Quickly paced and full of surprising twists, Eon transcends standard fantasy fare because author Alison Goodman focuses on the intriguepoison, secret tunnels, rebellious eunuchsin the lush imperial palace, and on the way this young girl eventually realizes that she must embrace her female self, her "Moon energy," in order to prevail.
The Washington Post
Inspired by Asian culture, Goodman (Singing the Dogstar Blues) weaves a fantasy with contemporary themes about gender identity and female power. Because women are forbidden to study Dragon magic, 16-year-old Eona disguises herself as Eon, a 12-year-old boy, to compete to be an apprentice Dragoneye, a communicant with one of 12 energy dragons. Crippled years earlier, she is least likely to be chosen. But then the Mirror Dragon, mysteriously absent for 500 years, appears at the competition and selects Eona. Unable to share her secret even with her new friends, the soldier eunuch Ryko and Lady Dela, a "Contraire," or transgender courtier, Eona must confront the corrupt Lord Ido and save the empire from his schemes-and discover how to invoke the power of the Mirror Dragon. Goodman's characters hold built-in appeal for fans of Tamora Pierce (particularly of her Song of the Lioness Quartet), but they go further than Pierce's in staking out their sexuality; the author's plotting is elaborate, smart and capable of taking the audience by surprise. Enthralled readers will be hard-pressed to wait for the story's second half, Eona:The Last Dragoneye, scheduled for 2010. Ages 12-up. (Dec.)Copyright © Reed Business Information, a division of Reed Elsevier Inc. All rights reserved.
Entangled politics and fierce battle scenes provide a pulse-quickening pace, while the intriguing characters add interest and depth . . . Readers will clamor for the sequel. -starred review
Fans of Tamora Pierce and Garth Nix will be riveted by this fast-paced gender-bending fantasy. Goodman's rousing mix of swordplay, magic, adventure, and Asian astrology is inventive and enthralling.
There are plenty of surprises in this book. The thoughtfully imagined world and riveting adventure Goodman brought to her debut Singing the Dogstar Blues she now brings to the ancient past in Asia. The best way to begin is when you can read it straight through to the end (and then you'll want to start over to see how well Goodman planted the seeds for her many revelations.)
A refreshing change from the generic. This intelligent, vividly written tale grips from the first page.
Alison Goodman has created a wonderfully well-rounded story in this, the first of a duology set in a faux Asian world. [EON
Goodman has produced an action-packed, well-plotted and acutely imagined fantasy that draws on the popularity of such films as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon. Anyone who enjoys kung-fu movies will devour this book.
Goodman perfectly balances intense action scenes with the thoughtful musings of the narrator Eon. Readers will feel intimately close to each fascinating yet still realistic character. Do not be put off by the first several chapters; the terminology and rituals are baffling at first. After several chapters, however, the universe created by Goodman appeals to all readers and not just fantasy fans. Admirers will anxiously await what is sure to be an exhilarating sequel. Reviewer: Lucy Freeman, Teen Reviewer
In a land with supernatural dragons, it is a thing of power and wonder to be a Dragoneye. Dragoneyes are men of wealth and authority who control the dragons. A time of choosing is coming, and Eon, a Dragoneye candidate, and his master are risking everything on his being selected by a dragon. Eon harbors great secrets. He can see all twelve dragons when most Dragoneyes can only see one. But more critically, Eon is actually Eona, a fifteen-year-old girl posing as a twelve-year-old boy. If she is found out, she and her master will be killed for their deception. Eon gains power, finds friends in high places and enemies in higher ones, and must grow up quickly. The book ends with a cliffhanger, assuring a sequel. Goodman creates a medieval, Asian-tinged world with unique mythology and magic that nonetheless feels genuine. Eon faces real enemies, has bona fide relationships, and must overcome authentic problems. The powers Eon has tapped into are elemental, difficult to control, and scary. The politics with which she plays are bigger than life, and their consequences are frightening. The grown-up sensibility to this story goes beyond politics though; in Goodman's society, eunuchs and transgendered people are not uncommon and earthy language about the body is part of everyday speech. Mature fantasy readers, as well as fans of political intrigue, such as readers of George R. R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire series, will enjoy this one very much. Reviewer: Geri Diorio
Gr 8 Up
In this Asian-inspired fantasy world, political power belongs to the emperor, but also to the Dragoneyes: men who harness the power of the 12 energy dragons named for animals from the Chinese zodiac. Each year, a new one comes to power, and the dragon itself chooses a new apprentice from a pool of 12-year-old boys. Physically lame Eon is thought least likely to be chosen and also has a secret: Eon is truly Eona, a 16-year-old girl. At the ceremony, the Rat Dragon chooses fellow trainee Dillon for the role of apprentice. Eon thinks that all is lost until she sees a dragon no one has seen in 400 years: the Dragon Dragon-also known as the Mirror Dragon. The Mirror Dragon chooses Eon as an apprentice, and because there is no current Mirror Dragoneye, she must serve on the Dragoneye Council herself. She is thus plunged into the dangerous world of the court, which is sharply divided between the emperor and ruthless Lord Ido, the powerful Rat Dragoneye. Fans of Tamora Pierce will appreciate both the strong female protagonist and the cast of shrewd misfits who support her. Although the pace is initially slow, patient readers will be rewarded with high-stakes action in a well-crafted fantasy universe. A second volume will follow, but this one has an ending satisfying enough that readers will not feel cheated.-Megan Honig, New York Public Library
Eon knows his chance of becoming the Rat Dragoneye is almost nonexistent. Crippled by an old injury, he can scarcely manage the sword forms Dragoneye candidates perform. More importantly, everybody knows that Dragons won't choose girls, and that's just what Eon is, though he-she-has been in disguise for so many years she barely remembers what it means to be female. Indeed, the Rat Dragon doesn't choose Eon; the Mirror Dragon, lost for more than 500 years, chooses him instead. Raised instantly from slave to lord, Eon is thrust into deadly court politics. In a fantasy world loosely and uneasily based on Imperial China, Eon's unexpected presence disturbs those who would overthrow the Emperor. Fast-paced excitement carries Eon through this tension-packed adventure, where victory can only come with self-knowledge. It's too bad this excellent portrayal of a disabled action-heroine concludes by retroactively turning disability into a metaphor for ignorance. Nonetheless, this adventure, filled with intrigue, friendships, combat and magical allies, is a winner. (Fantasy. 12-14)First printing of 100,000