Tuesday, March 28, 2017

Duty Heart Power

Hola Readers, I've just come off of 60 hours straight so if today's rambling is a wee bit incoherent...well let's blame it on that shall we?  Today I'm gonna ramble about Eona by Alison Goodman.  This is the sequel to the amazing and awesome Eon, which I absolutely loved.  In fact I had to run out buy and read the sequel ignoring my already overwhelming TBR pile.  How did the second book stack up?  Let's find out, but first, as always SPOILERS AHEAD!
We catch up with our favorite Dragoneye Eona as she is on the run from Sethon, the usurper Emperor.  She is with the Contraire Dela and her body guard Ryko.  Ryko was brutally injured in the previous book and at the behest of Dela, Eona tries to use her dragon power to heal him.  While in the dragon realm, Eona is attacked by the bereaved dragons of the other 10 slaughtered Dragoneyes. The attacking dragon are held off by unexpected help from Ido, the only other Dragoneye and his Rat Dragon.  Eona manages to heal Ryko, but the dragon battle that ensued, destroyed the village, killing many innocent people.  The other consequence of the healing is that Eona now has a connection to Ryko allowing her to use and control him.  There is a bunch of traveling and sneaking and Ryko being understandably pissed.  The group finally meets up with the young, true Emperor Kygo.  Eona and Kygo share a moment and Eona discovers that she has an insatiable urge to rip the Imperial Pearl from Kygo's throat...which would kill him.  More traveling and the group meets up with various resistance groups and Kygo makes Eona his Naiso, which essentially is the only person allowed to treat the Emperor like a human.  The Naiso is expected to speak hard truths to the Emperor without fear of reprisal.  Kygo is injured and Eona assists the physician in healing him using non-dragon power medicine.  Eona is summoned and in a very disturbing scene is forced to control Ryko to prove that she did not use her healing/control powers on Kygo.  Eona is upset that Kygo did not trust her word and one of the first of many lover vs tool fights takes place.  Eona and Kygo both have a hard time balancing their personal feelings vs their duty to the country.  Meanwhile Eona convinces Kygo that they need to rescue Ido from Sethon as he is the only person who can train her to use her powers. The rescue happens and Eona's training begins.  Since she used her power to heal him, Eona can control Ido, but has to use a more sensual compulsion that leads to some confusing feelings.  The group continues to travel and Eona is reunited with a mother she hasn't seen since she was sold at the age of six.  All through out this, Dela has been working on decoding the red folio that was left 500 years ago by Eona's ancesteor and the last Mirror Dragoneye, Kinra.  Eona knows just from the rage filled swords that Kinra had a huge part in why the Mirror Dragon disappeared. We discover that Kinra was the lover of the Emperor, but really loved the Rat Dragoneye.  We also find out that she was executed as a traitor for trying to rip out the Imperial Pearl from the Emperor's throat.  Eona uses her compulsion of Ido to bring the black folio and the binding power it contains to her.  She gives it Kygo as a huge sign of trust as the folio can use royal blood to bind the Dragoneye's power.  Kygo is greatful and it seems the two lovebirds are starting to figure stuff out. Eventually enough of the folio's are decoded for Eona to finally discover the truth of the dragons.  It seems that the Imperial Pearl is actually the egg of renewal that the dragons need to regenerate.  The original Dragoneyes stole it and bound the dragons with it.  Kinra learned the truth and tried to free them and was executed for her trouble.   Unfortunatly, Eona is taken prisoner by Sethon after they are betrayed by Kygo's trusted general.  Sethon uses his blood to bind Eona, and cause Kygo, Ido, Dela and Ryko to be captured. Sethon removes Kygo's pearl, leaving him to bleed out.  Eona uses the distraction of the pain of sewing the pearl into his throat to break free of Sethon's control.  Ryko gives his life so that Eona can take down Sethon.  Sethon is killed and Kygo is healed by Eona.  She then goes to give the pearl to the dragons so that they can regenerate and be free.  Ido however is not so into giving up the power and tries to get Eona to instead bind the dragons with the black folio for the ultimate power.  She refuses and Ido morally wounds Kygo, making her choose to either free the dragons and lose Kygo, the love of her life or to bind the dragons with him for the ultimate power and save Kygo.  After a moment of angst, she chooses to free the dragons.  Ido is killed and Kygo is looking to be in pretty bad shape.  The dragons go through a pretty cool renewal ritual and the young reborn dragons leave the Empire.  The new Mirror Dragon however seems to retain some memory of Eona and her gift of freedom and heals Kygo before leaving.  Kygo and Eona head home to clean up the pieces of the broken and now dragonless Empire.  Whew that was really long and not even remotely close to everything that happened...but you get the gist.
World Building - This book continued on the world building of the first book.  In this book we leave the city and the palace and move into the poorer outlying areas of the Empire.  We get to learn more customs, beliefs and other tidbits that continue to make this world feel very complete.  I appreciated the level of detailed that was very artfully slipped into almost every encounter, giving us an even more complete picture of the world this book is set in.  I found that although the main theme of the world is an Asian style medieval type world, that the author definitely incorporated some very original and varied pieces to differentiate this world from a carbon copy of any real country.

Story - Compared to the last book, I felt that this story was a little bit slow/cluttered.  I felt like we focused a lot more on Eona and her feelings and angst instead of the story as a whole.  There was a lot of traveling, a lot of introspection and a lot of things that felt repetitive.  I also wanted to get to the story of Kinra a lot sooner, I felt that knowing more would have given the story a bit more direction.  That being said this book did deliver on the previous books premise AND the story actually wrapped up in a very coherent way.  I'm not sure if I am sad or happy about the dragons leaving.  One one hand, it's pretty gutsy to so definitively end the books with the removal of the main conceit of the books...on the other hand no more dragons WAHHHH!  Overall not as compelling as the first story, but still well done.

Character - The development of characters in this book was vastly different then in the first book.  In the last book it was all about finding yourself and being true to yourself.  In this book it seemed to be more about how people responded to different situations.  Unfortunately I found myself liking some of the previous characters less in this book then in the last one.  We did meet a couple new characters that added some depth to the group and for the most part the characters stayed true to the way they were written.  Nobody really did anything out of character just for plot development, and every character had motivation, a story and presence so good job on the characters.

Editing - Editing was well done.  Again as with the last book multiple story lines were abundant, yet meshed together in a wholly readable way.  This book may have been a tad too long, a bit of paring down on some of the introspection and the repetitiveness would have been welcome, but overall very readable, very understandable good job.

Duty, Heart, Power - Along with being the title of this post, I feel like a lot of what was going on in this book was people trying to make choices based on these three things.  Eona especially spent a lot of time in the book trying to walk the line between these three.  She felt a duty to her country, her family and friends and her dragon...but sometimes these various duties did not align and doing her duty to one would make it impossible to do her duty to another.  She was constantly tempted with power, while at the same time being used, or people trying to use her to gain their own power.  Finally she had to try and learn when to listen to her own needs, what her heart wanted and weather or not it was compatible with her duty or her need.  Pretty much any time characters interacted with each other one or more of these three things came into play, and the choices that were made were based on what each character choose to make important.  Ido was constantly seeking power and most of his choices were skewed by this view point.  Dela and Ryko clashed constantly as Dela want to follow her heart, yet Ryko insisted on putting duty first...even if it hurt Dela.  Eona and Kygo were constantly struggling with all three as they both wanted/needed power to accomplish their goals, were in love with each other, but understood that their duty to everything else needed to come first.

Love Triangle - This book brought us the dreaded love triangle.  In some ways the triangle at least made sense.  Eona was the only person that Kygo felt was on his level and the trauma of their experiences together made them a natural pair.  Eona's control of Ido brought her into very intimate contact with him on many levels, coupled with the fact that he represented something very different from Kygo also made sense.  Unfortunately it came off a little juvenile for my taste.  Considering everything that was going on and everything that was at stake, a lot of Eona's angst came from dwelling on all the little stupid stuff.  Her musings about Kygo especially drove me nuts as she would dwell on the tiniest little things...It is actually pretty accurate for how it goes down in real life, but reading about it was kind of obnoxious...especially when there was so much other info I wanted.  It's not that the romance was a bad thing...I just wanted a little less of it.

Kinra - I both loved and hated the Kinra aspect of this book.  We were set up a bit for it in the first book when we learned that Eona's ancestor was the last Mirror Dragoneye, that she imbibed her swords with her anger and then wrote the red folio.  I assumed that she had something to do with the disappearance of the Mirror dragon, but was both pleasantly surprised and a bit eyerolly at how it all came out.  Her discovery of how the dragons came to be enslaved and her decision to try and free them at the cost of her own life was pretty awesome.  The convenience of her being Eona's ancestor and the way she could speak to and through her was a bit to pat for my taste.  Also I think the way things were revealed was frustrating, a bit here, a flash here.  I am still not sure how she influenced Eona even when she wasn't touching her belongings.  I'm also not sure why they didn't find a new Mirror Dragoneye, or how that type of history was forgotten but...yeah.

Overall Impression - I definatly liked the first book better then this one.  However this was still a good book.  It was a fair continuation of the first book, it answered most of the questions posed in the first one and the quality of world and characters remained high.  I have a feeling I would have liked this book even more if I didn't have the near perfection of the first one to compare it too.  I give it 7 out of 10 death plaques and recommend it to everybody who has already read the first book. I am vibing this author and will be picking up some of her other stuff to read. Oh yeah, also not as into the cover of this book as much as the last one, a bit to hip/modern teen looking for my taste. Happy Reading Everybody!

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