Eldest is a high fantasy novel and the second book in the Inheritance Cycle, written by Christopher Paolini, and released on August 23, 2005. It continues the story of Eragon, following the events of the first book, and details his story of him going to the elf forest of Ellesméra to start his official training to become a Dragon Rider. The book also details the story of his cousin Roran as he leads his villagers when they are attacked by The Empire.
After an extensive tour in the US and the UK which lasted into 2004, Paolini began writing Eldest. Upon publication in August 2005, Paolini toured extensively throughout the US, Canada, UK, Spain, Germany, France, and Italy.
Eldest begins right after Eragon ends.
Ajihad, leader of the Varden is ambushed by a group of Urgals, which leads to his death. It turns out that the Twins have betrayed the Varden by arranging the ambush and kidnapping Murtagh. Eragon, who witnessed Ajihad's death, is summoned to the Council of Elders to help chose the new leader of the Varden. They want to choose Ajihad's daughter Nasuada as their new leader, as they want to use her as a puppet for their wishes. Eragon agrees with their choice and agrees to pledge his fealty. When the Council tells Nasuada of their decision, Eragon stuns the Council by swearing fealty to Nasuada instead of them, and it turns out that Nasuada isn't as easy to control as they first thought.
Meanwhile, back at Carvahall, Roran has returned to his home after he heard of Garrow's death, which he blames on Eragon for bring the blue stone to their house. While he is trying to tell Sloan that he wants to marry his daughter Katrina, Blador, one of Horst's sons, tells them that he has spotted the Ra'zac and thirty Imperial soldiers camped nearby. Roran then hides in the Spine.
Saphira promises to the dwarf king Hrothgar to repair the Isidar Mithrim after she and Arya destroyed it to save Eragon from Durza. She then gets drunk at a dwarf feast, which she is afterwards informed that she will be the subject of a ballad for many years to come. At Ajiha's funeral, Nasuada is officially announced as the new leader of the Varden, and Eragon publicly swears fealty to her. Eragon meets a sorceress named Trianna, who tries to woo him to join the Du Vrangr Gata (ancient language for The Wandering Path), which is a group of magic useres who serve in the Varden. She is chased away by Saphira. Before Eragon and Saphira leave for Ellesméra, Orik comes to him with a gift from Horthagr: a chance to be adopted into the dwarf clan Dûrgrimst Ingeitum. Eragon accepts, becoming the first human to join a dwarf clan. Eragon and Saphira say goodbye to Angela and Solembum, who will be accompanying the Varden. The two leave for Ellesméra, and are accompanied by Arya and Orik.
Roran hears from Albriech, one of Horst's sons, that the brewer Quimby has been eaten by the Ra'zac. Roran and several other men, including Quimby's thirteen-year-old son named Nolfarvrell, decide to fight back. They are able to kill some of the soldiers, but some of their own are also killed in the process. They build a wall against the Ra'zac. Shortly after, there is another battle, where more villagers die, including a ten year old named Elmund. Quimby's widow, Birgit, tells Roran that she has a blood feud against him, because of him being related to Eragon, and also because she feels that Roran is the cause of her husband's death. Roran and Katrina are finally engaged. The Ra'zac then make a threat, saying that if the villagers give up Roran, they will be enslaved, but if they don't, they'll be killed.
Eragon, Saphira, Arya, and Orik stop at a dwarf city called Tarnag. However, it turns out that not all the dwarf clans are happy about Eragon being adopted to Dûrgrimst Ingeitum, especially a clan named Dûrgrimst Az Swelden rak Anhûin. which hates all Dragon Riders. Eragon visits a dwarf temple called Celbedeil, where he learns about their religion and six deities. The group leaves when the city becomes increasingly unstable. The rest of the journey is fairly uneventful, except when Eragon learns that dwarves have seven toes on each foot instead of five, and encounters Fanghurs, which are small dragon like creatures which live in Beor Mountains. Arya teaches Eragon how to act among the elves.
The grouo arrives at the elven outpost of Ceris. There, two elves named Lifaen and Narí, who accompany them. They tell Eragon of King Palancar, who lived in Carvahall and led the humans in the before times. As they near an elven city, Eragon and Orik are overcome by elven singing, driving them into a rage when they are held back by their elven guards.
The Carvahall villagers are fighting over whether they want to be enslaved or killed. Roran convinces them to escort the women and children into the Spine. He even convinces Katrina o go, despite the fact that her father hates the Spine. Sloan then learns and forces himself to accept that Roran and Katrina are engaged. However, Sloan betrays the villagers by murdering the watchman Byrd, and allowing the Ra'zac to kidnap Katrina and wound Roran. Afterwards, Roran convinces most of the villagers to go to Surda. However, a few of the villagers don't go with them.
In Ellesméra, the group meets the elven Queen Islanzadí. It turns out that Arya is her daughter. Eragon meets a female werecat named Maud and a talking bird called Blagden. Then, Eragon meets a Dragon Rider called Oromis, whom Eragon knows as the Mourning Sage/Togira Ikonoka (ancient language for The Cripple who is Whole), and his three legged dragon named Glaedr. It was they who taught Brom, Morzan, and their dragons. Oromis is weak, and therefore is not able to take part in the war against Galbatorix, but has woven countless spells around himself so that he is able to live long enough to train the next Rider.
Eragon and Saphira begin their training under Oromis and Glaedr. It turns out that the baby whom Eragon blessed in the first book, he actually cursed since the blessing he used, 'atra guliä un ilian tauthr ono un atra ono waíse skölir fra rauthr,’ means 'may luck and happiness follow you and may you be a shield from misfortune,' instead of 'may luck and happiness follow you and may you be shielded from misfortune.' Arya introduces him to a female smith Rhunön who made all of the Rider's swords, including Zar'roc, though she has sworn an oath to never make another weapon ever again. Arya shows a tree to Eragon called the Menoa Tree, which was once an elf woman. Eragon remembers the tree from the advice that Solembum gave to him in the first book.
The Varden have reached Aberon, Sudra's capital. Orrin, the king of Surda, is relatively young and a chemist. He is worried that Nasuada is taking over his country. Trying to finance the Varden, Nasuada tells Trianna to magically create lace. Nasuada meets Elva, the cursed baby, who now appears to be four years old and is able to speak due to the curse that Eragon put on her. Instead of being shielded from misfortune, she shields others from misfortune. After complaints from the lace guild, King Orrin vetoes the lace idea.
Back in Ellesméra, Eragon learns a lot of new stuff, including debate, logic, history, geography, magic, and sword fighting. he becomes fluent in the ancient language. Every day he spars with an elf named Vanir, through his back injury keeps Eragon from fighting his best He learns that Orik is engaged to Hvedra, another dwarf. Eragon learns that the Ra'zac ride on their parents, the Lethrblaka, and learns that not all Urgals are evil. Saphira has lessons from Glaedr. Eragon begins to feel attracted to Arya, but knows that he can never be with her, especially because of their age gap (she being over a hundred years old). He also learns that the elves are atheists, vegetarians, and practice civil unions, instead of marriage.
Roran and the other villagers arrive at the port city of Narda. They find three barges and convince the captain Clovis to take them to Teirm. In Teirm, Roran, Gertrude, Birgit, Nolfavrell, Byrd's son Mandel, and an elder called Loring, enter the city in disguise. Gertrude and Mandel go off in search of Angela, and the others visit Jeod in search of a ship. When Nolfavrell is about to revel something to Jeod, Roran interrupts by asking about Angela's shop, and Jeod answers. Nolfavrell asks if that was who Gertrude was looking for. Jeod, recognizing Gertrude's name from what Brom said, tells Roran what happened to Eragon and Brom. They pirate a ship with the rest of the villagers to Surda. Jeod's wife Helen almost doesn't come, but does at the last minute. When they are pursued by the Empire, they risk their lives by going across a gigantic whirlpool named Boar's Eye. They make it, but their enemies aren't so lucky.
Glaedr teaches Eragon and Saphira about dragons. Then there is a celebration called the Blood-Oath Celebration, which honors the first Riders. Everyone is supposed to come with a hand made work that did not have magic to help make it. Eragon goes and his are work is a poem he wrote, symbolic of his struggles up to that point. Then Iduna and Neya, combined female elves with a dragon tattoo on their body start dancing. As they start dancing faster and faster, the dragon comes to life and gives Eragon a gift. The gift is that it washes his body of all impurities, including the wound on his back, and makes him an elf-human hybrid. Afterwards, he scries the Varden with magic, and learns that war with Galbatorix seems imminent. Upon hearing this, Eragon, Saphira, and Orik immediately leave to go to their aid. They stop at Aberon to find out that the battle will be on the Burning Plains.
Eragon arrives at the Burning Plains to find that war is about to happen. The armies of the Verden, mixed with the army of Surda, camp on a plain opposite of Galbatorix's armies. Some Urgals, led by Nar Garzhvog, who have been freed from Durza's spell, ask to join the Varden. At first, Eragon hates the idea, but after he looks into the mind of the Ugals, and with the help of Nasuada and Saphira, he accepts them into the ranks of the Varden. The battle begins, and the two armies fight each other. The tide of the battle shifts between the two sides. Eragon and Saphira fight for the Varden, and the Twins are there fighting for the Empire. With the appearance of the dwarves, the situation changes to favor the Varden. Roran comes with Jeod and the villagers.
However, a mysterious Rider comes, riding a red dragon, and kills Horthgar with magic. Eragon faces off with the new Rider. On a platue overlooking the Burning Plains, the Rider turns out to be Murtagh, who was forces swear fealty to Galbatorix after being taken to Galbatorix by the Twims. He and his dragon Thorn have become more powerful than Eragon and Saphira by unknown means. Murtagh decides to have mercy on Eragon and Saphira, by bending an oath he had sworn to Galbatorix in the ancient language. But then, Murtagh takes Zar'roc as his birthright and tells Eragon a truth: that they are brothers. While this is happening, Roran sneaks behind the Twins and kills them with a hammer.
After Murtagh and Thorn leave, the Varden are victorious, and Eragon and Roran reunite. Roran then asks Eragon to help him to rescue Katrina from the Ra'zac.
The book ends by saying that the story will be continued in Brisingr.
Although the back of the Eragon DVD cover says that it was the first movie in the Inheritance Film Trilogy (before the book series was split into four parts), as of 2014, there has been no plans of making an Eldest movie. However, if they do, and it is a continuation of the first movie, there would need to be major plot elements crucial to Eldest that would need to be addressed since they were left out in the first film. The best possible option would be to remake the whole Inheritance Film Cycle.