Friday, May 10, 2013
Eon by Alison Goodman
My rating: 3 of 5 stars
Eon wants more than anything to be accepted by a spirit dragon and become a Dragoneye - but to do so he must hide his true identity: Eon is Eona, a girl.
Eon's life is dangerous and difficult enough: she suffers from a maimed hip and is seen as unlucky. It may hide her from the danger of discovery, but it makes her question her ability to complete the trials necessary to prove she is strong enough to commune with the spirit dragons. But getting what she wants plunges her into more danger than she could have imagined, and her inability to tell the truth may destroy everyone around her.
Goodman is doing some interesting things with gender identity in this book: Eon is befriended by Lady Dela, a transgendered woman who is at home in her identity in ways that Eon cannot afford to be. This fantasy world, heavily modeled after ancient Chinese and Japanese Imperial cultures, is also full of eunuchs (Eon pretends to be one to explain her girlish looks) and slaves. Maleness and femininity are key to to story, and are forces that change the balance of power in Eon's deeply sexist world.
It's a longish book, full of angst and political intrigue. (It's great to see an intricate fantasy world modeled on Asian culture, but the names feel like random fantasy names: there is Kyto, Ryko and Dillon. It's a bit jarring. Dillon? Goodman could have thought about that one a little longer.) Eon can be frustratingly thick-headed sometimes, but I definitely want to find out what happens in the conclusion to the duology.