I picked up Eon this year at the book fair because I like dragons (loved Chris D’Lacey’s Last Dragon Chronicles), and because the cover (though not the one you see above) was intriguing. I’m a fan of Jackie Chan, Jet Li, kung fu movies, and between the image on the cover and the blurb on the back, I was intrigued.
Eon is a Dragoneye apprentice–he hopes to win the favor of the dragons (See the Chinese zodiac for each animal dragon) and help, essentially, save the Chinese empire from being overthrown by an evil, power-hungry general. The problem, however, is that Eon is actually Eona, a girl. And in a patriarchal society there aren’t female dragoneyes.
Besides the complex plot that follows the steps of the archetype of the hero journey quite nicely, I was most interested in the issue of gender as it played out in the novel. Not only was Eona passing as male, but there is an issue with another character who presents as the opposite gender. In a time when there is a call for more young adult literature that deals with transgendered issues, I liked how Eon dealt with transgenderedness–not forefronting the issue. Readers see both reactions to the character, from acceptance, to utter disgust.
My favorite statement in the entire novel was made by Lady Dela. In discussing the power of women, especially in a time period when women do not hold the same power as men, Lady Dela said to Eon, “‘You are wrong when you say there is no power in being a woman. When I think of my mother and the women in my tribe, and even the hidden women in the harem, I know there are many types of power in this world…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'” (p. 245). I’d offer up commentary, but I think Lady Dela’s words speak for themselves.