What an absolutely fantastic finish to this duology. My only complaint is that there aren't more books! This is probably one of the best books I've read all year, which is high praise considering it's competing agains books like The 5th Wave and Shadowfever.
I don't even know where to start. With the fantastic world-building, complex characters, interplay between ambition and doing what's right? Eona has it all and more. The world that Alison Goodman has created is a perfect blend of Asian mythology and culture, and her own touches. Every little detail was well-thought out and expanded upon. Background was seamlessly introduced throughout the novel, and not once did I find the Asian touches overwhelming. Goodman is a fantastic writer, whose prose was able to capture my attention and bring me to an entirely different world, where humans and dragons commune and political strife abounds.
The complexity of the characters deepens in this novel, particularly Eona's struggle with her growing power and ambition, and her desire to do what is right. She is far from perfect; in fact, some of her choices made me want to shake her and ask her what the hell she was doing! The love she feels for those she cares about is definitely a redeeming quality, though sometimes it is misplaced. The dichotomy between her duty to the Emperor and her lust and ambition for power made this an enchanting and complex read. And her supporting characters were extremely well-rounded. Lord Ido...oh dear. I had such high hopes for him! (view spoiler) Ido was honestly one of the most intriguing characters I've ever read about. His actions in every chapter make you change your mind about him, so you never really know where you stand. Not only does he play Eona, Kygo, and the rest of the characters, he also plays the reader, catching you in his web and continuing to win your loyalty through actions that seem helpful, but really serve another purpose. It's been so long since I've met a character like this! Kygo continued to be charming, though I didn't necessarily agree with some of his actions and decisions. At times I was so frustrated with him, I just wanted Eona to kick him to the side and un-proclaim her loyalty. But this is another way that Goodman layers the complexity with her characters. Kygo was not only representative of a just Emperor, he also demonstrated the heavy burden that enormous amounts of power can be when his actions were not so fair. Finally, Dela and Ryko were as amazing as ever! (view spoiler) I loved both of their relationships with Eona, which oscillated between loyal friendship and strained tolerance. Even Sethon, who remained a minor character for the majority of the novel, was well-thought out. His name made me shiver.
The twisting plot in this novel was also phenomenal. For literally the last quarter of the book, there were so many twists and turns I couldn't put it down. I don't mean that these twists were completely unexpected, it was more the fact that there were two possible paths to take, and you were entirely unsure of which one would be selected. I can honestly say that I didn't expect (view spoiler) But the background of the dragons and their links to the humans was wonderful, as was increased reference to Eona's ancestor. I loved every bit of it!
Some things I wish there was more of included Eona's relationship with her dragon, and her relationship with her mother. Honestly, I didn't see a reason for her dragon to (view spoiler), when they hadn't really forged a strong bond. And I didn't feel like Eona's relationship with her mother was complex enough either. I would have liked to have seen a lot more plot points about them. Her mother could have played an even bigger role in deciphering her ancestors' thoughts and the background of her story. But these were minor complaints that didn't really affect my enjoyment of the story.
Overall, some of the best high fantasy I've read in a long time. Go start reading now!