Eon: Dragoneye Reborn is the story of a girl (Eona) who has to pretend to be a boy (Eon) in order to reach her potential as a Dragoneye--one of the wielders of the dragon power. To allow females into the arena of the dragons would be unthinkable.
As Lord Eon, Eona will form a symbiotic relationship (of not a friendship) with the realm's prince. The politics run hot--the emperor's brother makes no secret of his intent to overtake his brother's role (or nephew's, as the case may be) and the Ascendant Dragon (leader of the Dragoneyes) has his own vicious ambitions, which he puts above all else.
And poor Eon/Eona is just a girl pretending to be a boy, trying to become as much like a boy as she can, to quash everything feminine about herself. But pretending to be a boy only intensifies all the insecurities Eona would have felt as a young woman if she'd been allowed to be one. On top of all her doubt of her skills and her true nature, and how much she's actually faking everything, if she's found out, she (and everyone who may or may not have known about this secret) will be killed. And yet she still manages to be a strong female character. Yes, it's very Mulan-esque--the real story, not the Disnification of it.
And Eona's isn't quite the only gender delineation being smudged. Though most of the gender roles in this book are very 18th-century traditional, there is Lady Dela, a transgendered member of the emperor's court (a Contraire, a twin soul) who not only encourages a broadening of readers' minds (you can't help but like her) but provides Eon with a new perspective of gender.
I really liked this book. In spite of how predictable most of it was, I held my breath, I trembled in anticipation and anxiety, and I stopped reading for almost a whole day because I wasn't ready to be done.
Just to clear up any potential confusion if you go in search of this book, it's actually been published under three titles, depending on who published it: Eon: Dragoneye Reborn, The Two Pearls of Wisdom, and Eon: Rise of the Dragoneye. It's also been published in French. And they all have fabulous book covers.
These are all the same book--just so you don't accidentally buy your niece or daughter (or self) two or three different titles because you think they're different books.
I'm waiting to hear about a release date for the sequel.