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The Council of Elders were the governing council in the Varden, though it was more a formality than authoritarian. The Council, as portrayed in Eldest, were mostly a corrupt and greedy group of people, more worried about power for themselves and the Council than helping the Varden. They were meant to be the advisers to the current leader of the Varden, but usually tried to manipulate and undermine the leader they were meant to advise.
After Ajihad died, the Council decided that they would be a main factor in deciding the new leader of the Varden. They recommended Nasuada, Ajihad's daughter, to be the new leader. Nasuada was selected because the Council thought she would be easy to manipulate and control. The Council also tried to manipulate and control Eragon by requesting his fealty. Eragon agreed to give his fealty, but did not specify who or what he would give it to. Eragon and Nasuada conversed, and seeing an opportunity to upset and undermine the council, Eragon gave his fealty to Nasuada instead of the Varden or the Council. This move infuriated the Council, as they did not gain control over Eragon and realized Nasuada would not be easily controlled as well. Nasuada was strong willed and not easily manipulated, and she often overruled or discarded the advice the council gave her, as very as often threatening to dissolve it if it did not comply with her wishes.