Author: Alison Goodman
Publication Date: 8/31/10
Blurb (GR): 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.
When it comes to fantasy, I am a fan of the softer, girlier type, heavy on romance and relationships and lighter on mythology, magic and dragons. That's why it is such a surprise I liked this book so much, because Eon: Dragoneye Reborn is very mythology-oriented and prone to frequent info-dumping (especially in the beginning).
At first, the story is reminiscent of Alanna: The First Adventure. Eon(a) is a 16-year old girl who pretends to be a 12-year old boy in order to have a chance of becoming a Dragoneye - an apprentice to one of the 12 dragons. The Dragoneye help channel and manipulate the dragons' energies. Eona has to conceal her sex because only men are allowed to be the Dragoneye and if her true identity is found out, her death is imminent.
Soon, however, the story becomes something 10 times more exciting than Tamora Pierce ever offered. Once the day when the ascending dragon chooses his new apprentice approaches, Eona finds herself at a center of a complex political intrigue that threatens the future of the whole country. She has to make alliances, she has to pick the side she wants to be on, she has to make some tough decisions.
Although I admit, I missed the romance and some tear-inducing moments in this book, the impeccable, magnificent world created by Alison Goodman completely captured my imagination and made me forget about the slight deficiencies in characterization. The world of the Empire of the Celestial Dragons is simply a magical mix of Chinese mythology and astrology, Feng Shui, Tai Chi meditation and various aspect of many Eastern cultures! It is is very ceremonious, very precise and measured. I particularly liked the whole concept of dragons that are essentially bodiless energies rather that fire-spitting reptiles. And the book cover is simply perfect fit for this story, it's an epitome of how I imagine the world of Eon. Isn't it gorgeous?
And don't let me forget to mention the gender-bender twists in this book. Not every YA novel has cross-dressers, transsexuals and eunuchs in it!
Can't wait for the sequel!