I read these two books and really enjoyed them. There’s a bit more … strategy-type, intrigue-y political stuff in the plot than is strictly to my liking but I still enjoyed the books.
Eon has trained for several years to try out for a position of dragoneye’s apprentice with one of the twelve dragons of fortune. Only boys are allowed to try out, on their twelfth birthday (Secretly, Eon is sixteen, and a girl). Most have been training for several years. Eon is an underdog, since he has a lame leg. During tryouts, another is chosen to be the dragoneye’s apprentice, but a second dragon appears at the tryouts; the mirror dragon, who hasn’t been seen in 500 years. This one chooses Eon, who must now navigate the royal court and those who would use his power as their own. Since the mirror dragon hasn’t been around for 500 years, Eon isn’t just the dragoneye apprentice: he is the dragoneye.
I liked Goodman‘s weaving of Chinese astrology into the fantasy world she creates. It’s interesting and feels very multi-layered, and I wanted to learn more about it. I also liked Eon. Sometimes the whole underdog, oppressed woman theme can be poorly done and that is exhausting, but Goodman did a better-than-average job. It wasn’t annoying, and I sympathized with Eon.
The sequel, Eona, was also good but quite a different kettle of fish. There was still all the political intrigue stuff, which played a bigger role in this book and which I found a bit more annoying (though I am sure that readers who enjoy this kind of thing wouldn’t find it so; it is well done and kept me reading at a furious pace).
Lord Ido, a power-hungry dragoneye, has killed all of the other dragoneyes and the current Emperor, as well as the Emperor’s youngest son. The Emperor’s older son, rightful inheritor of the throne, Kygo, has fled and is believed to be alive. Eona and Ido are the only surviving dragoneyes, and Ion has been captured by Sethon – Kygo’s half brother, who has claimed the throne in Kygo’s absence. But with all of the other dragoneyes dead, and their dragons mourning for them, Eona has no one to teach her how to control her power. And she must learn to control it, because Kygo will need all of her power to take back his throne.
For a book that addresses the common theme of power struggle (not my favourite theme), I was impressed. It was amazing to see how Eona changed as a character as she was forced to confront her power and those who wanted to use it for their own good. Her struggle to refrain from taking this power for her own gain rather than using it for the good of the empire, and all the people in it, felt authentic. I admit I’m not super-keen on love triangles so I also found this aspect of the book less attractive. So, I liked Eon better than Eona. The ending of Eona, though, was great — it fit the mandate (happy) and I believed it.
I commented in an earlier post about the difference between Cashore’s novels Graceling and Fire; the second book (not a sequel, exactly, but the second one written about the same world) dealt much more with sexuality. I found this in Eona too: it dealt much more with sexuality than Eon did. Obviously, this is kind-of natural since in Eon, she was posing as a man, and now she is her full-on woman self, and coming to terms with that. I don’t know that it was a very YA or teen book, though. Anyway, I thought it was interesting that I noticed this similarity in Graceling:Fire and Eon:Eona. Innteresting.