And on to other things...
I just finished reading Eldest by Christopher Paolini and have to say that I very much enjoyed it. I'd already become a fan of the first book, Eragon, and this being the second in the trilogy I was pleasantly surprised by it. My biggest complaint is that much of the book could have been edited out for sake of space, or for the sake of adding more riveting elements to the other storylines. However, this is a great work, I must say, and must give the young lad a bit of credit for his excellent grasp of language and emotion.
The book is, as most fantasy stories are, very much 'derivative', but then, so is most everything you will ever read within this genre. This is something that many complain about in reference to his writing, and I find that to be rather deplorable. First off, there are few, if any, great works of fantasy that do not acquire their elements from things previously written or discussed, or that have previously happened in the past. That's impossible. I'm sorry if you think that everything within the fantasy genre is capable of being purely original, because nothing is original anymore. You might have a few elements nobody has ever done before, but you are following a heroic archetype that has been used by thousands if not millions of people before you. So, right from the start you are already sitting in that derivative bin. Even my own work can be called derivative, something of which I don't much like. If you look at it, I've drawn up elements from all sorts of stories already told, taken some things from English mythology and folklore, and of course fallen into some already used heroic archetypes, which cannot be helped mind you. Tolkien's work is derivative, drawing many elements from heroic poems and mythologies that he had read throughout his school experience and after. So for anyone to say that something is derivative should probably take a step back and realize that everything is derivative. Even regular fiction...or literature.
Now, as for Eldest. There's much to be said about this. First, Paolini has put Eragon into some terrible positions within this book and by the end of it you start to think about whether or not Eragon and those that follow him have much of a chance against the Empire. That is an incredible thing to do when you've gone throughout the book thinking he might stand a chance to realizing he hasn't the ability as of yet to do much of anything against Galbatorix or his minions. I was drawn very closely into Roran's story and found that to be one of the most riveting parts of this second installment since much of the work with Eragon is rather dull. You start to actually want to learn more about what Roran is doing--and Paolini does a great job doing that for you.
So I have to say that if you liked the first book, give this one a go. It is more than worth the time and effort!