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Heartless Lyn @ Great Imaginations

"All that is gold does not glitter,
Not all those who wander are lost"

Eon  - Alison Goodman The title and main character, Eona, covers her identity under a male guise dubbed “Eon” to compete as one of the twelve Dragoneyes, a person who binds their life force with one of the ancient dragons of the zodiac. After a sudden twist of events, Eona is dragged into the mist of a royal conspiracy, a secret rebellion, and a deadly struggle for the throne of the land and her own life. My overall thoughts are at war on this book. Eonis the story of Mulan infused with Chinese dragon lore and testosterone. I cannot say that I enjoyed the story. Eona's constant bemoaning, lack of insight and overall unwise decisions rubbed me the wrong way. Anxiety drove me through the book as well as annoyance for Eona as a lead role. She is a 16 year old girl, and was highly praised as wise beyond her years early on in the story, but the rest of the book did not support this observation. I could not become interested in the storyline when I often felt enraged by choices made by Eona. If nothing else, she should have understood some of the basic clues that were hitting her right in the face. I could have filed this under “maturing teenage character”, but the scenes involving the abuse of the male hormone drug almost caused me to file this one away under DNF.However, the story was luckily saved by a cast of wonderfully inspiring and original characters. I applaud Goodman's approach to gender roles and gender identities. Especially to such roles that are ignored and underrepresented in the fiction field. Outside of the typical female and male gender alignment, transgender people and eunuchs (two subdivisions - hormone-treated and non-hormone treated) come into the fold. The argument for eunuchs as ‘gender identification’ can be brought up and made, since it involves mutilation of genitalia instead of a personality element, but for the present moment, this is the closest to an asexual gender identification as we get. In Eon, women are simply a lowly form of humans, and high regard and opinion is something not seen in the book. It would be just another male vs female fiction without the addition to some of the strongest challenges to the very definition of gender and sex. Lady Dela and Ryko step into the arena and challenge the reader with a bold, "Here I am; deal with it" approach to their own personal identification. Lady Dela, in particular, has to be one of the most interesting and strongest character roles in any fantasy novel I have read. Her honest and brave struggle with the people who label her as a demon and freak strikes the heart and helps define the simplistic question of not only who, but what, we are and what we are made of under the physical constrictions of our flesh. Rilla and Chart come into the field and perfectly balances the field of likable and interesting characters. The idea of the dragons was another interesting development of the story. Goodman mentions that her culture is fictional, but the influence of Japanese and Chinese culture is strongly linked to Goodman's. I believe the dragons are the 12 dragons of the Chinese zodiac (just an interesting fact: I was born in the Year of the Rooster - just my luck to be brought into this world while a cock resides over the heavens). Other aspects of the story, such as the royal hierarchy, building design, in-story mythology, names and setting reflects a strong influence from Asian culture. The market for non-Anglo inspired fiction is growing, and Eon provides a strong and stable book for such a field.Lastly, the last portion of the book was a complete surprise to me. Eona struggles to find the name of a fabled and powerful dragon in the book. When she discovers the name, I was taken off guard and pleasantly surprised by the ingenious of the author. Even the background information of said dragon came to me as a surprise. On the downside, outside of Eona's personality confusion, the prince of the story was barely touched upon. He was a central character of the book, yet I feel that he is blandly described and that I do not know the character as well as some of the minor characters of the story. Also, the writing, at times, seemed to drag and become clunky with overly exposed insight and description of minute events and details. However, Eon deserved the higher rating after the completion of the story, despite the irritating flaws mentioned. Hopefully, in the future, I am able to continue with the next book in the series. After the last events in Eon, I am counting on Eona's new insight to help her develop into a likable and fairly more intelligent female role.