. Jeod helps Roran and the villagers of Carvahall steal the Dragon Wing, one of the King’s ships, and sail away from Teirm towards Surda.
Roran and the villagers are chased by the Ra’zac on their flying mounts, the Lethrblaka, although they realize that the Ra’zac seem afraid of the open water. Later, some of Galbatorix’s ships catch up with them. To escape, Roran decides to take their ship on the risky route through the Boar’s Eye whirlpool. All the villagers must help to row the ship, but they manage to pull through and lose their pursuers.
Nasuada is saved from an assassination attempt by the girl, Elva. They discover Galbatorix has a network of spies and assassins known as the Black Hand. Nasuada tasks Trianna and the Du Vrangr Gata to eradicate the Black Hand. Soon after, news comes to Surda that Galbatorix’s army is on the move and it is much larger than they had thought, around 100,000 men. Nasuada sends word to the dwarves and elves for help.
Eragon continues his training and finds his body and mind much altered after the Agaetí Blödhren. He now has the skill and strength of the elves and is able to easily beat Vanir in sparring. He also completes his meditations in the glade and is able to feel the minds of all beings. Oromis says in the old days, this would have marked his graduation to full Rider. He shares a secret of magic with Eragon: Magicians can take energy from any living creature to perform spells, but it comes at a high cost.
Eragon has a vision again about a terrible battle. Shortly after, he is visited by the raven Blagden who recites two riddles which Eragon can’t make sense of. He decides to scry his friends. He sees Nasuada preparing the Varden for war and Roran and the villagers on a ship somewhere. He is distraught to see Carvahall destroyed. Eragon and Saphira decide the time has come to leave Ellesméra and return to help the Varden. Before they leave, Oromis gives them three gifts: a bottle of the restorative potion faelnirv, a jeweled belt that can store magical energy, and an illustrated scroll of Eragon’s poem. Queen Islanzadí also gives Eragon a new elven bow.
How did Eldest end?
Eragon, Saphira, and Orik travel to Surda to rejoin the Varden. They find the Varden have already left for battle and go to join them on the Burning Plains. Eragon recognizes the location as the place from his visions. Before the battle begins, Eragon takes control of Du Vrangr Gata, despite Trianna’s reluctance, in order to prepare the magicians for battle.
An Urgal army arrives, but to their surprise, the army is bearing the white flag of truce. Nasuada agrees to speak with their leader. The war chief, Nar Garzhvog, comes to the Varden camp and explains Galbatorix had betrayed them and enslaved the Urgals to make them fight at Farthen Dûr. Now the Urgals want to form an alliance with the Varden against the King. Despite protests from many, Nasuada agrees.
Later, Nasuada tells Eragon she has arranged for some Urgals to guard him during the battle. Eragon is outraged since he sees the Urgals as a lesser race to men, dwarves, and elves, yet Nasuada insists. The Urgals give permission for Eragon to examine their minds to prove their good intentions. Eragon reluctantly agrees, and after searching Nar Garzhvog’s mind, he finds he is able to see Urgals and their culture in a new light and accepts their help for the coming battle.
The next morning, the Varden and the Empire’s armies face each other in open battle. Eragon begins by helping Du Vrangr Gata protect their forces from enemy magicians, but it soon becomes clear he and Saphira must enter the fight if they are to have a chance of winning. Even then, it seems the battle will be lost until the dwarvish army, led by King Hrothgar, arrives and evens the field.
Roran and the villagers of Carvahall sail up the river near the battlefield. They are confronted by a Dragon Rider and are amazed to see it is Eragon. Eragon tells Roran to stay away from the battle, but Roran stubbornly decides to join the battle anyway.
For a short time, it seems the Varden are winning; however, a new Dragon Rider on a red dragon arrives, revealing another of the last three dragon eggs has now hatched. The Rider kills King Hrothgar of the dwarves, and Eragon and Saphira chase after him. The two dragons fight in the sky until they grow too tired. Then Eragon faces the other Rider in hand to hand combat. Eragon is dismayed to find the new Rider is far stronger than him, and he is soon overpowered. However, he manages to pull off the Rider’s helmet, revealing that it is Murtagh.
Murtagh explains when the Twins betrayed the Varden, they took him captive and returned him to Galbatorix, where he was punished and forced to reveal information about Eragon, Saphira, and the Varden. When Thorn, the red dragon, hatched, they were both forced to swear allegiance to Galbatorix in the ancient language, meaning they have no choice but to obey the King’s every order. The Twins arrive on the battlefield in Murtagh’s wake, spelling disaster for the Varden. However, Roran manages to sneak up on them and kill them, allowing the Varden and their allies to finally rout the Empire’s forces.
Eragon pleads with Murtagh, but Murtagh says he has no hope of ever being free. The only reason he has not killed Eragon is because Saphira is the last female dragon and Galbatorix wants her alive. Yet Murtagh shows mercy and says he will not take Eragon captive this time, although he can make no promises about the next time they meet. Before he goes, Murtagh takes Eragon’s sword, Zar’roc, saying Morzan’s blade should go to the eldest son. He explains he is Eragon’s brother and Morzan was also Eragon’s father. Eragon doesn’t want it to be true, but the story fits all the facts he knows about his parents. Eragon remembers part of Angela’s prophecy that a family member would betray him.
After the battle, Eragon and Roran finally get a chance to catch up. They share their stories and come to terms with the terrible things they have seen and done. Amidst all the revelations, Eragon decides Garrow was his true father—not Morzan—and Roran is his brother. Roran asks Eragon to help him rescue Katrina, and Eragon agrees that together they will kill the Ra’zac.
There you go! That’s what happened in Eldest. We hope you enjoyed this Eldest summary with spoilers.
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