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.
“How brief and hidden were the moments of destiny.” – Alison Goodman, Eon: Dragoneye Reborn
At first this book reminded me of a happy mix between Mulan and Tamora Pierce’s Song of the Lioness Quartet, but once I actually got into the storyline I realized that it was so much more than that.
I do think one of the biggest strengths of this book is the depiction of gender roles and identity. Eona is thrust into the heart of this hierarchical society and her entire existence is hanging on the thread that she can’t be discovered. It’s playing a deadly game of politics and… The themes and situations that explored the transgendered characters, eunuchs, forced intimacy, and physical assaults definitely make me think that the novels will appeal to more mature readers in the genre.
There is no romance or love interest in this book and I think that definitely plays to it’s strengths as well. If Goodman had put it in there, it would have felt forced and just out of place with the rest of the story. There’s enough action, magic, self-discovery, and other quality themes that the reader gets to experience.
This book had some very frustrating moments, but they definitely helped move the story along for me. Throughout most of the book we see Eona sabotaging herself because she’s afraid of admitting the truth, and this drove me nuts. Not in a I’m-putting-this-book-down nuts, but a omg-what-is-wrong-with-you nuts. I think this aspect of the story might bug some people more than it did me – but I didn’t really let it get to me that much. I understood where the author was coming from and without having this addition to the story it wouldn’t have quite worked out the same.
“I found power in accepting the truth of who I am. It may not be a truth that others can accept, but I cannot live any other way. How would it be to live a lie every minute of your life.” – Alison Goodman, Eon: Dragoneye Reborn
The world of the Empire of the Celestial Dragons is a beautiful mix of Chinese mythology and astrology, Feng Shui, Tai Chi meditation as well as various other aspects of Eastern cultures. It is ceremonious, precise and measured. The whole time you’re enveloped in this world with so much grandeur and if you know anything about the culture you know how regal it all feels. I also really enjoyed the spin on the dragons being celestial beings, rather than physical fire-breathing ones. It plays into the astrological roots more and keeps the whole story from being too much of a mess.
This is one of those books that had been sitting on my shelf for about 3.5 years (physically) and I could never bring myself to sit down with it. Admittedly, I’m sure I picked it up because of the gorgeous cover – and after skimming the back – I absolutely loved the idea of the story and I was so excited to be thrown into this world that had so many great historical influences – but something kept me from committing. After reading Eon and Eona, I honestly couldn’t tell you why I hesitated. I finished both books in one sitting each. I felt like the story had a perfect conclusion and I wasn’t left dissatisfied in any way.