Eon (Eon, #1)
Paperback: 576 pages
Publisher: Firebird; Reprint edition (August 31, 2010)
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 I first attempted to read Eon, I was all for it; as in, I loved the Chinese Zodiac animals and how they were incorporated into the book was genius. However, when I actually started to read the book, this is how my mind spoke to me: "Nice visuals I'm getting with all the descriptive detail...whoa, the dragons are so majestic...gah, more descriptive detail? Where's the action?....I can't take it anymore, must know how it ends..." In fact, I only ended up reading the first quarter of the book and then skimming the rest. That, I knew later, made for a very bad understanding of the series of events that occurred in the book. So that is why I decided to give Eon another chance.
Eona was in a serious dilemma when she was approached by her new master while she was working the salt farms. She had seen so many of her "colleagues" and friends die from a coughing sickness induced by just being there. If she wanted to survive and have a chance to come into riches herself, she would have to follow her new masters orders and become a boy forevermore. Eon was then known as one of the twelve candidates vying for the position of Rat Dragoneye Apprentice. Being cripple and one of the smallest boys in the bunch, the odds were not in his favor. (Actually, since the ceremony of the choosing would be somewhere the whole town could watch, they were placing bets and Eon's was 1:1000. Yikes.)
Characters: Eon was going through what manga readers know as a "gender-bender" situation, meaning he was so undercover that he couldn't be a girl if he tried. Pros of his character would be his ambition (ironically, enough), his...Well, there wasn't much else. Cons of his character is a different story; his constant fears and worries of what others would do to him if they knew the truth got annoying real fast. His cowardice to face the problems and deal with them made me want to punch him numerous and say, "Grow a pair." His indecisiveness was frustrating and the constant doubt made me want to skip pages again. Through all of this, I still didn't think badly of him because I knew the full extent of the circumstances he was in. All of the pressure that was on him to succeed was overwhelming to say the least. In one interaction that Eon had with another very important character made me question, "Has anyone ever told Eon that they love him?"
The other characters and people who are introduced became far more prudent to plot line than side characters would normally be. In fact, while I enjoyed every interaction that Eon had with all the other characters, Eon would barely speak twice in their whole conversation. Rilla and Chart were most dear to my heart because their loyalty to Eon's master's house was unquestionable, and Chart's "deformity" just pulled at my heartstrings. Speaking of Eon's master, Heuris Brannon was indeed a terrifying man but it was clear the underlying emotion he felt toward his trainee. Lady Dela and Ryko were two of my favorite characters because they made a great team and their opinion of him mattered very much to Eon. Now, I must mention the dragons because their role in this book meant everything to the other characters in the story. Like I said before, these beasts were definitely majestic, but they were also calculating, cunning and cooperative in times of worldly distress. Their faculty was to help when the land was in crisis, whether it be to a monsoon, an earthshake, or anything else that could affect the land and its harvest from prospering.
Plot: Eon was one of those books that follows the constant of taking the hero/heroine to their lowest point before even thinking of capitalizing on their strength and courage to help others. I was dreading the time when all his secrets would come light and the possible punishment it would mean for all who helped get to where he is. And this is where the twists and surprises in the plot came in, because I remember when I first skimmed the book, I spoiled one of the best secrets for myself, so when I went back to read it the second time, I knew the best thing that could happen and didn't have anything to look forward too. But boy was it a good secret...and it made Eon look like an absolute fool which I liked because I knew that he could only grow as a character from that point on. His desperate decisions and his deception were all seen to by the end of this book
Another consistency that I read through more thoroughly the second time around was the descriptive detail, and yes it drove me crazy to read through it all but I was able to fully appreciate the pain-staking process the author went through to provide such vivid imaginings and in my mind's eye it was beautiful.
Originality: Its obvious how much thought and love went into creating Eon because after reading all about all its characters and the world-building, there's no doubt in my mind that this book is one of a kind. Where else will you find a society that depends on the magical power of a multitude of twelve dragons and their handlers to keep you and your property safe from natural disaster? However, while the mythical aspect of this book is unique, the protagonist and his struggles were interesting but more of the same: rookie mistakes, slow learning curve, and final revealing revelation.
Overall: I have to recommend this to readers who have been in a reading slump but only to those who want to slowly get back in the game. Mostly due to the fact that while there are battle and fight scenes, the book isn't as fast-paced as an action-packed book would be.