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Power to those who can wield it

Cover of Jade City
A review of Jade City by Fonda Lee

Fonda Lee's Green Bone Saga has been on my radar and has had steady positive buzz since this, the first book, came out a few years ago. So I've known I wanted to read it for a while. But I also knew, given the subject matter, I had to be in the right reading mood. Well this weekend I was and wow! it definitely lives up to the hype.

Lee's novel is set in a fictional asian country, Kekon, and centers on two warring clans (No Peak and Mountain) who fight not only for territory but for the control of the country's most valuable resource, jade. In this universe jade can confer great strength and special abilities on the wearers. Those extra capabilities helped the clan's warriors to drive out an invading force and gain control of their own nation. But since the war ended, the unity the clans felt has given way to cut-throat (literally) competition and they now battle one another for territory and power.

The heart of the story rests with the three Kaul siblings who are heir to the No Peak clan and control a majority of the city of Janloon. Lan has taken over leadership from his grandfather but still struggles to convince clan members he's really in charge. Hilo is Lan's enforcer and seen by many as a better choice for clan leader, though that's not something he seeks. And Shae is the sister who stopped wearing jade and left her country behind, unsuccessfully it turns out. She has recently returned but is unsure about where she'll now fit within the clan structure. As they each individually strive to define their place in the family and world, they are also faced with the threat of clan warfare as the Mountain clan makes ever more egregious encroachments.

This is gritty, violent urban fantasy at its finest. It has won the World Fantasy and the Aurora Awards, and was nominated for Nebula, Dragon, Ignyte, and Locus Awards. The deep world-building and incredible fantastical elements make for an entirely immersive experience. Good, good stuff and I can't wait to continue the series.

Nov 30, 2023