Eon & Eona - the Dragoneye Reborn duology
Every year one or more of the twelve dragons of good fortune choose an apprentice dragoneye to serve them. Boys study the dragon magic, a combination of sword forms spellwork, for years hoping to be chosen. Eon has trained for years but in the standing before the dragons she risks her life because imperial law says that any woman using dragon magic will be put to death. She is literally handicapped in achieving her dream because Dragon Magic is heavily dependent on stylized sword work. The ceremony begins with the appearance of eleven spirit dragons but only Eon thinks she sees movement where the twelfth dragon once stood. The Mirror Dragon hasn't been seen in countless years and is nearly forgotten. Eon is stuck performing one of the most difficult of the Dragoneye sword forms and is certain that she failed to attract the dragons. But on the point of dismissal the Mirror Dragon appears briefly signaling its choice of Eon, then quickly fades away. In that brief contact Eon hears her true name, Eona, and discovers something long forgotten. The Mirror Dragon is female.
Unfortunately, this revelation only complicates Eon's status as a Dragoneye. The court isn't sure if she is apprentice or the Dragoneye itself since their is no senior Dragoneye to teach her. Nor does anyone remember the rituals specific to the Mirror Dragon. Worst of all, if the scholars do find scrolls about the Mirror Dragon they may realize that only women are chosen which would be a death sentence. Then her first attempts to use dragon magic go poorly because Eon doesn't know how to be a girl. As if Eon isn't struggling enough, only a couple of days later there is a palace coup and the other Dragoneyes and their apprentices are all killed. Eona is desperately needed as the last Dragoneye but quickly finds different palace factions trying to make use of her and one knows her secret and blackmails her to support him. But Eona is little help to any side because she finds herself channeling all twelve dragons whenever she attempts magic and none of them are sane anymore. She must escape her blackmailer, find the young Pearl Emperor, and figure out how to work with her magic to save him from corrupt politicians and an invading army.
Eon and Eona are a young adult fantasy duology with an Asian style background and strong feminist theme. As a teenager Eona struggles to find herself and battles self doubt, probably what classifies it as a young adult series. Its hard to go wrong with dragons, swords, magic, and good writing so plenty of adults will also enjoy it. The books aren't extraordinary but a solid four stars. Like many books the Asian setting is well done but I feel that the attention to minor characters really gave the world that fully layered effect.
Nancy Wu narrates both books and most reviews seemed to like her performance. Those who didn't hated the story in general so I doubt they would have liked any narrator. As for Alison Goodman she moved on to a regency romance series with fantasy elements where I couldn't get past the first book.