One of my favourite Young Adult fantasy books is Eon: Dragoneye Reborn and its sequel Eona: The Last Dragoneye by Australian author Alison Goodman. Also known as Rise of the Dragoneye, the Eon duology is inspired by Chinese mythology in a world where apprentices can be trained to commune with dragon spirits based on the Chinese zodiac in order to help control the weather and prevent devastating storms.
The story is told from the eyes of Eona, a young girl who disguises herself as the boy Eon in order to be chosen as a Dragoneye apprentice and gain all the riches, power and prestige that go with it. Eona’s world has some backward notions when it comes to feminism, and so only boys can become apprentices. If her disguise is discovered, then she risks a painful death. Sadly, Eona fails to attract the Rat Dragon of that year, but is instead chosen by the mysterious Mirror Dragon who hasn’t been seen in centuries.
This begins an adventure of intrigue, magic, and political suspense as Eona is thrust into a world full of deadly enemies and she is forced to choose a political side by protecting the emperor and fighting against the rebels who would stab him in the back and overthrow him. Eona is under pressure to complete her Dragoneye training whilst undertaking a quest she never asked for. The stakes are high, and the dark Lord Ido, the ambitious Rat Dragoneye, is a constant threat – and honestly he’s one of my favourite fictional villains of all time.
The world of Eona is authentic and has been clearly researched with care down to minute details such as the Feng Shui of rooms. Goodman’s writing style drips with atmosphere and her descriptions paint a beautiful picture. The first Eon book certainly isn’t without action either. The main side characters of Ryko and Lady Dela are wonderful and fight alongside Eona. I especially love Lady Dela, who is a trans woman and is not ashamed of who she is.
There was so much I loved about Eon and Eona that my only real complaint is that we didn’t get enough of the dragon lore. The first book does end on a slight cliff-hanger which made me desperate to launch straight into book two.
After the explosive end to Eon, the sequel carries on from the first book. Eona’s secret is revealed and she is now in full control of her Mirror Dragon. She must help the displaced emperor’s son Prince Kygo to reclaim his throne whilst still reeling from the destruction from the first book. All this whilst waging a war against the evil tyrant Sethon, learning to control and unleash her Dragoneye powers, and becoming more comfortable with her female identity.
There’s plenty of action in this sequel, but also a lot more romance this time round. There IS a love triangle between the young Kygo and the villain of book one, Lord Ido. I’ll admit I wasn’t much of a Kygo fan and really loved Lord Ido in this book; his redemption arc was fascinating and he offered a different perspective on the magical powers of the dragons and their destiny. Ultimately, the love triangle offered Eona two different paths for her future; the choice between taking power for herself and using her power to help save the world.
Again, I loved the world and lore but wished we had more of it. The ending honestly broke me and I couldn’t stop thinking about this book and the characters for weeks after. It just wasn’t enough; I needed more, an epilogue, SOMETHING. The mark of a great book, right?
Sadly, there aren’t any other books in the Eon world, but Goodman has written a whole new series of dark fantasy books based on Regency England with monster hunting. If that sounds like your thing, check out The Dark Days Club and its sequels!