The Two Pearls Of Wisdom / Eon - Alison Goodman

Adult cover

Young Adult cover

Summary from Amazon:
Under the harsh regime of an ambitious master, candidate Eon is training to become a Dragoneye – a powerful Lord able to master wind and water to protect the land. But Eon also harbours a desperate secret… Eon is, in fact, Eona, a young woman who has endured years of disguise as a boy for the chance to practice the Dragoneye’s Art. In a world where women are only hidden wives or servants, Eona’s dangerous deception is punishable by death. Still in disguise, Eona’s unprecedented talent thrusts her into the centre of a lethal struggle for the Imperial throne. Summoned by the Emperor to the opulent and treacherous Court, Eona must learn to trust her power and find the strength to face a vicious enemy who would seize her magic . . . and her life. Inspired by ancient Chinese lore and sharing the wonders of films such as Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon, this thrilling novel is set in a brilliantly envisioned world where both appearances and loyalties can prove so very deceptive…


This book is like a punch in the gut. Beautifully written and brilliantly crafted, the book tells the tale of young crippled* Eon who hides his identity as a woman to be able to become a Dragoneye. Only men are allowed to be candidates but Eon (Eona) is the most brilliant of all. Not only can Eon feel the dragons and control his Hua the best (energy), but he is the only one who can see all of the dragons as if they were physical beings. 

The plot has the appearance of a coming-of-age adventure of a poor humble child who goes on to save an empire but has in fact strong political and social themes as well as a humanistic approach. Eona's fight and her obligation to transform as a boy in order to have a life is the fight of all women in this world. But the story doesn't only centre on man/woman struggles. The story shows the poverty in some regions of the Empire and the cases of slavery for some people as well as the fight of the less able-bodied (Eona has a crippled leg and her friend Chart has communication issues) to be recognised as proper human beings and not as inferior beings/animals/creatures of the devil.

Eon/Eona is a truly fascinating character. Eon is constantly struggling to bury Eona deeper each day and try to show the world that a cripple can do all these things. Eon's ambition has no end and he will do all it takes to get there. Eon also has a heart and he is generous with people, especially when they don't only see the crippled leg.
All the other characters are multi-layered and have their own private struggle to deal with. I really liked the diversity of characters and loved characters like Lady Della, Chart and Eon who would show that sometimes the outside isn't what is really on the inside. I've always thought that fantasy was a way to talk about reality in other words and I find the characters very realistic and bringing very contemporary themes.

The setting of the story is breathtaking. From the places to the traditions and the organisation of society, Alison Goodman creates a thoroughly and meticulously described painting of Eon's world. The Chinese and Japanese influences are visible but they are masterfully woven with an original fantasy world. The Two Pearls Of Wisdom is one of the most interesting effort to set a fantasy world in an Oriental-inspired world. The cultural aspect is very rich and the whole Empire, with its set of tradition and beliefs is simply flawless. The dragons and the Hua are truly fascinating and the book is a fantastic addition to the genre (as of 2009 of course :) ).

I am literally in love with this book and can't wait to dive into the second book, The Necklace Of The Gods. If you are a fan of fantasy, the originality of the story and the incredible writing and plot will amaze you. Non-fantasy fans may like the writing, the characters and the strong ideas beneath the story. Go read it!

* The word "cripple" has a pejorative sense but is widely used in the book.

The Two Pearls Of Wisdom / Eon | Alison Goodman | 2009 | Bought and read on my kindle

1 comment:

  1. This sounds like a really good read, and I can imagine that the chinese and japanese influence add a really different but beautiful element!

    I think I prefer the YA cover myself - not sure what that says about me.

    Will definitely add this to my to read list!