Book Review: Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman
Once upon a time there was a land that was plagued by monsoons which would destroy crops. In their time of need, the people and their emperor turned to the twelve dragons and those who could commune with dragons, known as dragoneyes. This isn’t quite how Eon: Dragoneye Reborn by Alison Goodman begins, yet you get the gist. In the world of Eon the people are very tightly bound with the dragons. Every year a different dragon ascends to power and are at their most powerful. So for example, this could be the year of the dog dragon, so the dragoneye who has connected with the dog dragon would have an incredible surge of power. Every year, there are 12 boys who are chosen as candidates to become an apprentice dragoneye. Only one candidate is chosen. This is the year Eon enters candidacy for dragoneye.
Oh, and did I mention that Eon is actually a girl named Eona. And this, my friends, begins Goodman’s sweeping Asian-inspired fantasy novel Eon: Dragoneye Reborn. I inhaled this 536 page book in the course of two days. As intrigues unfolded, battles raged, and secrets were reveled, I held the book in almost a death grip, eyes glued to the page. I found myself literally gasping out loud, and saying OH MY GAWD, like Janice from Friends.
Dragoneye Reborn has what I consider to be the elements of an excellent fantasy novel.
A. Worldbuilding. For a fantasy novel to really WORK for me, I have to believe the world it is set in. It has to be plausible. Goodman weaves a magical world where I thought, sure people could enter the spiritual plane and communicate with dragons. That doesn’t seem too out of line. What put it above and beyond for me was how intricate the details were. There is so much going on in this world, from social hierarchy to religion to traditions to geography and regional differences. Rather than be overwhelmed by it, I embraced exactly how much time Goodman put into her world.
B. The Magic. If you are writing a magic based fantasy, well the magic better blow me away. GUYS GUYS GUYS, I want a spirit dragon of MY OWN. And the magic isn’t just something you are automatically an expert at. People need training in the magic, and ah, I loved seeing Eon train and learn about dragons. I mean, Hogwarts the palace is not. But there’s something that just attracts me when I see people get schooled in books.
C. The Political Intrigue. Oh yes, there’s nothing more awesome than a political intrigue moment for me. Backstabbing and plots and power grabs, SIGN ME UP. While Eon: Dragoneye Reborn isn’t quite on the level of the Queen’s Thief series, it’s got some doozies in it. For serious, we gots murders. And regicide. And mad grabs for the throne. And secret magic plots.
D. Gender politics. GUYS I LOVE WHEN FANTASY DIVES INTO GENDER! Yes, if you are a fan of Tamora Pierce and Alanna and all things awesome, you will like Eon! See, the most obvious is the cross-dressing Eona who takes on the role of a boy and suppresses her female self. Which we begin to think of characteristics that are generally considered gendered and get into the whole binaries thing, of male characteristics = strong, female characteristics = weak. And it is addressed and it is awesome and makes my brain gears just TURN TURN TURN. OH OH OH and there is a trans character, Lady Dela, who is called a Contraire meaning she has the physical body of a man but her spirit is female. And oh friends, Lady Dela plays a huge role and I have to hold my arm down otherwise I would pump my fist just thinking about her. Then THEN THEN there is Ryko. Ryko is what is known as a Shadow Man, meaning he is a eunuch. And I would read about Ryko and think about maleness. Do you need traditional male parts to have male characteristics? My conclusion: No. Also, I learned how eunuchs pee.
Then there is the pace. For the most part, Eon: Dragoneye Reborn is fast paced. The beginning instantly pulled me in with the whole dragoneye candidacy ceremony. I felt the middle dragged a bit. But the ending was KILLER.
In all, I felt Alison Goodman’s Eon: Dragoneye Reborn was a fantastic, action packed read about embracing your true self. Definitely recommended to fantasy fans.
Disclosure: Purchased copy.