Thursday, June 14, 2012

Yay for YA: Eona

My summer of epic fantasy novels continues with a review of Eona, by Alison Goodman.  It is the sequel to Eon (reviewed two weeks ago); as always, I try to avoid spoilers, but they are kind of hard to swerve around when discussing stories that rely heavily on a previous book's events.

Checkouts: Not owned by the library
Typical reader: Teens and young adults who enjoyed the previous book
Source: Checked out from my local library

Synopsis: Lady Eona, the Dragoneye bound to the long-lost, female Mirror Dragon, has cast aside her masquerade - at a very tumultuous time.  She and her companions join in the struggle to place the rightful emperor on his throne.  As with Eon, there's plenty of intrigue, action, magic, and twists ... but also romance, and very complex relationships.

My Goodreads rating: 4 stars

Eon was an epic tome, but it's dwarfed by its sequel.  Eona in hardcover tips the scales with 637 pages.  And not one of those 637 pages is dull.  There is so much action, and there are so many twists and turns, that looking back, it's almost hard to believe that it all worked in one book.

This is a strong second half to Ms. Goodman's duology.  The powerful writing remains consistent.  The world-building and lore wow me.  And the characters are complex but portrayed well for the most part.  I feel like I need to reread parts of it to see if one particular character did something out of left field, or if I just missed the foreshadowing - but I have a ton of books I'd like to get through this season, and I already returned the tome to the library.

Enter the vague spoilers.

Lady Dela is still one of my favorite characters.  And her feelings toward Ryko, the eunuch soldier who has been her bodyguard for years, are just so "Awwww."  There's tension and heartache, and honor gets in the way, but they make an endearing, yet awkward, couple.

That's not so much the case with the relationship triangle between Lady Eona, the treacherous Lord Ido, the Rat Dragoneye, and the dethroned Emperor Kygo.  It's not a love triangle, let me make that clear.  There's hate, distrust, deception, manipulation, and plenty of other things along those lines.  I'm sure there are some who could find the nauseatingly ubiquitous love triangle that teen literature seems to need these days, but honestly, I don't think Eona and Ido's slap-slap-kiss goes beyond the hunger for power.

This book is certainly one for older teens (or young adults).  As with its predecessor, it touches on some mature subjects, and handles them well overall.  There's torture, both on- and off-"screen".  At one point, Lady Eona and a companion dress as Blossom Women to get into the palace; these are akin to Japanese geisha.  Also, there is a scene of uncomfortable sensuality in the name of power.

Power is a huge theme in this book, as is the morality of using power.  It goes beyond Spiderman's "with great power comes great responsibility," or using the Star Wars' force for good or evil.  Lady Eona has to do some ample soul-searching and boundary-testing in this epic tale.

End spoilers.

I touched on the research that must have gone into these books in my review of Eon.  Let me say that I really appreciate how much work Ms. Goodman put into these books.  If you're interested, she has a bit about her research as well as a bibliography on her web site.  Many kudos!

1 comment:

  1. Glad you liked this - sounds like a little more than me. I did think it was a love triangle, although I agree that it's not normal in any way. I liked the strong theme about power.