Thursday, June 21, 2012
Eona by Alison Goodman
Release Date: April 19, 2011
Publisher: Penguin Group USA
Finally able to embrace her true identity, Eona has already won a massive personal victory. However, a major battle still rages for control of the empire. After slaughtering his own family, High Lord Sethon has seized the throne. Left unstopped, his relentless ambition would leave the whole country in ruins.
Although she is new to her powers, Eona is now the resistance's only hope. She must learn to harness the mysterious strength of her Mirror Dragon if Emperor Kygo is to claim back his kingdom. Yet knowledge comes at a price. Who can she trust, and how long can she resist the terrible truth of her ancestor's prophecy?
In the second book of the stunning Dragoneye duology, Eona's quest for self-discovery leads her on a perilous and devastating journey in which ties of love, loyalty and legend are shaken to the core.(courtesy of Goodreads)
If you love high fantasy, you must pick up Eon and Eona by Alison Goodman. Not only does it feature dragons and Asian-influenced culture, but it is chock full of action and emotion. Best of all, it is written by an author with a fabulous (and correctly spelled) name.
I enjoyed Eona, but unfortunately, I did not love it. Eona is 637 pages long. You know how some 600+ page novels fly by? Eona is not one of those. I read the first 215 pages of Eona and then put it down. I liked it, but it was so long that I was more interested in reading other books than in investing the time and energy into 400 more pages. A month later, I picked Eona back up and finished it. I read the book very quickly - not exactly skimming, but not reading every word either.
Other than the length, I don't have a good reason for my impatience with Eona. The book doesn't drag. Alison does an impressive job of inserting an action scene any time the plot even hints at becoming staid. These aren't just fights for the sake of fighting. Every scene in the book is carefully crafted to further the plot - ratcheting up conflict for later in the book until everything is resolved in one final, glorious burst of fireworks.
I can't decide whether I like Eona the girl. She reminds me very much of Katniss, in ways good and bad. She is powerful and capable of great violence. When she isn't in the throes of action, she is dithering and unsure. How should she handle the great responsibility upon her shoulders? Does she want power? Is her first loyalty to the dragons or to the emperor? Should she ally herself with Lord Ido or Kygo? In many ways Eona's indecisiveness makes her a more relateable character. I'm more likely to be friends with her than with Rose Hathaway, who always seems confident. But much of the time, I wanted to shake Eona by the shoulders and shout "Man up, girl!"
Eona falls right into the YA stereotypical romance: a love triangle. It is unusual enough that people who normally hate love triangles might not have a problem with it. Kygo and Eona are the obvious choice for a couple. As Emperor and Mirror Dragoneye, they are relatively equal. They have similar intellects and quickly build a relationship of mutual respect and trust. Well, maybe not trust. Each holds back part of themselves from the other and we always wonder whether Eona likes Kygo for himself or his power - and vice versa. Lord Ido is a much less tasteful choice. He came close to raping Eona in Eon and then murdered all the other dragoneyes. Not exactly an upstanding citizen. But they are drawn to each other. Eona has much to learn from Lord Ido and he is tied to her through her healing powers. The chemistry between the two is explosive. They could benefit well from each other.
I liked the multiple layers of Eona's plot. Not only must they restore Kygo to his rightful position as Emperor, but Eona must decide how to come to terms with her dragoneye power and whether she is best suited for Lord Ido or Kygo. The pass to Emperorship is fraught with physical dangers. Eona's path to love is fraught with moral dangers. No where is the answer clear. None of the characters are blameless or disinterested. It made for a thought provoking novel.
If Eona was 200 pages shorter, I would have adored the book. The length dampened my enthusiasm for the book and made me impatient. It's unfortunate, because the plot and characters are well written, even if Eona did annoy me at times. The novel does include a love triangle, but I thought it was done very well. Eon and Eona may be long, but I still think it is worth reading for any fantasy lover.