Eona  - Alison Goodman "Do not let all this power cloud your spirit, Eona."

Eona has fled Sethon's sword, but she is far from safe. She must find Prince Kygo, the true Emperor, and rescue Lord Ido, if she is to ever have any control on her power. Along with Ryko and Dela, Eona forges ahead and begins to struggle with the power growing within her.

After finishing the excellent Eon: Dragoneye Reborn, I jumped right into "Eona", excited to see how the book ended. I was kinda hoping that, despite the 600+ pages, this would fly by. As things often are with books, "Eona" wasn't exactly what I expected, in both a good and a bad way.

One of the things I loved was Eona and her struggle with power. The last book, a lot of the character arc was focused on Eona overcoming her handicap and coming to grips with her feminine side. With her handicap healed and Eona now walking as a woman, a lot of that conflict is gone. You might think that her character would be boring; instead, Goodman creates a new conflict for Eona: what to do with her developing power. I can't really detail a whole lot on this struggle, as it is rife with spoilers, but it was VERY interesting and pushed Eona's character into new arenas.

Dela, Ryko, Kygo, Ido, and a few others (namely, Tozay) all return and are as wonderful as ever. Dela continues to be a sounding board and guide to Eona, but I liked how she did occasionally think selfishly. Something HUGE happens to Ryko in this book, which is probably super-spoilery, so I won't divulge anything other than: Good move, Goodman! Brilliant move! The beginning focuses on finding Kygo. When Eona does, I am rather impressed with how Goodman paints Kygo: not as a perfect man, but as mourning, flawed, power-hungry at times. And Ido reappears and is CONSTANTLY making things difficult.

There were some new characters, but I didn't feel they particularly stood out. One character I thought would have more of an impact did not and that saddened me. Vida was also an interesting character, but I have no clue what happened to her at the end (along with many, many other characters!).

Now, one of the things that I didn't particularly care for was the Romantic Triangle. In the last book, there was no romance whatsoever and it was done brilliantly. So when not just one suitor, but TWO appeared, I wasn't so happy. It felt to me that Kygo and Eona have barely any time to lead up to their "I love you" moment. He reappears and then, boom, they are an item. While I did like how their romance was challenged by differing rank--him being Emperor, her being Dragoneye--I wished more time had been spent on them going to the kissing stage. As for Ido, I was slightly skeeved out, because he had somewhat sexually assaulted her in the last book. But the heady passion Ido and Eona have to each other feels more like a sexual experience than an actual romance, and it did grow on me somewhat. I will admit, that the two suitors here both have flaws and actually seem to represent two VERY DIFFERENT paths that Eona could take for her life. So both those qualities definitely make this one of the few tolerable Romantic Triangles I've ever read.

As she did with "Eon", Goodman took the story to new places. You might think this is just a "storm the castle" book, but there is a LOT more that happens in it. In fact, that is probably WHY I didn't start to really like the book until the last 200 pages. There is so much going on--so much traveling, rescuing, training, contemplating, sparring, etc.--that it honestly bored me and made me want to read other things. I kept wondering, "Did I really need to read X in order to get to here?" However, Goodman had a solid climax and an inventive ending that redeemed this book. Though there really is no "conclusion" to this book. It just stops. What happened to Vida, Rilla, Chart, and Eona's mom? Why bring up Eona's mom when so little of the book surrounds her? What about the other Dragoneye candidates--particularly the one that Ido had pulled aside in the last book? What happened to the other serving staff of Eona's master? Is Chart dead like Ryko when Eona freed herself from Sethon's blood power? How do the people take not having Dragoneyes or Dragons to ward off bad weather and earthquakes and the like?

Please note: this book has a fair share of gore and violence. There are a lot of sword fights, and Goodman pulls no punches: her characters often end up with more than just a bruise or a papercut.

I am glad to have finished this book, not only to be done with it, but also because it ended up being a good book. Kudos to Goodman, for not relying on overused cliches, for inventing a new world based on something other than standard fantasy tropes, and for giving us TWO books (instead of the seemingly standard Trilogy or Never-Ending Series) with a solid female protagonist. If you like fantasy and strong females, definitely check this out.