Welcome to my blog. I often think I was born with a book in my hand. I have always enjoyed reading, but more importantly, talking about books. This blog is partially about reviews, but is really a forum to talk about what I'm reading, and express all of the thoughts and feelings that there simply isn't room for in a professional review. I look forward to hearing your thoughts on your favourite books as you follow my reading journey.

Monday, July 11, 2011

Eon: Dragoneye Reborn & Eona: The Last Dragoneye: YA Dragon Fantasy

In the first book of this epic duology, readers are introduced to Eon- a physically handicapped twelve-year-old boy, who has been training most of his life to become a Dragoneye- an apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons that maintain balance and harmony in the kingdom. But Eon has a secret- he is actually Eona- a sixteen-year-old girl, who must never be exposed. The practice of dragon magic is forbidden in this kingdom, and she will face a terrible death if she's found out.

After the sword ceremony, Eon's affinity with the dragons pulls him into the trecherous world of the imperial court where he will have to navigate the politics of the court, keep his true identity hidden, and ultimately choose sides in the battle that is soon to come.

Eona picks up shortly after the end of the first book. The powerful and dangerous Lord Sethon has claimed the emperor's throne, killing the remaining heirs, dividing the kingdom and pulling it into battle. The true heir Lord Kygo lives hidden in safety, but if the young Pearl Emperor is to claim his rightful throne, he will need Eona's power. The only trouble is, she is untrained and her magic is wild, posing a threat to those around her. To learn its proper use, she will need the help of the traitorous Lord Ido. But can he be trusted long enough to give her what he needs? Romance and adventure blend in this lip-biting conclusion to the duology.

I absolutely LOVED this duology. It's quite a refreshing change to read something that begins and ends in two books, and it could easily have been a single epic novel. The writing is excellent, the story is complex, and in a crowded field of YA fantasy, they stand out as something truly special.

The setting is a time hundreds of years ago in a land that is a combination of Ancient China and Japan, and many aspects of these ancient cultures are drawn upon to create this story. Dragons are common symbols in Asian culture, and you can read more about her research and what the energy dragons are drawn from on her website www.alisongoodman.com.au.  The world is vividly drawn and completely engrossing, and it doesn't take long before you get swept away by it.

Alsion Goodman's characters are also incredible. They are complex, complicated, and they all make mistakes. Their relationship to one another and to the court is far from simple, and none are free to simply act upon their will. Eon, who has lived as a crippled boy most of her life is adjusting to being female, and is unsure how to act. She knows she has feelings for Kygo, and that he has for her, but again, it isn't that simple. He needs her power to unseat Sethon and take his place as ruler, and she worries that he can't separate the two. Lady Dela is a twin-soul- both woman and man, who lives as a female but is not accepted by the court, and Ryko is one of Lord Kygo's men, in love with Lady Dela but afraid that he has nothing to offer.

And then there is Ido. A villain to the core it would seem, but what if he's not? There's always something in the back of your mind shouting to Eona not to trust him, but then Goodman manages to create sympathy for him and make you wonder if redemption is possible. Eona is physically drawn to him, and an interesting love triangle forms, framed by a similar triangle 500 years prior with Eona's ancestor.

There is political intrigue, action, romance and many twists and turns to these novels, and they reminded me of Megan Whelan Turner's The Queen's Thief series in many aspects. There is a great deal of moral and political conflict, and you'll be biting your nails as you wait to see where Goodman is taking you.

They aren't easy to read, but fans of Kristen Cashore and Tamora Pierce will absolutely want to add these to their shelves and they won't be disappointed.

Highly recommended for 12 and up.