Eon: Dragoneye Reborn (Eon, #1) By Alison Goodman
Eona (Eon, #2) By Alison Goodman
Combined 4.5 out of 5 Stars. (Eon=4 and Eona=5)
SPOILER ALERT (this review spoils character development and some plot points but the true story line of the book is not touched on.)
Eon and Eona tell the story of a twelve-year-old boy, Eon who one of a group of boys who have been training for the honor of becoming the rat dragoneye. Dragoneyes are the living connection between the magical dragon spirits that are the energies of the directions and make up the advisory council that help protects the land and advise the emperor. Eon is different from the rest of his years group of dragoneye candidates in not only in being crippled but in the fact that Eon is in fact sixteen-year-old girl named Eon. Having trained for the last four years, the small crippled Eon is the ultimate underdog whose failure to keep his true nature a secret would end in swift death. At a dazzling and un-expected sword ceremony Eon gets chosen as the first Mirror Dragoneye in 500 years. As the stakes of her deception go up, Eon must quickly unlock the secrets of the Mirror Dragon while struggling with the treachery and power games of imperial court in her new very public position as co-ascendent leader of the dragoneye council.
I read this book after months of exposure to it in my frequent trips to browse Barns & Noble. After a year of reading the back cover when I had access to a really fantastic library I went for it.
Before I go in to the rest of the review I just want to state clearly that I very much like these books and thoroughly enjoyed reading them and read them very quickly. Now I will rip appart the parts I didn’t like.
Eon or Eona, is a very simple person wrapped up in a very complicated situation and never fully actualized gender issues. For almost all of Eon our title character refers to themselves as male, having been living male for the last four years on the treat of death has almost brainwashed him. Eon seems to have no internal gender identity separate from the way in which his is perceived, and when the secret is revealed and Eon starts to live as Eona there is absolutely no angst about being a girl just as there was none about ‘being male’ before. That while being really really frustrating was not even close to the only or most frustrating thing about Eon as a character. Eon does not think for himself. He is easily manipulated in the political games at court and later in the second book is manipulated by lust. Even in the moments where Eon(a) uses her power to help other and take control of the situation around her (s)he is almost more annoying in those moments of over the top self riotousness then (s)he was helpless. There was no point in this series where I could honestly say that I really liked Eon(a) as a person. (s)he is too flawed, too easily manipulated, and too ready to use there power against those who care for them when possessing the power.
This book did how ever have what is probably one of my favoriate cast of supporting characters in the form of Lady Dela (a women spirited man) a member of the imperial court and her guard Ryko. These two are adorable, honest, beautiful human beings and really in a lot of ways made this book for me. For all that Eon(a)s gender issues bug the crap out of me Dela has a fully realized gender identity that She does not shy away from. Ryko also explores the variability of gender in being a strong, honest, stalwart man while also being an eunuch in love with Dela.
For all my problems with the main character. I greatly enjoyed this book. The world that Alison Goodman creates clearly calls upon both ancient Japanese and Chinese traditions with added mythology, bug manages to be both very original and complete. After about the first hundred pages the plot becomes unpredictable and compelling. While Eon(a) is struggling making bad life choices, the world around her keeps turning and you can’t wait to see how it all ends.
Despite my numerous problems with this book I kind of loved it. I would highly recommend it to fans of fantasy, asian culture, and adventure.