3.5 Stars. This is a wonderful and original depiction of asian fantasy, with a fabulous exploration of gender identity, not just within the main character, but in supporting roles as well.
I'll start with the dragons. Normally, my taste in fantasy allows for very little presence of the giant magical beasts. Not to hate on favorites like Eragon or The Neverending Story, but dragons are a tricky element for me. Daenerys and her children I hold on a separate pedestal all together, mainly because Martin's gritty world building and story telling make them real, and not magic. I won't get all off on a tangent about ASOIAF, so I'll just mention also thatJacqueline Carey's Naamah's Curse is about as close as I've come to accepting a celestial dragon presence. Eon, however, left me thoroughly impressed. The intricate descriptions and vivid imagery of the twelve--or should I say, thirteen?--celestial beasts were beautiful. Since the story focuses on the Rat and Mirror Dragons the most, we were given the most insight to their specific elements, and I'll probably think of each of them in turn whenever I taste vanilla and orange or cinnamon for some time to come.
The relationship each Dragoneye has with his (and her) dragon is only touched on, but I expect there to be more to come in the sequel. There are some interesting relationships brewing with the characters, too, and I'm so glad that not one bit of this first book focuses on a romance for Eona. There are bigger things brewing than whether she's got a love interest...but don't worry love fans, I also expect to see some romance in the sequel. More so Alison Goodman gives us interesting friendships and alliances, and I'll say again I was fascinated by the exploration of gender and what makes a person male or female - is it just the physical body, or the spirit within? Dela is a wonderful character, probably my favorite of Eona's companions. At the center of Eon is also the idea of gender inequality; a women's nature turns them towards compassion and hysteria rather than strategy and logic, and therefore they cannot be trusted with anything of importance, least of all the responsibility of being a Dragoneye. Enter Eona, first Mirror Dragoneye chosen in five hundred years.
Or, at least, I wanted it to be Bam. Sadly, Eona spends much of her time in self-doubt and inaction, but I guess I'll concede that she's still coming into her own, adjusting to no longer being in servant status, and so on. But still, I wanted a little more badassness from her by the middle of the book. Most of my frustration with her and this book as a whole was that my intuition--a womanly weakness that is not to be trusted *wink*--led me to all but one of the secrets waiting at the end. I'm not necessarily annoyed that I figured out all the mysteries early on, more so with Eona's slowness to grasp the same facts. She spends so much time running away and hiding from being what she is...a girl...that she's completely blinded to some pretty obvious solutions.
All in all, though, it's a good start and I have high hopes for the sequel.