Wednesday, September 10, 2008

The Two Pearls of Wisdom, Alison Goodman


Under the harsh regime of an ambitious master, Eon is training to become a Dragoneye – a powerful Lord able to command wind and water to protect the land. But Eon also harbours a desperate secret – he is in fact Eona, a young woman living a dangerous masquerade that, if discovered, will mean certain death.Brought to the attention of the Emperor himself and summoned to the opulent court, Eon is thrust into the heart of a lethal struggle for the Imperial throne.

In this new, treacherous world of hidden identities and uneasy alliances, Eon comes face-to-face with a vicious enemy who covets the young Dragoneye’s astounding power, and will stop at nothing to make it his own.The Two Pearls of Wisdom is based on the ancient lores of Chinese astrology and Feng Shui. It is a thrilling, timeless novel of deadly politics, sexual intrigue and dazzling swordplay set in a brilliantly envisioned world where both appearances and loyalties can prove so very deceptive…

There are times when you pick up a book and you are hesitant as the concept described on the back seems a bit overwhelming and you can’t help but think that maybe the author’s not going to be successful in pulling off this epic story.

Then you start reading it and you are completely and utterly at a loss for words and all you want to do is squeal. Because it is just that amazingly good.

As I mentioned elsewhere I am a huge fan of the kung fu genre. I am also a dedicated fan of Lian Hearn and was therefore really pleased to see that Two Pearls of Wisdom is recommended for fans of Lian’s work.

The Two Pearls of Wisdom follows Eon as a young trainee in a quest to become a Dragoneye, someone who can work closely with the Ascending Dragon in order to help command wind and water to protect the land.

Eon has a secret – she is in fact a girl. And it could mean her death and the death of her master if she is found out. She is also a cripple, her hip had been damaged years ago in an accident, yet Eon manages to overcome this disability by hard work, doing her best not to let it rule her life.
I don’t want to ruin the story, by dropping plot spoilers, so I’ll do the same as above where it says she comes to the attention of the Emperor and the young Heir.

They hurry to make an alliance with Eon as her powers can benefit the Throne tremendously. Naturally there are factions, things are on the cusp of blowing up as the Emperor’s brother, tries to seize power for himself, whilst another highborn noble, Lord Ido, wants the same thing, but they aren’t working together, which makes for interesting reading.

Eon becomes a pawn in a game of political intrigue and has to step into her role of Dragoneye without the benefit of proper training. She is unique in her chosen role and in her ability to see all the dragons – most of the time, a Dragoneye can only see the dragon to which it is bonded to.

The antagonist in the story, Lord Ido, is wonderfully portrayed as a scheming, charming man, prone to fits of incredible rage. The first glimpse of him had me thinking: Eon stands no chance. I am looking forward to see how he develops in the next book as there was a definite twist at the end of The Two Pearls of Wisdom which took me by surprise, insofar as his character went.

The story is littered with beautiful imagery and it is easy to imagine the setting and the courtly way of life.

Eon’s character is finely drawn, throwing in a bit of Mulan (the deception), to the magic and mystery of the heroines from great films like CTHD, Hero and House of Flying Daggers. The author, Alison Goodman, takes her time to establish Eon in our mindseye. She uses vivid settings and interaction with other minor characters to show off Eon’s abilities, her fears and insecurities.

If you think you might be put off by a massive cast of characters, allow me to allay your fears. Here we deal with a small handful of characters, all very well drawn, set on a path to either help or hinder Eon.

The Two Pearls of Wisdom is a fantastic read with an engaging main character, a strongly imagined setting which draws on elements of martial arts, feng shui and political intrigue that has you tearing through the book at a very rapid pace. The second book, the conclusion to The Two Pearls of Wisdom should be published in the near future. Watch this space!

Alison Goodman’s site can be found here and the Fantasy Book Critic is running a competition, which ends tomorrow, 11th September – this is the link to the comp. The book is published by Transworld and should be for sale tomorrow at all good bookstores and online. The author will also be touring in October, so do visit Transworld's site if you would like to meet her.

1 comment:

Rebecca said...

i loved this book