My rating: 4 of 5 stars
Warning: Spoilers ahead!
To refresh my memory and yours, in this book, Eona is (finally!) acknowledged as a girl. Not only that, Kygo invites her to take up the post of the King’s right hand and advisor, his Naiso. (Which just makes me think of miso soup.) She then proceeds to have a like-but-not-love relationship with Kygo and after rescuing him, a love-hate relationship with Ido. Ryko trusts her less and less, (not that I blame him) especially after she heals him and inadvertently ends up being able to compel him. Dela hasn’t changed very much, still being devoted to Ryko and the greater good, still the most awesome person by far. There is a new character here, Vida who is Master Tozay’s daughter and spits acid at Eona at any available opportunity (not that I blame her either.)
Remember how I said I hoped the sequel would be better than the first book? Well…it isn’t, not that much.
The plot, for 3/4ths of the book, seems to consist of travelling someplace, doing something reckless, getting hurt and feeling more desperate, then repeat from beginning. Note, this is not a bad novel in anyway, just not as fantastic as I was hoping it would be. Maybe I’ve become a jaded cynic already?
The central theme is interesting (somewhat like Siege and Storm) – it revolves around morality and power. The question everyone keeps asking each other (while contradicting themselves) is – what lines will you cross for power, even if it is for the greater good? Where are these lines? Is it wrong to be ambitious? Where do you stop? And finally, what is power worth ?
Eona cannot help glorying in her power and she often forgets that she has it. She both empathises with others and remains insensitive to their feelings. She does not have very high self esteem, yet she forgets her humble origins. She really is a study in contradictions. I have no clue what the men see in her that wasn’t there before, but the change in the way Kygo and Ido treat Eona is an excellent representation of how ingrained the ideas of gender and sex are. She does not develop any new feminine qualities or shed any masculine ones, yet simply because they know she is female, they treat her differently.
And that brings me to Lady Dela, the Contraire. She is, and will always be, my favourite character in the book. She has a great deal of intelligence but is not afraid of emotion the way Eona is. She doesn’t hide her affection of Ryko (nor is she two-timing any one) but she will do what is necessary when it’s needed. Dela is the best example of being true to yourself. You go girl!
Kygo and Ido, I have to talk about together, because they are essentially two sides of the same coin. Kygo is what Ido would be with a heart and Ido is what Kygo would be with a brain. But then men are rarely endowed with every good quality, unlike (cough, cough) women. Most of the time my reaction to Kygo’s IQ (and sometimes Eona’s) was:
The art of deduction is completely lost on the characters of this book.
Ido is far better intellectually, but I genuinely didn’t give a damn about him. Even though he has his tender moments, I find him very transparent as an antagonist. Never trust a snake like him. So, when he got BBQed in the end I was like:
There far too much subterfuge, evasions, lying, mistrust and angst for my taste. It’s not overdone or anything, but I felt like it took precedence, sometimes to the extent of becoming the plot itself, instead of being a tool for character development. After a point I was so frustrated, I went:
Ok, so that might be an overreaction. This is natural result of the stressful situation they are in and it’s very easy to say stuff in retrospect. Also, Eona and Kygo are both young and inexperienced (however much they pretend otherwise) so this is extremely realistic in a sense. I also have to add that their pairing is something else I was “meh” about, ’cause God forbid that a relationship between a guy and a girl be anything other than romantic. (Eye roll.)
So I took refuge in the dragons. Only they are all in mourning (not because of the sad state of the romance, no), so they spend most of their collective time wailing, being invisible, attacking Eona and generally not being helpful. Damn, there goes my favourite part of the book. Still, Eona gets to do some pretty awesome dragon-powered things in the book, so I won’t complain. You have to love a gal who can throw lightning, heal people and fight with swords like a pro.
One truly good thing about this book was Eona’s developing sense of humour. She out-and-out teases Kygo, which is way better than trying to become one with the floor, as she did earlier. I also find her relationship with Ryko interesting – he’s proof that Eona is not a special snowflake automatically loved and forgiven by everyone. At the same time, he is a constant reminder of the consequences of Eona’s power. So yes, definitely a point in the book’s favour.
I do not however, appreciate Eona’s relationship with her mother. You meet the person who gave birth to you after 10 years, and the first thing you do is ask her about a riddle you’ve been dying to solve? And then promptly ignore her for the rest of the book, while criticising her life choices without trying to empathise at all. Oh yeah. I understand that she resents her mother’s willingness to give her away etc etc, but the subtext here is that the mother Lillia, serves a deus ex machina sort of function, arriving only to deliver the riddle to her and disappearing into the background afterwards.
Again, none of this means that Eona: The Last Dragoneye isn’t worth 4 stars. It is, but these things are what detracted from it and kept it from 5 stars. There is definitely a great deal of action and adventure here, thanks to great pacing, a lot of thought provoking questions about identity, gender and power and of course, magic and mystery. A must-read for those who don’t mind digesting books slowly and thoughtfully, while enjoying cinematic imagery.