Tag Archives: Fantasy

Harnessing the Dragon Within

Book Stats: Eon

Author: Alison Goodman

Age group: 15-19

Best place to buy: Barnesandnoble.com

Length: 544 pages

Rating: 9 out of 10

So, I lied, I finished one last book before finals week really started. I couldn’t help it, it was impossible to put down. It was all I could think about and I knew I had to finish it before I got any real work done. I can hardly wait for the sequel to come out in April.

Summary: Eon by Alison Goodman is a long book, but a fast read. Eon is a candidate to become a Dragoneye apprentice and eventually a Dragoneye. Dragoneyes have a connection to the twelve energy dragons that control their own point of the compass and each have their own year of increased power. The energy dragons help to keep balance in the land and bring good fortune to the people. Candidates are boys born in the year of the dragon they hope to connect with. They undergo training before the New Year celebration, during which the dragon chooses the next apprentice.

Eon is unlike the other candidates, not just because of a crippled hip. Eon is really Eona, a sixteen year old girl masquerading as a boy because girls are not allowed to use dragon magic, something she already shows an affinity for. Her master, a former Dragoneye, has placed all his fortune and hope on her being chosen by the Rat Dragon.

Eon must struggle to hide her secret; if found it would result in her death. This becomes harder as she is thrown into a fight for the empire, the Dragoneye way of life and her identity. Will she have the bravery to own her true identity? Pick up this must read to find out.

Reasons for the rating: As I mentioned earlier, I found this book hard to put down. From page one I was hooked and wanted to know more about this girl desperately trying to make it in a man’s field, as a man. I think one reason I liked this book was how it reminded me of Tamora Pierce’s series, Song of the Lioness. The main character in that series starts out taking her brother’s place in training to become a knight, hiding her feminine identity. It also interested me to see a quote from Pierce, saying how much she liked it, on the front of the book. I really enjoyed Pierce’s books when I was younger and I was interested to see a book endorsed so enthusiastically by her. Eon has a voice reminiscent of Pierce’s earlier books while still holding its own.

This book has elements very reminiscent of Chinese culture. Where Pierce bases her books in the time of knights in the medieval period; Goodman bases hers in the dynasty age of ancient China.  Goodman takes the Chinese calendar and uses the concept of the twelve animals to represent the energy dragons of the story. The empire and palace are quite like something one would find in the dynasty age of China, complete with a guarded harem, eunuchs and extravagant design. It is obvious a great deal of research went into this book but she finds a balance between description and plot movement.

Recommendation: I would recommend this book to older teens and young adults. There are some mature parts in the book that I know most moms wouldn’t want their 12-year-old reading. Also, given the length, older teens tend to have a slightly longer attention span. This is a great way to learn a little more about an ancient culture (of course much is fictional) and enjoy a great plot at the same time. Fans of Tamora Pierce and new readers alike will love this book. I can see myself reading more by Alison Goodman and going back to my favorites of Tamora Pierce.

*Note: This book is apparently known under three other names; Eon: Dragoneye Reborn; Eon: Rise of the Dragoneye and The Two Pearls of Wisdom

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Elizabethan England with a Magical Twist

Book Stats: Snow White and Rose Red

Author: Patricia Wrede

Age group: 15-17

Best place to buy: BarnesandNoble.com ($8.09)

Length: 288

Rating: 8 out of 10

Duh Duh Da! I read book number 4. Actually I finished it last week but this week is the week before finals, when all the big projects are due. I’ve been focusing on that, but now it’s crunch time because I still need to have 20 posts by next Thursday. Sorry, but next time we will be back to books I read before this semester until after finals when I will have time to read again. We’ll get through this together.

Summary: Snow White and Rose Red, written by Patricia Wrede, is another classic fairy-tale retold in an imaginative way. The widow and her two daughters live outside their village at the edge of the woods. The widow is an herbalist and she uses her daughters, Blanche and Rosamunde to gather the herbs.

Within the woods lies the border of Fairy, the magical world where fairies dwell.  The Fairy Queen’s two sons, John and Hugh, are half mortal but John feels more connection with the mortal world than Hugh. The daughters gather some herbs from Fairy for their special properties.

Two local wizards use All Hallows Eve to conduct a spell on fairy, affecting one of the fairy brothers. The other brother searches desperately for a cure for the spell that turned his brother into a bear and stole his fairy powers.

The Bear, forgetting his new form, comes to the door of the widow’s cabin. With their experience with Fairy, the widow and her daughters allow the strangely intelligent bear to spend the evenings in their home, warm while winter swarms outside.

The Widow reveals that she knows some witchcraft, the benevolent kind, spurring her and her daughters to work to find a cure for the bear themselves. They unknowingly pit themselves against the wizards who cast the original spell.

Finding a cure turns out to be too much for this humble witch and her daughters. They must face failure, unexpected collaborations and even fairy interference. Will they ever help the bear return to his original form and find their way to the fairy-tale ending? You will have to read it to find out.

Reasons for the Rating: This book was a good escape for me from homework into a land of fantasy. It was interesting to have this tale set in Elizabethan England, a time that usually reminds me of Shakespeare. Patricia Wrede definitely did her homework about the time period, even using period dialog.

The story is imaginative and detailed, down to the herbs used for the spells. That may be a hindrance in some ways, making the plot move slowly and taking more time to read. Once I edited a manuscript with a scene that included desert snakes in a pit. Little detail was given, yet when I verified the facts, the writer was right on. In other words, writers should do the research but they don’t have to share every little detail with the reader.

Outside of that flaw I enjoyed the book. I tend to enjoy Patricia Wrede and her writing style. We all go overboard sometimes, right? One small problem does not ruin a book. Besides, I might just be a bit impatient.

Recommendation: I would recommend this book to both young adult readers and even some older ones. I think everyone can enjoy a good fairy tale once and a while. So, go out, read a fairy tale, escape the world, and enjoy a happy ending. Maybe it will melt some of the stress away.