Eon: Dragoneye Reborn
by Alison Goodman
Cover Artist: Sammy Yuen, Jr.
Review by Colleen Cahill
Viking Juvenile Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9780670062270
Date: 26 December 2008 List Price $19.99 Amazon US / Amazon UK / Show Official Info /
What if I told you a story about a young person who seems the last candidate for an important post but overcomes the odds through determination and talent? There are many books that would fit that description, but what if I threw in that there were dragons? Many would think of Ann McCaffrey's Dragon Flight, but this snapshot also describes Alison Goodman's Eon. Both works use that classic trope of a young person rising above humble beginnings and what is most important, they both also write a great story. And having dragons in it does not hurt at all.
Eon is the most unlikely candidate for the apprenticeship to the Rat Dragon. A cripple who hardly excels at the sword work used in the selection ceremony, he does have the ability to see all the dragons, or at least all but the missing Mirror Dragon. This extremely rare talent is the only reason Eon is being allowed to compete. In this Asian-inspired world, there are twelve dragons that match the 12 years of the Oriental calendar, so there is the Dog Dragon, the Ox Dragon and so on.
Eon has a great secret, however, that could lead to his destruction; unlike all the other candidates, Eon is a girl. Because of her talent and because it is his last chance to recover his waning fortune, Master Brannon takes the risk of sponsoring Eon. Brannon also has a political desire in sponsoring Eon; if she can become the apprentice to the Rat Dragon, she could be the key to stopping Lord Ido from causing the overthrow of the Empire. None are surprised when Eon fails, but all are shocked when the Mirror Dragon appears for the first time in 500 years and claims our heroine as her representative. From total defeat to utter victory, Eon should be ecstatic, but she soon finds life is not easy, as the intrigues of Lord Ido threaten not just her position, but that of all the Dragon Lords and the Emperor.
As I noted above, there are elements of this work that have appeared in other tales: the unlikely hero overcoming a great challenge to gain a great prize, the only one who can save the world. But this is just the foundation, what Goodman does around these bones makes this a special and very entertaining book. Not only is the plot complex, with the twelve dragons being just one intriguing piece, but the characters are well drawn and compelling. It only proves that in the hands of a good author, a well used idea can come to life again, and this is true of Eon.
The book is being marketed for ages 12 and up, but don't consider this a children's work, any more than McCaffrey's dragon books are just for kids. Some of the ideas and characters here could be challenging for younger readers, such as Lady Dela, who is a "Contraire", a man who dresses and lives as a woman. There is also plenty of violence in this book, to be expected in a world-gone-mad scenario as we have in Eon, but all this is well handled and for the mature young adult, will make the story ring true.
I highly recommend this work for not only those who enjoy dragon novels, but those who like oriental fantasy or just want a really good read.