Author: Alison Goodman
Series: Eon, #1
Published: August 31st 2010
Paperback, 531 pages
Buy: The Book Depository
I have a feeling I will be telling my grandchildren long stories about my struggles with this book. Eon (both the book and the character) did not make it easy for me to like them, oh no. Instead, I constantly had to battle my desire to abandon them in favor of something easier to read, or a more likable heroine at the very least.
Sometimes, when a book is extremely popular and well-loved by everyone in the known universe and possibly beyond, I dig in my heels and simply refuse to read it for no good reason. This was the case with Eon – it has been sitting on my shelf for ages*, and the more people talked about it, the more reluctant I was to read it. So I kept postponing it over and over again until it became just another book on my to-read list I stopped noticing altogether. It probably would have stayed there were it not for my friend Catie who Made Me Do It over at The Readventurer. The challenge was just the push I needed; this isn’t a book that should be missed.
However, to say that it wasn’t what I expected would be an understatement. I honestly thought it would be more juvenile and with everyone talking about Eona, I thought she would be a character to admire. Boy was I ever wrong.
Eona’s only way out of salt farms and abject poverty is to learn Dragon Magic and become the next Dragoneye apprentice, but girls aren’t allowed to even enter the selection, which is why she’s spent the last four years living as a boy. The only person who knows the truth is her Master and teacher, a former Dragoneye, and the secret could easily kill them both. When the sword ceremony doesn’t go as planned and Eon ends up in the middle of dangerous Imperial games and with powerful enemies to boot, the secret becomes much bigger, and the stakes much higher. Suddenly, destiny of an entire empire rests on Eon’s shoulders.
The double nature of Eon/Eona does not end with gender alone. He (and I’ll stick with he here because he was consistently male until the very end) is a character built on contradictions, so much so that it makes him hard to describe. His ability to live a double life, especially in spotlight where every wrong move means a certain death, speaks of great bravery and prowess. And yet, when his goals were accomplished (and then some), said bravery quickly turned into outright cowardice under pressure.
"I did not understand this idea of equality. There was rank even amongst slaves; it was the nature of men."
What saved this book for me (and what could save any book for me) is the extremely intricate worldbuilding. A gorgeous blend of Eastern cultures, Eon’s world is cruel but captivating, exhilarating and rich in detail. It can be a bit too overwhelming at times but I am very patient with worldbuilding which made Dragoneye Reborn a perfect read for me, at least in one very important way.
In truth, secondary characters were far more interesting than Eon himself. The enlightened, almost kind Emperor won me over quickly, as did the rest of his family, not to mention Lady Dela, a woman in a man’s body, and her faithful bodyguard, eunuch Ryko. Romance is sparse in Eon, but hints of a relationship between these two, however improbable it may seem, more than made up for it. Watching them dance around each other and their feelings for each other was sweet and strange and exhilarating and entirely unforgettable.
Based on the reviews I’ve read so far, Eona is a far better read than its predecessor, and I am very much looking forward to it. While I didn’t much care for the heroine herself, there are many characters whose fates I absolutely have to learn.
* Hah! See? I didn’t write “eons”, I am VERY mature.