Tuesday, November 15, 2011

Eldest, by Christopher Paolini

Eldest is the second book of Inheritance, by Christopher Paolini. You have to read Eragon to understand this book. The story starts when Ajihad (leader of the Varden), Murtagh (friend of Eragon), the twins (twin magicians), and others are hunting for the remainder of the Urgals in the tunnels of Tronjheim, a large dwarf city in the Beor Mountains. As Ajihad is returning from the hunt, he and his soldiers are ambushed by a surviving group of Urgals. The onslaught occurs in front of the entire Varden (a rebel group living with the dwarves in Trinjheim), but no one realizes what is happening before the ambush is over. As Saphira (a dragon), and Eragon (Saphira's Rider) approach, they realize there are no survivors, and that the beloved leader of the Varden was dead. However, he also finds that Murtagh and the twins are missing from the dead pile. He asks Arya, and elf friend, to go after the Urgals and rescue the kidnapped. She returns later with bloodied clothes, proving that Murtagh and the Twins were dead. A meeting of the Council of Elders is called, along with Eragon, Saphira, and Arya, to decide whom the new leader of the Varden should be. The Council of Elfers basically force Eragon, Saphira, and Arya to agree with the Council that Nasuada, Ajihad's daughter, should follow Ajuhad. The Council tells Nasuada, and she agrees. After the meeting, Eragon swears his fealty to her, becoming her first vassal. now, Eragon, Saphira, Arya, and Orik, a dwarf, must travel to Ellesmera (the capital of the elves' country) in DuWelden Varden (a forest where the elves live) so Eragon and Saphira can continue to train in magic and combat under the elves command. Before they leave, Hrothgar, the king of all dwarves, offers Eragon to join his clan (there are thirteen dwarf clans) and Eragon accepts after he realizes it was a great privilege. They first travel to Narga, another dwarf city in the Beor Mountains. There, Eragon is confronted by dwarves from the Az Sweldn rak Anhuin clan. They are enraged to learn that Eragon is a member of Hrothgar's clan, Durgrimst Ingeitum, and swear that in time, they will kill Eragon. The group then travels to Ellesmera uneventfully. Meanwhile, in carvahall, where Eragon grew up, Eragon's cousin, Roran, learned that Eragon was responsible for his father's death and the destruction of their farm. He is working to rebuild his life and farm so he can face his love's father. He is in love with Katrina, Sloan the Butcher's daughter. However, there is another problem, the Ra'zac, the inhuman creatures that are really responsible for killing Roran's father, are back to arrest Roran now. Roran flees into the Spine to hide for a while. The Ra'zac and their soldiers stay in Carvahall to wait for Roran. After the soldiers set fire to the town, and the Ra'zac killed and ate someone in Carvahall, the town decides to fight back. They succeed in holding off the soldiers for a while. Roran proposes to Katrina without the consent from Sloan after a battle, and Sloan finds out. He tries to get Katrina back, but Katrina is loyal to Roran, so Sloan secretly goes to the Ra'zac and makes a bargain with them. Late that night, the Ra'zac came into Roran's room and tries ti kill him, but he manages to fend off the soldiers and becomes unstoppable with his weapon: a simple hammer. The Ra'zac give up and just kidnap Katrina, much to the dismay and anger of Roran. He tries to stop the Ra'zac, but they run away too fast. The town then learns that reinforcements are coming, and Roran convinces everyone to leave and head for Narda, a city over the Spine. Meanwhile, Eragon learns his new teachers are another dragon and Rider. His is shocked because until then, he thought he was the only Rider outside of Galbatorix's reach. The Rider's name is Oromis and the dragon's name is glaedr. Oromis and Glaedr teach Eragon and Saphira many new things about magic, battling, and other topics. Switching to the Barde, Nasuada has successfully moved the Varden from the Beor Mountains to Surda, a country that lives outside of the Empire's reach. (See the map at the very beginning of the book.) She plans turn the tide on the Empire and go onto the offensive. She moves the Varden to Aroughs to get ready for their first attack on the Empire. In the meantime, Roran and all of Carvahall have made it to Narda and have successfully rented barges to take them to Teirm. They reach Teirm and find a man named Jeod, a sailor and secret agent of the Varden. He helps the villagers commander a large enough ship to hold all the people from Carvahall. They set sail for Surda. Back in Ellesmera, Eragon attends the Blood Oath Ceremony of the elves. During the ceremony, two elves do a dance and, during a dance, an image of a dragon appears and heals Eragon of his horrible back wound that he gained at the last battle in Tronjheim. After this, Eragon now looks like an elf, and has the physical strength of one too. Soon he learns that the Varden are about to go to battle against the Empire. He finds his dwarf friend Orik, and they fly Saphira to Aroughs to join the Varden. The next day, a group of about one hundred Kull, a large species of Urgals, offer their assistance against the Empire to Nusuada, who agrees despite advice not to. The next day, the battle is on! In the middle of the battle, Roran and Carvahall come up a river to aid the Varden. Also, the Twins reappear on the Empire's side, slaughtering the Varden. To add to the situation, another Dragon Rider comes and is on the Empire's side. Eragon and Saphira must face this new threat. But they are tired from battle already! Will Eragon and Saphira have enough energy to defeat the new Rider? Can the Varden overcome the Twins and the Empire? Find out!
Personally, I think this was the perfect sequel to Eragon. The story was exciting, suspenseful, and full of surprises. I recommend this book for teens, and also any one who likes fiction or fantasy.
-K.C., grade 9.

Monday, November 14, 2011

Delirium, by Lauren Oliver

Dystopian romance caught my attention. Of course, the title, Delirium, by Lauren Oliver, and cover of the book had a lot to do with me picking out this book, but I came to realize that was behind that cover was the best part. The title of the book is derived from the book's main focus, a disease called amor delitia nervosa, which people once thought was a disease, but is now widely agreed as one of the worst illnesses. In this society, upon reaching the age eighteen, every citizen is required to be "cured" of this disease. The cure is a surgery involving brain which will eradicate the deliria and furthermore remove the emotion and ability to feel love, and promote a better living for the citizen. Our main character, Lena, seems calm and strong, living under her Aunt Carol's rules and taking care of her two younger cousins. She anticipates the day where she will be cured. Behind this calm, smart, and very obedient Lena, darkness unfolds, and secrets untold lurk in her mind, one being her mother's suicide. She is ridiculed by her strange past. Lena's idea of the society completely changes when she meets a boy, with amber brown eyes. Both characters are well developed and Lena isn't one of those main characters you usually read about who are "perfect."
I am greatly anticipating the release of the sequel to Delirium. Unlike many futuristic and fictional stories published, this one gives a sense of reality and possibility between the idea, and the characters. I would highly recommend this book to those who love fiction, science, and romance all in one. Aside from reading mysterious ideas, and dystopian theories, Lauren Oliver delivers and idea that captivates the minds of teenagers and young adults, based on everyday things they feel. I would even say this book has a psychological twist, and will keep you on your toes until the very last word.

-Reviewed by A.A., grade 12.