I’ll be honest here, I judged this book by its cover. Which is stunning, by the way. Eon is also such a simply name, between that and the stunning artwork on the cover, I was intrigued. And I am certainly glad I was, because the story between covers is every bit as intriguing and exciting as the covers themselves.
Eon has been studying the ancient art of Dragon Magic for four years, hoping he’ll become apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune. But he also has a dark secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been living a dangerous lie for the chance to become a Dragoneye, the human link to an energy dragon’s power. It is forbidden for females to practise the Dragon Magic and, if discovered, Eon faces a terrible death. But after a brilliant sword ceremony, Eon is catapulted into the treacherous world of the Imperial court, where his desperate lie comes to light …
I am certainly no stranger to books about dragons (hmmm… maybe I’ll do a weekly feature on dragon books next month) or books wherein the protagonist disguises herself as a boy (personal favourite- The Song of the Lioness Quartet by Tamora Pierce), and yet despite that, this book still felt fresh and exciting. Eon (or Eona?) had everything you could want from a character, making her a solid, strong central figure around which the story oriented itself. Not only was Eon/Eona’s character and personal story fantastic, but the other central characters were also well flushed out and vivid. Rilla, Prince Kygo, Lady Dela and Lord Ido are all central to the plot, despite being secondary characters, and the depth of these characters is a testament to Goodman’s writing ability. Through Goodman’s masterful writing, the reader comes to care for or detest each character throughout the story.
One of my main problems with this book was that the pacing was a little slow for me. I found that it took eons for the adventure to pick up at times, making for a slightly bored reader at the down points. But, the book was 500+ pages, so it’s understandable that Eon took a little longer to reach new conflicts, plot points and plot twists. However, the action definitely picks up about halfway through the book after a pretty poignant and action filled sequence of events, which more than makes up for the lack-luster beginning of the book, and the dry bits in between. Another thing that can be said for the plot of this book- there were many times I was truly surprised at the turn of events, which truly impressed me. Too often, so-called “plot twists” are wholly predictable, so I enjoyed the unexpected nature of Goodman’s writing within Eon.
One last thing before I wrap this up- Eon is not only masterful in it’s writing, character development and world-building, it also has something that many YA books don’t feature- diversity. The mythology and magic system, as well as the representation of dragons, are not based upon European or Western magic systems and beliefs (as they typically are), but more so upon Eastern and Chinese magic systems and beliefs. This was both welcome and refreshing. Eon also featured a diverse cast of characters, such as Lady Jila, who is called a contraire in the story, which is a word used to describe a man who lives like a woman. Lady Jila has a man’s body but a female spirit; here, Goodman touches upon prevelant topics regarding LGBTQ2+ youth, allowing readers to learn about some difficulties an idividual who identifies as such may face, while also allowing some LGBTQ2+ readers to see themselves reflected in literature, which is fantastic. Furthermore, Eon had a central the focus on inequality in society (especially the disparities between the powers of men and women within the society). Women have no power and little agency in the story so Eon tries her best to hide her sex and even to snuff it out. Often, she regards her body as the enemy because it is female, and therefore not the most desired form. Goodman brings these issues to the forefront of the reader’s mind, and handles them gracefully.
Overall, I loved this book when I first read it years ago, and I still love it today. Eon truly has something for everyone – magic, romance, fascinating characters, and cultural, sexual and economic diversity. Sometimes, its good to judge a book by its cover.
Also, Eon’s sequel, Eona, is definitely worth a read! And has equally awesome cover art.