Rooted deeply in Chinese and various Asian Mythologies, Eon: Dragoneye Reborn is an epic tale of a political struggle for power, a coming-of-age story, a parable on female empowerment, and so much more. Oh, and did I mention there's dragons?
The story revolves around Eon, a twelve-year-old candidate for Rat Dragoneye. Underneath, however, is Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who will be put to death if she is found out. Amidst Eon's inner and outer struggles is a sinister plan to unleash the mythical String of Pearls and rule the Empire.
The plot is really much more detailed and many-faceted than what I can relay in a review; it unfolds elegantly, layer by layer, until the gripping climax. Admittedly, I guessed a few key points much earlier than the characters, but that made it all the more exhilarating when the characters learned the secrets they needed. The ending is fairly abrupt, almost like the book and its conclusion were one book that was sliced in two to cut costs.
Eona, the main character, is thrust into a world that she is not only unaccustomed to, but also a world where women are not appreciated. The inner power of a woman is ignored by her society, but it just may be Eona's greatest weapon. Surrounding her are a strong cast of supporting characters. The villainous Lord Ido, Rat Dragoneye, has machinations to grab the throne for himself. Lady Dela, one of Eon's closest allies, is a Contraire, a man who lives as a woman; Contraires were revered and respected in Lady Dela's tribe but are foreign ans strange in the Empire. Ryko, Lady Dela's guardian, is Moon Shadow; that is, a eunuch. He is charged with protecting Eon, but is he prepared for what that means?
This novel was originally published for adults in Australia (as The Two Pearls of Wisdom), and it shows. There is violence as well as drugs and mention of eunuchs and concubines. The world is fully realized in every facet, ad younger readers may be unprepared. That said, older readers and adults will find the story riveting and engrossing. Definitely a fantasy, Eon should appeal to people fond of political stories, Asian-inspired stories, and perhaps a few science fiction or romance fans.
Overall, this novel is expertly crafted and researched, and it pays off. Allison Goodman has crafted an epic novel that ranks among such YA juggernauts as Graceling and Ella Enchanted.