Sunday, May 27, 2012

Yay for YA: Eon: Dragoneye Reborn

As a birthday present from the birthday girl to you, I'm going to tell you about a great book that I just finished.  It's Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman.

Checkouts: Not owned by the library
Typical reader: Teens that love fantasy
Source: Checked out from my local library

Synopsis: Eon, a Dragoneye hopeful in the Year of the Rat, has a dark secret: he's a 16-year-old girl, disguised as a 12-year-old boy.  If discovered, she and probably even her master could face horrible deaths for the ruse.  In an unanticipated turn of events (at least for those in the story), Eon becomes the Dragoneye not of the Rat Dragon, but of the long-lost Mirror Dragon.  Mystery, intrigue and action are found in abundance in this thrilling, epic tome.

My Goodreads rating: 5 stars

When I say that this is an epic tome, I mean it.  The hardcover is 531 pages.  You're not going to hand this to a reluctant reader.  But if you have a patron that loves fantasy, especially those with mythological influences or girls disguised as boys, this is a good pick.

Ms. Goodman has built an excellent, interesting world in Eon.  There are plenty of influences from Chinese and Japanese cultures, from the mythology and imperial system, to gender roles and writing history.  I feel the need to make a special mention of that last one, because it figures very neatly into a major plot point.  It's an obscure enough detail, at least for a Westerner, that I think most readers won't pick up on the subtle hint right away.  As for me, I was tense with anticipation until my suspicions were confirmed 400 pages in.

I really became attached to some of the characters in this novel, which is more evidence of good writing.  In particular, I was quite drawn to Lady Dela, the foreign Contraire in court who befriends the protagonist, Lord Eon.  A Contraire is a man living as a woman; in modern terms, Lady Dela is a male-to-female transsexual.  She is one of the most likable, interesting, well-rounded characters in the book, and her identity is well-handled.  I'm honestly surprised that the book did not win a Lambda Award for the excellent portrayal of Lady Dela.

Another subject this novel handled well, in my opinion, is steroid use.  In trying to be more manly, among other reasons, Lord Eon experiments with the potentially dangerous Sun Drug, which is used mostly by eunuchs to maintain their masculine features and strength.  It can have bad side effects, though ... including one that specifically affects Lord Eon as a Dragoneye.  The topic is not something for the immature, which certainly puts this book solidly in young adult literature.

If you're looking for a fantasy novel packed with plenty of intrigue, backstabbing, plots, sword-fighting, and strong female characters, this is an excellent choice.

A friend on Facebook recently told me that he doesn't respond to my posts directly on my blog because he's intimidated, and feels like it's a sacred institution. Please feel free to comment here! Really, I don't bite, and I appreciate getting feedback. Plus, looking like I actually have a readership would be nice.


  1. That does sound like a very interesting story, with a rather distinctive setting. It's refreshing to see such creativity in any novel--young adult, or otherwise.

    As for the part after the line break, I know exactly what you mean. For some reason, people seem much more likely to comment on my blog's Facebook page instead of the posts themselves....

    1. The uniqueness of this novel really won me over. I think you'd probably enjoy it. Can't wait to check out the sequel myself.

      I can always count on you, dear, for commenting. :)

  2. I'm glad to read your review of this book. I've been circling it for a few months now, usually setting it aside for other books that come my way via patron suggestions. I'll have to add this to my more immediate 'to read' list and maybe get Ian to read it, too. Do you think it's compelling for adult fans of high fantasy?

    1. I'd been contemplating it for a while before I finally checked it out, too. It's definitely worthwhile for adult fans. If you liked Tamora Pierce's "Song of the Lioness" quartet, this is a good choice in a similar vein and higher reading level.