Sixteen-year-old Eon has a dream, and a mission. For years, he’s been studying sword-work and magic, toward one end. He and his master hope that he will be chosen as a Dragoneye-an apprentice to one of the twelve energy dragons of good fortune.
But Eon has a dangerous secret. He is actually Eona, a sixteen-year-old girl who has been masquerading as a twelve-year-old boy. Females are forbidden to use Dragon Magic; if anyone discovers she has been hiding in plain sight, her death is assured.
When Eon’s secret threatens to come to light, she and her allies are plunged into grave danger and a deadly struggle for the Imperial throne. Eon must find the strength and inner power to battle those who want to take her magic…and her life.
I’m a sucker for warrior girls masquerading as boys, I’ll just say that first. Probably because of Tamora Pierce’s Lioness Quartet, which I read and loved way back when I was a tween. Actually, reading this book kind of made me want to go back and revisit Alanna’s story. But Eon first!
Eon takes place in a world full of Asian inspired myths and legacy. The Chinese Zodiac animals in this book are manifested as dragons. Each year a different dragon ascends, choosing one apprentice to share their power with, thus making them a Dragoneye. The competition to be chosen is fierce, since being a Dragoneye brings money as well as power. Eon is a dark horse in the race to be chosen because he is a cripple, a sign of bad luck in this world. No one expects Eon to be chosen, but his Master is intent on making it happen as a way to save his household from decline. Pressure! Eon’s Master is the only one who knows he is really a she, having saved Eona from working in the rice fields years earlier. Eon has worked hard ever since, not only at becoming a good candidate, but at stripping away Eona’s femininity.
I really enjoyed this book. The world was very strong and I liked how clear and detailed the ritual of the Dragoneyes were. I also like that this book delved into what it really means to live as a member of the opposite sex and the tolls that can take. Eon is not just a girl acting like a boy, she actually feels the need to become Eon. By the time this story begins Eon thinks of himself in boy terms, referring to Eona as his shadow self and pushing that self farther away at every opportunity. Discovery would mean death, not just for Eon but for his Master as well.
Lady Dela (a man who lives as a woman) is a nice contrast to Eon, showing how important it is to live as your true self, no matter what the dangers. Eon is a great main character, but the secondary characters really stood out for me as well. Lady Dela, Ryko and Rilla in particular. I also enjoyed that even the “good” characters weren’t simple. Sexism is pretty much the norm here and Eon knows that even people she considers friends might turn on her if they knew the truth.
I did have a few quibbles, of course.
1. The big twist concerning the nature of the mirror dragon and why Eon can’t seem to find her power seemed obvious me right from the beginning. This made it really frustrating when Eon persisted in doing the worst things possible to bring this power out. I wished that it had either been less obvious or Eon had been less dense in that particular area.
2. Eon’s Master creeped me out, just sayin’.
3. While I was interested in what was happening, this book moved a bit slowly for me at times. It got off to a great start but started to drag in the middle. Fortunately it picked back up at the end.
Despite these small drawbacks it was definitely a fun read and I’m looking forward to the next book!