Twelve-year old Eon has been studying the ancient art of the Dragoneyes for two years. But he is playing a dangerous game: Eon is actually Eona, 16 years old and a girl. Her true identity must remain hidden at all costs: it is forbidden for women to practise the Art, and to be discovered would be punishable by death.
Let down by her injured leg, it seems that Eon is destined to fail in her quest, until a spectacular twist in events catapults her into the opulent but treacherous world of the Imperial court. Without a master to guide her, Eon must learn to harness her unprecedented natural power, while protecting the secret that could cost her everything . . .
Set against a rich backdrop of Ancient Chinese myths and traditions and fraught with tension, this is a classic page-turner.
Inspired by Asian culture, Goodman (Singing the Dogstar Blues) weaves a fantasy with contemporary themes about gender identity and female power. Because women are forbidden to study Dragon magic, 16-year-old Eona disguises herself as Eon, a 12-year-old boy, to compete to be an apprentice Dragoneye, a communicant with one of 12 energy dragons. Crippled years earlier, she is least likely to be chosen. But then the Mirror Dragon, mysteriously absent for 500 years, appears at the competition and selects Eona. Unable to share her secret even with her new friends, the soldier eunuch Ryko and Lady Dela, a "Contraire," or transgender courtier, Eona must confront the corrupt Lord Ido and save the empire from his schemes and discover how to invoke the power of the Mirror Dragon. Goodman's characters hold built-in appeal for fans of Tamora Pierce (particularly of her Song of the Lioness Quartet), but they go further than Pierce's in staking out their sexuality; the author's plotting is elaborate, smart and capable of taking the audience by surprise. Enthralled readers will be hard-pressed to wait for the story's second half, Eona:The Last Dragoneye, scheduled for 2010. Ages 12 up.