Author: Alison Goodman
Genre: Fantasy, Historical, Young Adult
Publisher: Viking Juvenile
Publication Date: April 2011
Hardcover: 637 Pages
Eon has been revealed as Eona, the first female Dragoneye in hundreds of years. Along with fellow rebels Ryko and Lady Dela, she is on the run from High Lord Sethon’s army. The renegades are on a quest for the black folio, stolen by the drug-riddled Dillon; they must also find Kygo, the young Pearl Emperor, who needs Eona’s power and the black folio if he is to wrest back his throne from the selfstyled “Emperor” Sethon. Through it all, Eona must come to terms with her new Dragoneye identity and power – and learn to bear the anguish of the ten dragons whose Dragoneyes were murdered. As they focus their power through her, she becomes a dangerous conduit for their plans. . . .
Eona, with its pulse-pounding drama and romance, its unforgettable fight scenes, and its surprises, is the conclusion to an epic only Alison Goodman could create.
Stand alone or series: Book 2 of the Dragoneye duology
How did I get this book: ARC from the Publisher
Why did I read this book: I loved Eon, and have been on tenterhooks waiting for the second half of this epic duology from Alison Goodman. I actually did a little banana dance when I got this (enormous) ARC in the mail.
For the first time in 500 years, the Mirror Dragon has returned, selecting young, lame Eon as dragoneye. Except “Eon” is actually Eona – a girl who, under the instruction of her conniving master, has hidden her gender. When Lord Sethon, brother to the Emperor, and Lord Ido, the ascendant rat dragoneye lord, stage a violent coup that results in the slaughter of all the remaining dragoneyes and the Imperial family, Eona’s duplicity and her true nature as a woman is revealed. For the first time in her life, Eona must come to grips with her identity as not only a woman, but as one of three remaining dragoneyes. Even though she has little control of her formidable power, everyone wants to control Eona – including the rightful emperor, Kygo. Eona quickly learns that with great power comes great responsibility. Without anyone to teach her how to channel her power and avoid the grief and rage of the now lordless remaining ten dragons, Eona is forced to turn to a bitter enemy, Lord Ido, to help harness her power for the greater good – but at what terrible personal cost? And even though she intends on using her dragon for good, morality quickly becomes blurred in an increasingly dangerous game of power and loyalty.
When Eon was released a few years back, I was thrilled – not only does this duology play with one of my favorite YA fantasy tropes (the warrior girl masquerading as a boy), but it takes place in a fantastical version of imperial China (as opposed to, you know, western Europe). More than that, Eon introduced a system of dragons and their magical pearls, a life force energy called Hua, and the balance of order and chaos that a warrior and dragoneye must learn to master to bring harmony to the land.[1. This sounds a lot like Star Wars with Jedi and the Force and all that, doesn’t it? But Eon & Eona have dragons. Boom.] In Eona, all of this masterful worldbuilding is back, with even more intricacy and depth. The tantalizing pearls (pardon the lame pun) laid out in Eon come to fruition here in this concluding volume, with the mystery of Eona’s red folio and Ido’s black folio gradually revealing the truth of the dragoneye lords. Although from a pacing perspective it takes a bit too long for Eona to reach the devastating revelation that precedes the novel’s final climactic act, once that bomb is dropped, it is so very worth it.[2. I know this sounds rather vague, but I don’t want to spoil the development! Suffice to say that nothing is what it seems.]
As far as characters go, Eona as our heroine has a lot of conflicted ethical and personal decisions in this second book. First, she must become accustomed to being a woman – a character development I thought could have used a little more time and focus, because for all that Eona is just trying to settle into her public image as female, she seems to slip into the role rather easily for one that has had to hide her gender (under pain of death, or at least certain exploitation) for so long. The same could be said for her healed hip, for that matter – she grows accustomed to her lack of handicap rather easily and quickly, too. This aside, I loved that Ms. Goodman holds no punches in this book when it comes to her heroine’s power and emotions, and Eona is forced time and time again into using her dragoneye abilities. Though she can always justify her displays of power to be for the greater good, there’s also a darker force – namely, power-hunger – at work. Though Eona tries to blame her ancestress for certain urges she feels, the beckon of godlike power is not something anyone can turn away from, and I appreciated that this conflict is first and foremost in this book. Similarly, Eona’s ancestors’ troubled history is a fascinating development that shapes her actions, especially in her relationships with both her emperor and the problematic draw to Ido. Although there was some verging on the cusp of ridiculousness with the tropes (i.e. girl that doesn’t realize she’s beautiful and commands the attraction of two very different men), the laughability factor is neatly averted because Eona’s relationships with the two men in her life hold ground in something much darker and more pragmatic than just “they are so hawt and think I’m hawt and we are SOOOO made for each other” etc, etc. I loved the trust issues that Eona has with Kygo, and how neither knows where exactly they stand with the other, despite mutual attraction. The relationship with Ido is similarly complex, and considering their history, this makes sense. The Lady Dragoneye’s relationship with other characters who have felt betrayed by her deception in hiding her true female gender, is also well-handled (although I felt that certain characters, like Dela, went far too abruptly from complete distrust to friendship). As in the first book, one of my favorite characters was the Contraire, Lady Dela – an Easterner that is actually male in body, but female in spirit and always referred to as female throughout the book. Especially in a YA book, this examination of gender is fascinating, and something very different from the norm.
Although Eona takes a while to get truly going and build momentum (and this is a hefty book at nearly 700 pages, which in all honestly could have been slimmed down), overall, this is a fantastic, fitting conclusion to Eona’s adventure. If you haven’t read this duology yet, what are you waiting for? Absolutely recommended.
Notable Quotes/Parts: From Chapter 1:
The dragons were crying. I stared across the choppy, gray sea and concentrated on the
soft sound within me. For three daybreaks, ever since we had fled the conquered palace, I had stood on this same rock and felt the keening of the ten bereft dragons. Usually it was only a faint wail beneath the golden song of my own Mirror Dragon. This morning it was stronger. Harsher.
Perhaps the ten spirit beasts had rallied from their grief and returned to the Circle of Twelve. I took a deep breath and eased into the unnerving sensation of mind-sight. The sea before me blurred into surging silver as my focus moved beyond the earthly plane, into the pulsing colors of the parallel energy world.
Above me, only two of the twelve dragons were in their celestial domains: Lord Ido’s blue Rat Dragon in the north-northwest, the beast’s massive body arched in pain, and my own red dragon in the east. The Mirror Dragon. The queen. The other ten dragons had still not returned from wherever spirit beasts fled to
The Mirror Dragon turned her huge head toward me, the gold pearl under her chin glowing against her crimson scales. Tentatively, I formed our shared name in my mind—Eona—and called her power. Her answer was immediate: a rush of golden energy that cascaded through my body. I rode the rising joy, reveling in the union. My sight split between earth and heaven: around me were rocks and sea and sky, and at the same time, through her great dragon eyes, the beach surged below in timeless rhythms of growth and decay. Silvery pinpoints of Hua—the energy of life—were scurrying, swimming, burrowing across a swirling rainbow landscape. Deep within me, a sweet greeting unfurled—the wordless touch of her dragon spirit against mine—leaving the warm spice of cinnamon on my tongue.
Suddenly, the rich taste soured. We both sensed a wall of wild energy at the same time, a rushing, shrieking force that was coming straight for us. Never before had we felt such driven pain. Crushing pressure punched through our golden bond and loosened my earthly grip. I staggered across uneven rock that seemed to fall away from me. The Mirror Dragon screamed, rearing to meet the boiling wave of need. I could feel no ground, no wind, no earthly plane. There was only the whirling, savage clash of energies.
You can read the full excerpt online HERE.
Additional Thoughts: Book 1 in the duology, Eon: Dragoneye Reborn is where you must start if you are considering this series. Here’s the breakdown:
In a world of lies, the truth can be deadly …
Under the harsh regime of an ambitious master, Eon is training to become a Dragoneye – a powerful Lord able to command wind and water to protect the land. But Eon also harbours a desperate secret – he is in fact a young woman living a dangerous masquerade that, if discovered, will mean certain death.
Brought to the attention of the Emperor himself and summoned to the opulent court, Eon is thrust into the heart of a lethal struggle for the Imperial throne. In this new, treacherous world of hidden identities and uneasy alliances, Eon comes face-to-face with a vicious enemy who covets the young Dragoneye’s astounding power, and will stop at nothing to make it his own.
Eon is based on the ancient lores of Chinese astrology and Feng Shui. It is a thrilling, timeless novel of deadly politics, sexual intrigue and dazzling swordplay set in a brilliantly envisioned world …
Rating: 8 – Excellent
Reading Next: Rotters by Daniel Krauss
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