Imagine a world where dragons based on the twelve celestial animals of the Chinese Zodiac lived through some chosen ones called the Dragoneyes. If these chosen humans are able to bond with one of the celestial creatures, they they are bestowed unfathomable power that can even control nature such as stopping earthquakes or creating monsoons to wipe out villages. The twelve Dragoneyes work in harmony with one another, but there is one other dragon, a thirteenth that can rule over them all. This dragon, however, has been missing for over five hundred years until one Dragoneye candidate Eon came along.
Alison Goodman’s Eon: Dragoneye Reborn, also known as Two Pearls of Wisdom, is the first in a duology about Eon, a young crippled person trying to become the next chosen Dragoneye apprentice for the Rat Dragon. However, Eon holds a secret so deep and dangerous that it can lead to a gruesome death if divulged that Eon is a female, living under the guise of a male. In a society where only males are allowed to become the chosen ones, Eon has to hide her identity in order to even be considered. Although she is eventually chosen by the return of the mysteriously missing thirteenth Dragon, her life remains in danger, as she must ensure her secret remains so for as long as she lives.
Goodman’s writing of a girl who must do everything she must to compete and lead in a male-centric world gives readers a heroine so strong that Game of Thrones fans of Arya Stark would praise. She also illustrates the idea that strength goes beyond gender identity through other powerful characters such as Lady Dela, a transgender, and the many eunuchs and slaves throughout the book.
While the author notes that the world is not meant to represent any single East Asian country, the influences of China and Japan are apparent, while providing historical accuracy in portraying the medieval landscape in East Asia. The only thing that reminds readers that the story is not a true representation of East Asian medieval times is the Western character names such as Brannon and Dillon. Overall, Goodman did an amazing job creating an enchanting world and deep characters.There are, however, certain themes and even characters that may not be appropriate for the light-hearted and even controversial and bold for a young adult novel. In fact, Goodman’s writing and handling of characters are more suitable for older audiences, thus a warning is necessary for younger readers.
Readers looking for a strong heroine in a story with an incredible and immersive world should consider Alison Goodman’s Eon.
Alison Goodman is an Australian author, best known for her New York Times bestselling Eon/Eona duology. Eon was also named an American Library Association Best Young Adult Book in 2010, a James Tiptree Jr. Honour book and a CBCA Notable book.