Book Review: Eon by Alison Goodman

Posted May 23, 2014 by Debby in Book Reviews

Book Review: Eon by Alison GoodmanEon by Alison Goodman
Series: Eon #1
Published by Firebird on August 1st, 2008
Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Mythology, Young Adult
Pages: 531
Format: Paperback
Source: Purchased

Eon--the award-winning crossover fantasy that soars!

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.

4.5 Stars

Eon is a Chinese mythology-inspired fantasy story involving dragons and genderbending, so obviously when I heard about it, it went on my GAH-MUST-HAVE-THIS-NOW list. Due to its length, I needed some extra persuasion to actually read it, but that’s when I can always count on book club. I breezed through and absolutely adored this story.

Right off the bat I’ll just say that while this book is a daunting 530 pages, it doesn’t feel like it at all. It reads so easily that you just blaze through the pages and soon are at the ending begging for more. It has a lot to do, I think, with the fluidity of the writing and the great worldbuilding. Goodman clearly did her research. I adored how the mythology of the Chinese zodiac was given its twist here. Dragons in general are super awesome already, but I just loved seeing the structure of the magic in this world and just… everything. I was absorbed by this world – it was so interesting and deep.

And I also just immediately loved Eon, the main character. Secretly Eona, a girl, she has disguised herself to try to obtain the position of a Dragoneye. She has a power few others do – she can see the dragons in plain sight, although they are invisible to the rest. Clearly this means she has some kind of destiny involving them. However, she lives in a world where females are oppressed and looked down on. That kind of society usually irks me, but since it tied so well into this Chinese-inspired world, it felt wholly natural to me. Eon is fierce and strong, and she doesn’t give up on what her instincts tell her to do, in spite of the many difficulties that she faces. She gets stronger and stronger as this book goes on, and my connection to her grew over time as well.

I suppose I didn’t expect just how intense this book would get. There are quite a few super dramatic action scenes with blood and gore everywhere. As I was midway through reading A Game of Thrones at the same time, it all became a bloody blur to me. But I liked that. The stakes are high in this book, and because of it you get very intensely into the book, hoping your favorite characters will stay safe. There’s also a lot of politics in the background, and I adore that in any fantasy story. It just ups the level of intrigue to me. So great!

I also just have to take the time to praise the diversity of this story. Not only is this set in a Chinese-inspired fantasy world, but the main character, Eon(a) has a disability. Her hip was broken, so she has a limp which makes people judge her and gets in the way of her Dragoneye training. Then, there’s one of my favorite elements of the book: Lady Dela, a transsexual character. And in fact, in her society, transsexuals are seen as lucky – they have a “twin soul” which brings good fortune to their community (while in other regions, there is still prejudice against transsexuals). One of my favorite passages of the book was a conversation between Eon and Lady Dela, which was all about positivity and acceptance and just… wow! I wasn’t expecting it, but I absolutely adore it.

“I found power in accepting the truth of who I am. It may not be a truth that others can accept, but I cannot live any other way. How would it be to live a lie every minute of your life? I don’t think I could do it.” Eon by Alison Goodman
I must admit I was kind of taken aback by the fact that there isn’t really any romance in this book. I mean, I suppose I have come to rather expect that from young adult books nowadays. I was so poised to see who the love interest would be. And I guess I do see a spark with the prince. There was that wonderful section where Eona muses about his handsome shirtless figure, but no romance! I’m only very mildly disappointed though, because the story here was SO GOOD that it didn’t really need any romance. AND I kind of get the sense that the romance could happen in the sequel, Eona, made twenty million times more beautiful because of this slow build and great foundation established in the first book.

Probably Eon‘s weakest point is that the ending is very inconvenient. Though the book is long, it’s not really slow. I kept reading easily, totally engaged by the story, but a lot of it was building on this mystery surrounding the dragon mythology and not so much focused on huge battles. It was building and building in this slow crescendo to the climax, and then the ending just cuts the story off. It’s not really a cliffhanger, but it comes at this point when you’re just SO into the book and SO absorbed by the story, curious to see what happens next. I suppose I wanted a bit more of the action that’s promised at the end to take place in THIS book. Also, View Spoiler »

Summing Up:

This book may even have surpassed my high expectations. I absolutely loved it. Yeah, there were a couple TINY things that maybe could have been better, but I feel like all will be improved and expanded upon in the sequel, Eona, which I can’t wait to get to. I’m happy to say that everyone in our book club loved this one (4-5 stars), which is why Eona will be our book club book in June. Yeah. It’s that good, guys. If you haven’t gotten into this yet, and you’re a fantasy fan… fix it. ASAP.

GIF it to me straight!


Recommended To:

Fans of high fantasy, dragons, Asian mythology, genderbending Mulan, etc etc EVERYONE.

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9 responses to “Book Review: Eon by Alison Goodman

  1. I’ve always really really wanted to read this one but the length has definitely been scaring me off! I think I might have to go for it soon though. It sounds like something I’d find absolutely perfect, well almost! 😀

  2. I hadn’t even heard of this book before, but other than the lack of romance, it sounds like I will love it! Fantasy. Love. Dragons. Yes. Girl pretending to be a boy. I’m a sucker for that. I have to admit, I do like some romance, and I’m the same way. When I’m reading, I’m like, ok, who is going to be the love interest? But it sounds like I won’t miss it. And I’m assuming that since it’s so old the series is complete? I’m going to have to check that out. These series are killing me so I would love to binge read a complete series.

  3. I’ve heard FANTASTIC things about these two books & I really have no idea why I haven’t read them yet.

    Okay, so, even though the two couldn’t be more different, this review reminds me so much of the book I just finished this morning. Both could been seen as intimidating (the one I read was over 500 pages as well), but are incredibly easy reads. My favorite though is that the story stands on its own without romance. All the Light We Cannot See featured no romance and the story didn’t suffer from the lack at all. In fact, I think a romance plot would have detracted from the plot.

  4. Sounds interesting, though the length kind of scares me and I’m not sure about all the political stuff. The last YA fantasy I read that had a lot of politics was Voices by Ursula K. Le Guin, and I did like it… but it had almost 200 fewer pages than this one! I’m feeling bogged down by 350-page books at the moment. I think Eon will have to wait.

  5. Your review is awesome! I had no idea that Eon is based off of Chinese culture, kind of. But now I reaaaaallly want to read this book, since I’m half-chinese. AND I WILL READ ALL THE FANTASY! Plus that cover looks absolutely gorgeous!

  6. i first read Eon a year and a half ago and it immediately became one of my favorite books for all the reasons you said and then some. It’s just so well done and should definitely be required reading for all fantasy fans (and those who don’t think they love fantasy).
    On the romance front: I was pretty happy there wasn’t any romance in this one. I mean, Eona had to deal with some really, really tough things in this book, and a romance could have had the adverse effect of trivializing her pains or making them “easier” to solve. This is firmly a book about Eona discovering herself, which I appreciated. That being said, there’s a lot more romance in book 2, so prepare yourself. 🙂