Eona – Alison Goodman
M: Annie and I are back for more EON/EONA talk. If you missed the first part, catch up here: EON review. Are you back? Oh, good! Let's continue. *Warning: possible spoilers ahead.* When we last left her, Eona (now Lady Eona) was 'out' as a woman and the entire nation was up in arms. Wars, battles, mutinies, political coups - you name it. Having escaped the palace, Prince Kygo must fight his uncle (with the help of the resistance, which includes Lady Dela and Ryko) for the right to be Emperor once again. Lady Eona is saddled with a mass of new duties that she is not prepared for, the biggest of which is being a symbol for the resistance. Not to mention her growing feelings for Prince Kygo, which are not at all PG (oh, yes, pages were re-read a couple of times).
I was so (so) very happy that I didn't have to wait a year to read this sequel. As soon as I finished EON I reached over and started EONA, so I just slipped into the story once again - so much so that I'm having difficulty recalling what happened in book one versus book two (as I just remember everything as one long, cohesive story).
So let's start with a few things I was really happy to see. First off, Lord Ido. Wait, what? I was happy to see Lord Ido? Wasn't he the bad guy??? Be quiet. Yes he was. Now hear me out. Lord Ido is a very interesting character to keep. Really he should be dead, but that would mean spending the entire second book introducing a new villain. And although Lord Sethon is not a new villain per say, he is not as well developed; and we don't know/hate him as we do Ido. By keeping Lord Ido, Goodman uses him to expand on the villainy of Lord Sethon. Not to mention that by keeping Lord Ido, Goodman showed him in a whole new light. At moments I as a reader felt swayed by his words and his actions. I was right there with Eona in her confusion and apprehension. And I was a bit intrigued by his actions. Very well done. Annie?
A: At least one of us didn’t have to wait forever to read it! Anyways, the second book really does start right up from where the last one ended (probably because the last book ended on a cliffhanger moment. Sigh – authors kill me when they do that). So if it has been some time since you read the first one, you might want to read at least the last couple of chapters of EON again. I know I had a few issues getting back into the story – not because it was poorly written, but because I was trying to remember everything that had happened as I got thrown back in the action. There’s none of that jaunty lead-up that some books have to recap all the previous events.
I definitely didn’t think Lord Ido is quite the same character in EONA as he was in EON. He is much more compelling in this novel – his development, as you said, provides a whole new meaning to his actions. It makes him less a villain and provides Eona an alternate path for resolution, which definitely added a good amount of sexual tension that also acted as a tool for Eona’s self-awareness. And you’re right: Sethon is actually a pretty weak character and wouldn’t work at all without Ido there. There just isn’t much to him other than as a catalyst for Eona to develop her relationships and understand herself and, with that, her dragon. You need to hate Sethon for what he’s done and what he is doing, but you need complexity in the plot (which Goodman provides in heaps) so that it doesn’t just feel like it’s something you’ve read before.
Eona is being pulled all over the place in order the deal with Sethon’s conquering, the madness of a former apprentice, the dangerous passion for Ido, her actual feelings for Kygo, and the repercussions of hew newfound powers (which by the way only covers a few of the plot points).
I have to say, I really enjoyed the path Goodman takes in dealing with Eona’s powers. Her abilities based on her dragon link offer some great storylines regarding responsibility and identity. She has to struggle both with her control of it as well as the ethical challenges brought on by need and desire. Eona doesn’t initially realize the consequences of what she’s done with her power and the compulsion she’s imposed on people. Once she does, she still has to recognize what that means to her and comprehend the heart of the situation. Just as she does with steamier parts of her life.
M: Exactly, Annie. Eona is under so much pressure that as a reader you start to feel it as well. I think it's a testament to how well Goodman develops her heroine that even when she's made mistakes we (or at least I) feel the need to defend her. I haven't felt a connection like that to a character since Buffy from BUFFY THE VAMPIRE SLAYER (remember that last season where no one trusted her or wanted her as a leader? That killed me! But I digress). All I could think whenever she was questioned was, "After all that's she's gone through? All she's done? How could you not understand?"
As I was nearing the last few pages I worried that there wasn't enough time for a resolution, but I must say I was very happy with where Goodman left it. It felt the natural place to end the journey for the reader. What did you think, Annie?
A: Absolutely. I don't think she could have left the ending on a higher note. So, yes - perfect place to end it. All the meaningful loose ends were tied up nicely, and she still left me craving just a little bit more of that world. But I was happy with where things were - which is always a nice feeling to have when you finish a book. I'm definitely curious to see what Goodman will do next. But until then I'm glad I’ve had the pleasure of escaping into this world for a bit