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Monday, June 3, 2013

June 2013 Book Review of the Month: Eon

Eon

By Alison Goodman
~Book Review~


*Minor Spoilers Alert* 

YOU KNOW that online mythology quiz, the one where they ask you: "If you could be any mythological creature, which one would you be?"?

Dragon. Hands down. Every time. Not original? I don’t care. One time I might have said “unicorn,” just to be different…and I felt guilt well up every time I looked at the dragon icon’s face.

Just kidding.

Anyways, Chinese dragons have to be some of the coolest depictions of dragons around. Mainstream culture usually depicts them as wise, benevolent creatures with long flowing beards, not your gold-hoarding Smaug type. So I was very excited to read about Alison Goodman’s take on the celestial zodiac as “spirit” dragons who renew the earth by choosing a new apprentice every rotating cycle. These twelve dragons then form the Dragoneye Council, who have power on par with the Emperor himself. However, the greed of one man will endanger the Rat Dragon’s choice, and thus the future of the empire itself.

After reading that these dragons are named after the twelve Chinese zodiac, you may ask: Wait. So if there’s a Tiger Dragon and a Horse Dragon, then does that mean there’s a…Dragon Dragon? Goodman avoids this redundancy trap by referring to this particularly elusive one as the “Mirror Dragon,” who has not been seen for some time. And that’s where our heroine comes in.

Goodman is a master at strong characterization. I immediately felt sympathetic for “Eon,” also known as “Eona,” a sixteen-year-old girl disguised as a boy, who fights for the chance to become a Dragoneye apprentice. She is an interesting mix. Although innocent enough to be blindsided by the political life’s darker intentions, she also carries a hunger for power, something the greedy Rat Dragoneye is quick to manipulate. She comes off as endearing despite her flaws; you know she’s making the wrong choices, yet at the same time, you understand why she’s making them. Also memorable is Lady Dela, the first Two Spirited character I’ve ever come across in YA fantasy, and Ryko, one of the “Moon Shadow” warriors, who are castrated to ensure they will not have children. Now that’s one of the most star-crossed romances I’ve ever encountered. Goodman breathes such vivid life into this supporting couple that some readers will find them more appealing than Eona. The villainous Lord Ido is another scene-stealer, and I’m hoping for more motivation behind his quest for power.

While the world and characters are easy to lose oneself in, the plot and pacing lag farther behind. The story’s build-up is slow, which isn’t necessarily a bad thing, but it seems like more action was needed to keep the momentum surging forward. Action doesn’t have to be a fight, but it seemed like there was a lot of info-dumping that could have been conveyed in more plot-advancing ways. There is one critical problem between Eona and her dragon that the reader will know how to fix a mile away, but it takes Eona a bit longer to connect the dots.

Despite the shuffling pace, the end is well worth the wait. I found the interwoven Eastern philosophies to be refreshing, the world-building complex and thoughtful, and the supporting characters incredibly well-realized. I particularly liked how Goodman used the different stances of fighting. Highly recommended to have Book II: Eona on hand. You'll just have to find out what happens next! 

Recommended for fans of Julie Kagawa and Kristin Cashore.
July Book Review: Darkfever by Karen Marie Moning.

2 comments:

  1. I loved this book, but i do agree it took somewhat of a long time to get started. Guinevere just finished book Eon and Eona this week,I finished them a while back and i thought the world of them!

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  2. Haha, I just saw Guinevere's review of Eon/Eona! I know what you mean about not being able to stop reading this series--it was wildly addicting, even at the slow parts, and I liked that Eona really struggled to control her desire for power (you don't often see YA authors take that chance with their main characters). Love the new blog layout, by the way!

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