Snapshot Review: Jade War by Fonda Lee

Title: Jade War
Author: Fonda Lee
Series: The Green Bone Saga, #2
Pages: 590
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: July 23rd 2019

TW: suicide, graphic violence, racism, mentions of rape and homophobia.

      “In Jade War, the sequel to the World Fantasy Award-winning novel Jade City, the Kaul siblings battle rival clans for honor and control over an Asia-inspired fantasy metropolis.
      On the island of Kekon, the Kaul family is locked in a violent feud for control of the capital city and the supply of magical jade that endows trained Green Bone warriors with supernatural powers they alone have possessed for hundreds of years.
      Beyond Kekon’s borders, war is brewing. Powerful foreign governments and mercenary criminal kingpins alike turn their eyes on the island nation. Jade, Kekon’s most prized resource, could make them rich – or give them the edge they’d need to topple their rivals.
      Faced with threats on all sides, the Kaul family is forced to form new and dangerous alliances, confront enemies in the darkest streets and the tallest office towers, and put honor aside in order to do whatever it takes to ensure their own survival – and that of all the Green Bones of Kekon.
      Jade War is the second book of the Green Bone Saga, an epic trilogy about family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of blood and jade.”

  • The details – It’s hard not to appreciate how much detail Fonda Lee puts into her world. Everything is so well-thought out from the politics of this world to its economics. Kekon feels like a real place. As Lee opens up her world a little more to include international relations, this county feels a little smaller as it is not only its citizens but the countries that surround it that affect Kekon.
  • Sibling relationships – One of my favorite things about the previous book was the often messy and complicated relationships between siblings. We see this continue with Hilo and Shae and how their relationship has evolved. Of the three Kaul siblings, they are the pairing who naturally are at odds with one another. Both have to navigate positions they never thought they would have to take on and together they have to make decisions that not only affect them as individuals but the whole clan.
  • Family – Really liked seeing the emphasis put on family in this series. We are invested in the No Peak clan because of the Kaul siblings. We’ve spent the first two books learning who these characters are as a unit and how they navigate family and clan business. It’s an interesting juxtaposition with the Mountain clan where Ayt Mada isn’t surrounded by family because she literally killed them in order to gain her position. 
  • Wen and Anden – I really love the Kaul siblings, but really enjoyed seeing Wen and Anden stand out in this installment. Anden is dealing with the consequences of his actions, in particular his refusal to wear jade. He’s been shunned to Espenia and experiences culture shock. Wen is every bit the badass her husband is. She’s always felt like an outsider because she is stone-eyed, but is determined to contribute to the clan and not just as the wife of the Pillar. Her devotion to the clan and her need to prove herself worthy have her taking risks that can benefit No Peak greatly if she succeeds.
  • The surprisesJade War is full of even more surprises than Jade City. I think I held my breath during the final 40 pages. Fonda Lee did not pull any punches and it will be a while until I recover from this one.
  • Pacing Jade War felt slower than the previous book, but with its attention to detail, it’s hard to hold this against it.

Fonda Lee’s The Green Bone Saga is a smart and enthralling fantasy. Jade War will keep readers on their toes with its heart-stopping action and unexpected twists.

★ ★ ★ ★
(4/5)

Snapshot Review: Jade City by Fonda Lee

Title: Jade City
Author: Fonda Lee
Series: The Green Bone Saga, #1
Pages: 498
Publisher: Orbit
Release Date: November 7th 2017

      “Magical jade—mined, traded, stolen, and killed for—is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. For centuries, honorable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family have used it to enhance their abilities and defend the island from foreign invasion.
      Now the war is over and a new generation of Kauls vies for control of Kekon’s bustling capital city. They care about nothing but protecting their own, cornering the jade market, and defending the districts under their protection. Ancient tradition has little place in this rapidly changing nation.
      When a powerful new drug emerges that lets anyone—even foreigners—wield jade, the simmering tension between the Kauls and the rival Ayt family erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones—from their grandest patriarch to the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets—and of Kekon itself.
      Jade City begins an epic tale of family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of jade and blood.”

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      “Politics moved slowly and blades moved fast.”

  • World Building – Lee’s world is unique and intricate, combining magical elements in a more modern setting. The Janloon city is at the heart of the island of Kekon, where generations have mined for Jade which gives Kekonese people enhanced abilities. Clans have waged war, thrived during peaceful times, and endured many political coups. The Kaul family has ruled the No Peak Clan for generations.
  • Lan – As the eldest, Lan always knew he would be Pillar. The Kaul legacy weighs heavy on his shoulders. He knows that as a political leader, he cannot please everyone. There are those who think he is too soft and those who think his loyalty to his more reckless brother will cost the clan their standing in Kekon.
  • Hilo – Hilo is not an easy character to like. His actions are often impetuous, reactive to the situation in front of him rather than taking into account what the long-term consequences. Still, he is incredibly loyal, and not bogged down by his family’s personal prejudices.
  • Shae – At one time, Shae wanted to be an intricate player in No Peak clan, but she never felt that the men in power recognized everything she was capable of. She spent years away from Kekon, seeing what the world has to offer outside of her home country and while she loves her family, she doesn’t want to be pulled into their world again.
  • Anden – I have such a soft spot for this teen. He’s been training for years to join the clan, but every step of the way he’s had to deal with people whispering about his heritage. Even within the Kaul family, there are those who pity him and no matter how promising he is, who he was born to has greatly affected how he sees himself.
  • Siblings dynamics  – The novel focuses on the Kaul family. The eldest son, Lan is currently Pillar, their leader, his brother Hilo is Horn, the head of armed forces, Shae, their sister, who chose a different path than being an active figure in the family. There is also Anden, who was adopted into the family years ago. I could talk hours about the different dynamics between the Kaul siblings and their young cousin Anden. I loved how complicated these relationships were because it also functioned to flush out who they were individually. Lan and Hilo are very different but have been running the clan for years, they have each other’s backs, but know they will never be what the other is. While Lan and Shae have a more amicable relationship due to Lan’s caring nature, Shae and Hilo grew up more like rivals. I loved that their interactions are just as much a result of who they were as children as much as who they are as adults. Siblings sometimes they bring out the worst parts of you and adulthood doesn’t necessarily resolve conflicts you had as children.

Nothing to note.

Fonda Lee’s Jade City strikes that perfect balance of being both an action-packed and politically charged fantasy. Her characters are dynamic, the plot is fast-moving and gripping with gut-punching twists that will have you racing toward to end.

★ ★ ★ ★ ★
(5/5)