Eon: Dragoneye Reborn (also known as Eon: Rise of the Dragoneye and The Two Pearls of Wisdom) was written by Alison Goodman and published by Penguin in 2008. It is the first book in a duology, the second of which I will be reviewing on Friday. Goodman’s website can be found here.
“Twelve-year-old Eon has been in training for years. His intensive study of Dragon Magic, based on East Asian astrology, involves two kinds of skills: sword-work and magical aptitude. He and his master hope that he will be chosen as a Dragoneye—an apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune.
“But Eon has a dangerous secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been masquerading as a boy for the chance to become a Dragoneye. Females are forbidden to use Dragon Magic; if anyone discovers she has been hiding in plain sight, her death is assured.
“When Eon’s secret threatens to come to light, she and her allies are plunged into grave danger and a deadly struggle for the Imperial throne. Eon must find the strength and inner power to battle those who want to take her magic…and her life”
“Light shivered in the air above the carved gold rat. Slowly, a large claw slid into the reflection, pale blue scales glowing above five opal talons. The Rat Dragon was descending from his perch, his translucent body only solid and visible in the mirror as he passed by it. A reflection without an original…. A powerfully muscled foreleg came into view, the scales darkening into ocean blue as the underside of a broad chest and shoulder followed in the glass. Next, a beard, the white hair thick and tapered like a horse’s tail. And for a fleeting moment, beneath the coarse strands, I saw the dragon’s pearl—his source of wisdom and power—tucked under his chin and shining with blue iridescence. Then it was hidden by his flared muzzle, the delicate scales and fine horse nostrils accentuating the size of the fang that curved from his upper lip.”
Warnings: While not extremely violent or disturbing, Eon does contain eunuchs and discussion of eunuchs, two almost-rape scenes, drug abuse, and a character that some may see as controversial.
Recommended Age Range: 16+
What I Liked:
Eon’s setting is gorgeous, based off of Japanese and Chinese traditions and culture. The magic system, based off of the Chinese zodiac, is unique and beautiful to read. Eon/Eona’s struggle to fit into a society that accepts only men and the healthy (she is neither) is at times both heartbreaking and invigorating. Her development throughout the novel is excellent, if somewhat predictable. Goodman also disposes of the main villain in this book in a unique way. The ending, while not especially happy (there is, after all, a sequel to wrap it up), had fantastic punch.
What I Didn’t Like:
Eon’s actions during the novel are occasionally downright stupid. I’m sure Goodman planned it that way, but having the character do frustrating things made me frustrated. The stupidity of the actions highlights the confusion and stress of Eon as she struggles to keep her secret and stay alive, but at times it was hard to read.
The plot is a little predictable, especially for YA fantasy (but I didn’t know how the ending would turn out and I was pleasantly surprised).
As I mentioned in the Warnings section, there is a character that some may consider controversial. I myself didn’t feel that Goodman had to include the character in the way she did, as it would have worked just as well if certain aspects had not been revealed, but the character him/herself did fit into the setting that Goodman had set up.
Eon is a great fantasy, especially if you enjoy Japanese/Chinese culture. The main character, though annoying at times, shows growth as the plot moves along. While there are some elements that might disturb/upset some, I don’t feel as if they take away from the overall story; in fact, most of them add to the world building that Goodman has created.
Coming Up Next: Eona by Alison Goodman.