I'm almost finished reading the second installment of Christopher Paolini's Inheritance Trilogy. There are three storylines in Eldest. The first several chapters follow the adventures of Eragon and Saphira. Then there are several chapters on the trails and tribulations of Eragon's cousin, Roran. Then there are a couple of chapters about what Nasuada, Eragon's liegelord, is doing as the new leader of the Varden. The storylines alternate all throughout the book. That reminds me of the Lord of the Rings and the parallel storylines of what Frodo and Sam were doing and what the rest of the Fellowship were doing. I have to say though, I'm much, much more interested in what Eragon is doing than in what Roran or Nasuada is doing. I know that what Roran and Nasuada are doing is very important to the whole plot of the book/trilogy, but I expected the book/trilogy to be just about the Rider and his dragon. I think the best part about the Inheritance Trilogy is the relationship and the heroic deeds of the Rider and his dragon. So I feel kind of impatient when I am reading all those chapters about the other characters. But I am still thoroughly enjoying Eldest. =) I love being in the world of Alagaesia and I resent it when I have to leave Eragon and his world in order to return to my own world. =(
So how is Christopher Paolini as a writer in Eldest? It's funny, when I read Eldest it's almost as if I can hear Paolini reading the words out loud to me/telling me the story. Many times I feel as if I can sense which parts of the book are taken from or influenced by Paolini's own life. For example, Paolini has said that Montana (where he lives with his family) is the inspiration for Alagaesia. So whenever the land of Alagaesia is being described in Eldest, I think about how Paolini must have seen similar places in Montana. I consciously and unconsciously think about the writer of Eldest while reading it. I don't usually do that while reading a book.
As a writing teacher in a university, I have to say that Paolini's writing is more sophisticated in Eldest. The problem is, it seems like he is trying too hard. It is too obvious that he is working to make his writing more sophisticated. And Paolini's secondary world is too obviously influenced by other fantasy stories. For example, Eragon's (so far futile) pursuit of Arya is reminiscent of the Lord of the Rings' Aragorn's pursuit of Arwen when he was still a young man. It's a good thing that the very essence of the Inheritance Trilogy is the telepathic connection and love between a Rider and his dragon. That, I think, is something original from Paolini and the best thing about his story. Take that relationship between dragon and Rider away and Paolini is offering nothing new to fantasy lovers. Take that relationship away and his books would be a flop.
I should slow down while reading Eldest because I am almost finished reading it and I know that I will be sad when the story is "over." =( =( =( I already can't wait unitl the third book is out!