by Alison Goodman
Hardcover, 531 pages
Published December 26th 2008 by Viking Juvenile
Also Known As: Two Pearls of Wisdom, Eon: Rise of the Dragoneye, and Eon (All the same book just published with different publishers)
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..
This is mostly non-spoiler-ish. I am not sharing the *gasping* surprises.
This book is a big mouthful. It's loaded with pages and intricate politics, not to mention a circle of 12 Dragoneyes who wield dragon power based on Hua.
I enjoyed the intricate detail... although, when the speed picked up so I lost a phrase or word, I had trouble stopping to go back and pick it up. And the author doesn't insult her readers by repeating herself, either. I was glad that I paid attention to the first few scenes because none are wasted.
I have no experience with Oriental culture to know how close this is to any real beliefs. The energy flow of Hua felt very real. The gardens with raked sands directed energy to the library. Or the rooms were sparse so as not to block the Hua with clutter. And Eon was born being able to see and sense so much of the energy flow. She can see the dragons, the real dragons that are invisible to most people shimmer into unclear view for her.
I love the dragons. They are so different and impersonal with their own agendas, basically, for the country. They are different from any other dragons in literature - so very, very Oriental - and different from each other - unique. I'm not sure about the emperor's being actual descendants with dragon blood in their veins... everything about this book was so practical that I wanted to accept this at face value, and it's a little hard to imagine how.
Eon/Eona - what a character! If I had one complaint about this book, it is that I didn't climb more into her skin. The story is from her point of view, as she trains to be chosen as the next apprentice. So much is at stake... I wanted her to be chosen so badly, and yet I cringed, too, because... even before the choosing ceremony...
Ido's character is revealed. He will be training the new apprentice as Ascendant. And he is BAD!! He rivals the most evil, ruthless bad guy in history or fiction or anything.... BAD! It doesn't help that Eon gets a glimpse of his Hua... how his heart of compassion is shrunk to nearly non-existent.
But I was talking about Eon... Eona. Lord Eon. Cripple brought up from horrible servitude into sudden wealth and power. Numbed by too-much-too-soon along with dump-loads of responsibility. She has to carry the hope of the emperor on her lying, crippled shoulders, and the task is absolutely impossible.
To make it worse, she can't find her dragon. She misplaces her dragon. Gone. In fact, anything she could get help from is knocked out from under her. She doesn't have time to examine how she feels about anything. There is no time. Everything tumbles at her, too, too fast.
As gripping as this was, I missed getting to know her better. I am still waiting for her to accept herself so she can respond to others around her.
She has an amazingly strong group of allies. Her master... I didn't like him, but I have to grudgingly admit that he was fighting for the best cause. The emperor was not very likable, either. Ha! He was frightening with his fast-paced political moves despite his poor health. The Prince Heir is a tautly restrained bundle of promise. I think there is much more to him in the next book and I can't wait to see it! He brings out the most emotions in Eon, but he might be bitter after their final conversation.
Lady Dela... she is almost the mirror of the entire story, she is so pivotal. And she is really a he... which reflects how difficult it is to choose which pronoun to refer to Eon in. The two of them are odd contradictions of each other. Lady Dela is a contraire... a man dressing as a woman and accepted as a woman by the court. She grasps more of the court intricacies than anyone, since she is from "out of town" and yet accepted into the harem, the women's inner sanctum in the huge palace. Every so often, she displays manly qualities, admitting her roots. While Eon, on the other hand, is a girl attempting to smother her femininity so she is not killed for becoming a Dragoneye. There is trust betrayed between these two as secrets are not shared fast enough, and yet they need each other to survive.
I question how Lady Dela was so high within the court politics that she could be assigned to Lord Eon as adviser about the court. This question led me to wonder at the size of the court... because it feels massive, and yet we only see the essential characters. Admittedly, the book is long enough as it is, but who is making all the background noise and why Lady Dela?!
Ryko is one of those characters who I assumed was just passing through... but no. Everyone is essential in this complicated story.
And no one is safe. Heads roll... literally. The past whispers into the present. Ido has too much real power and Eon...
She doesn't give up. She's had so many opportunities to give up, but she doesn't.
Speaking of *gasping* surprises that I am not sharing... that moment near the end when it all explodes? One of the greatest climatic moments I have ever read. Seriously... wow. I danced around the house after reading that (waking everyone up for school too early and happily not caring a bit.)
No question, I'm reading Eona as fast as I can get my mitts on it. I may have read 531 pages, but I don't know how it ends, yet!!
About the Author:
Alison is the author of EON and EONA, a New York Times Bestselling fantasy duology which has sold into seventeen countries and been translated into ten languages. EON was short-listed for Victorian, NSW, and WA Premier’s Literary awards, and won the 2008 Aurealis Award for Best Fantasy Novel. It was also listed as an American Library Association Best Young Adult Book (2010), a James Tiptree Jr. Honour book, and a CBCA Notable Book.
Alison’s first novel, Singing the Dogstar Blues, won the 1998 Aurealis Award for Best Young Adult Novel, and was also listed as an American Library Association Best Book (2004) and CBCA Notable Book. Her second novel, a crime thriller titled Killing the Rabbit, was published in the USA and shortlisted for the 2007 Davitt Award.
Alison was a D.J. O’Hearn Memorial Fellow at the University of Melbourne and holds a Master of Arts. She lives in Australia with her husband and their Machiavellian Jack Russell Terrier, and is currently working on a new supernatural series.
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Eon was the book selection on Calico Reaction's book club: Theme Park. Catch more great reviews of Eon on her blog!
There's an interesting discussion going on about the gender thing and the disability thing, if you're interested in joining!
Personally, I felt that Lady Dela described exactly what the author was intending when she told Eon why she chose to dress like a woman. She was being true to herself. She accepted herself and that was the outward expression of that, even though it brought on hate and beatings.
This was huge b/c at the time, Eona was NOT being true to herself. She was choosing to do the opposite, and the lie was hurting herself and her dragon. The similarity of their appearances (although opposite) highlighted the different results - peace vs. conflict.
As for the healing... regardless of how much it is overused in fiction in general, this is not a book about a cripple managing in whatever circumstances she finds herself. (Like Wheels.) This is a story where the hip injury is a picture of how Eona is oppressed by the system of what sort of candidate is worthy to become an apprentice to the dragon. When she accepts herself and finds inner healing, the outer injury is also healed.