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JADE LEGACY by Fonda Lee

Jade, the mysterious and magical substance once exclusive to the Green Bone warriors of Kekon, is now known and coveted throughout the world. Everyone wants access to the supernatural abilities it provides, from traditional forces such as governments, mercenaries, and criminal kingpins, to modern players, including doctors, athletes, and movie studios. As the struggle over the control of jade grows ever larger and more deadly, the Kaul family, and the ancient ways of the Kekonese Green Bones, will never be the same.

The Kauls have been battered by war and tragedy. They are plagued by resentments and old wounds as their adversaries are on the ascent and their country is riven by dangerous factions and foreign interference that could destroy the Green Bone way of life altogether. As a new generation arises, the clan’s growing empire is in danger of coming apart.

The clan must discern allies from enemies, set aside aside bloody rivalries, and make terrible sacrifices… but even the unbreakable bonds of blood and loyalty may not be enough to ensure the survival of the Green Bone clans and the nation they are sworn to protect.

Title : Jade Legacy
Author : Fonda Lee
Series : Green Bone Saga (book three)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 713
Genre : fantasy
Publisher : Orbit
Release Date : November 30, 2021

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5

Hollis’ 3.5 star review

I think, in some ways, this might have been my favourite of the series. Mostly because it made me cry (twice!) but also because even though it’s the longest, and a bit drawn out at times, and it was sometimes hard to gauge the fact that the story spanned two decades, I did really appreciate certain characters the most in this instalment.

This book, Jade Legacy, might have been the most aptly titled and I think was a perfect name for the finale. This series was about many things but the legacy of this family, of the clans, of Kekon, was what it was all about.

Hilo, the man who eventually became the Kaul patriarch and leader of the No Peak clan, was a character I liked right from book one. But his journey over the course of the series was so interesting because in many ways he did not change. But there were subtle differences, as he aged, as he had a family to think of, as he saddled the weight of years of losses, that showed his progression as a person despite all the other factors at play. Shae, Hilo’s sister and right hand man, was a character I was always a bit perplexed about. She was so strong and independent, and rarely swayed by her brother and often outright challenging him when she shouldn’t, and I don’t think I ever liked her. But I absolutely appreciated her role and how she made space for Wen, Hilo’s wife, who could not be a Green Bone. The two shouldn’t be compared but I loved how their strengths came out to play in different ways and despite those differences they were both forces to be reckoned with. Anden, the aforementioned characters’ nephew, was another favourite — mostly. I loved that Lee put him on the journey she did because it was not remotely what was expected of him and where he ended up was so different from where he began. But it was very needed. I think his particular path, and POV, was maybe one of the most lackluster in a lot of ways but he was still integral.

And that’s just the tip of the iceberg.

With a series that spanned over twenty years, with the amount of POVs we got, there’s no way to touch on everything. At the same time I do think, as characters grew older, and more were introduced, it was harder for those new faces to make as much of an impact. There was definitely some overshadowing. But I think maybe that was also intentional? And it’s also how it sometimes feels, growing up in the shadow of legends, being part of a new and more modern, or sometimes just different, generation. Nothing stays the same forever and that was beautifully touched on, too. Having said that, the plotting was plodding sometimes and the action occasionally felt really spaced out because of how much time the story spanned, but when it was good? It was good. When it hurt, it hurt. Lee pulled no punches even if the wind up could take hundreds of pages.

Strangely, considering I do think I enjoyed this most, this was also the one I had to push myself to get through as I did find myself frequently pulled out or distracted and I put it down a lot. But it also made me cry so maybe that’s a fair trade off. I’m sure there are things that, if I were more invested, or if I were to reread (which I don’t think I ever will), I might feel didn’t get explained as well, or weren’t resolved to enough satisfaction, but as it is? I am satisfied.

This was an immensely ambitious project with so many moving parts, so much history, and Lee gets massive amounts of credit for that. I had read her before and enjoyed her and after having read this series, even though it’s far from a favourite, I will definitely pick her up again.

** I received an ARC from the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **

JADE WAR by Fonda Lee

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.

Title : Jade War
Author : Fonda Lee
Series : Green Bone Saga (book two)
Format : physical
Page Count : 590
Genre : fantasy
Publisher : Orbit
Release Date : July 23, 2019

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5

Hollis’ 3.5 star review

So, funny enough, this wasn’t quite the war-filled book I expected based not just on the title but also where we left things in book one. Things had definitely built up and my expectations that things would get even more brutal and intense were definitely unrealized; at least for most of the book. The war, again, with some exceptions, was really less in your face and more sneaky and guerilla style. Which is fine! And it makes sense based on the clan’s goals. However, I’ll admit I was rather disappointed by this read for a good chunk of this chunky book. With the exception of one event, I was pretty ambivalent by both the plot and characters until well after the half-way mark.

My enjoyment, and the rating, is all because of that last 30%.

I’m still not loving these characters, and there’s so much detail and complexity and politics — also world/geo-political stuff — that honestly some of the close-to-home stuff gets drowned out. It’s one thing to flesh out a world and give things scope but you can also lose some intensity and momentum and that definitely happened here.

That said, there were just enough unexpected turn of events, not to mention some high stakes moments, to keep me pushing through, which stopped me from putting this down too many times. I still remain, for the most part, emotionally hands off with the characters but they do have their moments.

I’m, of course, immediately diving into book three (or, rather, as it’s after midnight on a work night I will be immediately diving in to book three on my lunch break tomorrow!) and can only imagine what awaits me in the seven hundred pages to come.

JADE CITY by Fonda Lee

JADE CITY is a gripping Godfather-esque saga of intergenerational blood feuds, vicious politics, magic, and kungfu.

The Kaul family is one of two crime syndicates that control the island of Kekon. It’s the only place in the world that produces rare magical jade, which grants those with the right training and heritage superhuman abilities. 

The Green Bone clans of honorable jade-wearing warriors once protected the island from foreign invasion–but nowadays, in a bustling post-war metropolis full of fast cars and foreign money, Green Bone families like the Kauls are primarily involved in commerce, construction, and the everyday upkeep of the districts under their protection.

When the simmering tension between the Kauls and their greatest rivals erupts into open violence in the streets, the outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones and the future of Kekon itself. 

Title : Jade City
Author : Fonda Lee
Series : Green Bone Saga (book one)
Format : eARC
Page Count : 560
Genre : fantasy
Publisher : Orbit
Release Date : November 7, 2017

Reviewer : Hollis
Rating : ★ ★ ★ .5

Hollis’ 3.5 star review

I’d just like to start out by saying that this ARC has been hanging over my head, haunting me, since 2017. I a l w a y s read my ARCs. But this one was due around the time of an epic slump and once I crawled out of it I was intimidated by both the page count and of starting a new, unfinished, complicated series. Eventually I just told myself I would wait until the series ended. And here we are.

This has been a long time coming. Was it worth the wait? Well, it wasn’t not worth the wait. If that makes sense.

Listen, you’ve probably heard all you need to know about this series. You’ve either picked it up already or determined it’s not for you. You are aware it’s an Asian-inspired fantasy about multigenerational feuding clans, pitched as comparable to The Godfather, with magical jade. And yes, it’s literally all of that. I actually have nothing more to add, really.

The stand-out here is the writing. I’ve read Lee before and while it was ages ago this still feels like a step apart. It’s well done. The complexities of the world, the history of it’s people, the politics, the families, it’s all well done. For all that it required some brainpower, and the page length was long, I found it very easy to not only stay engaged but it was hard to put this down. But did I like it? I don’t know. I definitely didn’t dislike it. And again I’m in awe of what the author crafted together. I also did like the characters in the sense that I was interested in them as opposed to, like, enjoying them.

Yeah, this is a tough one to explain.

Maybe it’s easier to say that for all that I was pulled into the story, I wasn’t invested. But maybe that’ll change. Book two has the word “war” in the title and let me tell you that there was a lot of war in book one. So I think (no, I know) the stakes are going to be much higher in the coming instalment. All in all I’m curious to see where things go and do hope that somewhere along the line I get emotionally invested in the characters.

** I received an ARC from NetGalley and the publisher (thank you!) in exchange for an honest review. **