The Song of the Lioness series continues with Alanna and Coram in Maren, a country to the east of Tortall. Her purpose there is to find a friend of Myles’, who can translate a map she was given by the nameless woman who died in the last book. She discovers that the map points the way to the Roof of the World, where the Dominion Jewel is kept. The Dominion Jewel is a powerful object that only a true leader can wield. Alanna decides to embark on an adventure to claim the Dominion Jewel for Tortall to prove her worth as a lady-knight and to further fortify Tortall.
But before she begins this adventure, she meets a dragon. No, not one with pointy teeth and fiery breath but one just as deadly. She meets Liam, a member of the Shang warriors. He is called the Shang Dragon, “the best of the best,” and is lethal both with weapons and weaponless. Immediately Alanna is drawn to him and it’s lust at first sight. The Lioness and the Dragon engage in a stormy affair that’s short-lived due to their stark differences, stubbornness, and Liam’s fear of magic. After hearing of their plans, Liam decides to accompany Alanna and Coram to the Roof. Along the way, they meet Buri, a K’miri warrior, who accompanies Thayet, the exiled princess of Sarain. They both travel with children, fugitives of Sarain’s civil war.
I wanted something light and fun to read after The Great Gatsby and The Great Hunt. Something fantastical with a strong female protagonist. I considered returning to my first love, the Song of the Lioness quartet by Tamora Pierce, but I was tired of re-reading. I wanted to discover something new. As always, whenever I consider searching for a new book (meaning never yet read and not familiar with the author), trepidation overwhelms me and I cast around for reasons to remain in the comfort zone of those I’m familiar with. I love comfort. I hate disruption and surprises (most times). I like knowing what to expect. My greatest bibliophilic fear—reading a book I don’t like. I like to finish what I read but pushing through a story that I do not like is a torture that I would not inflict on anyone. Recently, I’ve started to come to terms with leaving a book half done if I can’t bear to continue with it. It’s great to step out of my comfort zone once in a while, though. Reading reviews of books, getting recommendations, and cover art help me to do so. Yes, cover art. Cover arts are tricksters. They pull you to the book and if they are really good, they trick you into believing that the story will be great as well. That’s what happened with Alison Goodman’s Eon. But the story was not horrid; it was good.
Eon is about a girl masquerading as boy so that she can train in the arts of dragon magic. Set in a culture similar to the Chinese, Eon must work to become apprentice to one of the eleven Dragoneyes (masters) that are connected to the dragons: Ox, Tiger, Rabbit, Dragon, Snake, Horse, Goat, Monkey, Rooster, Dog, Pig, Rat. There are twelve dragons, each for a particular cardinal point, but the Dragon dragon has not been seen for several years and is believed to have disappeared. There is no Dragoneye for the Dragon dragon. Only males are allowed to train to become an apprentice and gain the title of Dragoneye, hence Eon’s disguise as a boy. At the time when Eon decides to compete for the position of apprentice, the Rat dragon is in ascendant. This occurs at the beginning of the year and the Dragoneye connected to the ascending dragon will be most powerful for that entire year. As luck would have it, Eon is almost picked as apprentice for the Rat dragon but things do not go as planned and something unexpected occurs.