Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman
December 26, 2008; Viking Children's Books
Eon has been studying the ancient art of Dragon Magic for four years, hoping he'll be able to apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune. But he also has a dark secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been living a dangerous lie for the chance to become a Dragon-eye, the human link to an energy dragon's power. It is forbidden for females to practice the Dragon Magic and, if discovered, Eon faces a terrible death. After a dazzling sword ceremony, Eon's affinity with the twelve dragons catapults him into the treacherous world of the Imperial court, where he makes a powerful enemy, Lord Ido. As tension builds and Eon's desperate lie comes to light, readers won't be able to stop turning the pages...(courtesy of Goodreads)
As someone who is fascinated by Asian culture, history, and myths, Eon was a fabulous read. It draws upon Chinese and Japanese legends to create a fantasy world. It was so realistic that I often thought of it as historical fiction, forgetting that dragons and dragoneyes aren't real.
Eon is a 12 year old boy who has been training for the past few years to become a dragon eye, one of twelve men who connect and control the energy of the spirit dragons. Eon is unusual in that he can see all of the dragons. Usually trainees struggle to see anything. But Eon lags behind the other boys in fighting skill, because he is lame. That is enough of a handicap, but what only Eon's master knows is the Eon is really Eona, a 16 year old girl. It is unheard of for a girl to be a dragoneye and would be considered a crime punishable by death.
Eon is action packed. Alison (awesome name by the way - and even spelled right!) does a fabulous job pacing the book so that it flows perfectly. Big, surprising action scenes are interspersed throughout the novel. The action scenes aren't just thrown in there - they all move the plot along. In between the action, the book sets up a complex world of court politics where the line between friends and enemies sometimes is very clear and sometimes is not at all clear. The prose is complex and somewhat wordy, but there were only a few times where I felt things started to drag. Mostly the plot carries the detailed writing well.
Eona was a great character. Brave and determined yet also frightened and unsure. She had to learn to rely upon herself over the course of the book. The side characters were also fabulous. I loved Lady Dela, a lady's maid who is actually a man. She was wonderful at introducing Eona into the court world and also at protecting her despite the costs. Eona's Master was also an intriguing character. He came off as cruel and insensitive at first, but I felt I understood him better as the book went on.
Much of this book is about exploring what it means to be female versus male. Specifically whether being female is a good or bad thing - relevant in Asian traditions where females are devalued. Much of the book's themes and conclusions were predictable. Eona wasn't too bright for almost the entire book. It's my greatest criticism of the book and kept me from loving it as much as many others. However, the path it traveled to get toward the expected ending was not at all predicable. The story ends at a shocking point and sends the reader running to grab the sequel.
If you are at all interested in Asian culture, you must read Eon. If you like fantasy, you must read Eon. If you love Asian food, you must read Eon.