Jump to ratings and reviews
Rate this book
Rate this book
A jáde Kekon szigetének éltető eleme. Mindig is bányászták, adták-vették, csiszolták, lopták, öltek érte - de évszázadokon át csakis az olyan tiszteletre méltó Zöldcsont harcosok viselhették, mint a Kaul család tagjai, akik különleges adottságaik révén, a mágikus zöld kő erejét használva védelmezték a szigetet az idegen megszállóktól.
Mostanra a szabadságért vívott harc véget ért, és a Kaulok új generációja immár Kekon rohamtempóban fejlődő fővárosának uralmáért verseng. Mindent megtesznek, hogy megvédjék az övéiket, ellenőrizzék a jádekereskedelmet, és megóvják a területeiket. A klánok mindennapjait meghatározó ősi tradícióknak egyre kevesebb tér marad gyorsan változó világukban.
Amikor megjelenik a piacon egy rendkívüli drog, amely bárkit, még a külföldieket is képessé teszi a jádeviselésre, a Kaulok és a rivális Ayt család közti, régóta feszülő ellentét nyílt erőszakba csap át. A klánok háborújának kimenetele minden Zöldcsont sorsára hatással van a legöregebb pátriárkától a legutolsó motoros futárig, sőt az egész sziget jövőjét is meghatározza.

A Zöldcsont-saga a legjobbfajta urban fantasy; gengsztertörténetbe oltott mágikus kungfumese családról, becsületről és harcosokról, akik a vér és a jáde ősi törvényei szerint élnek és halnak.

576 pages, Paperback

First published November 7, 2017

Loading interface...
Loading interface...

About the author

Fonda Lee

30 books4,840 followers
Fonda Lee is the World Fantasy Award-winning author of the epic Green Bone Saga, beginning with Jade City and continuing in Jade War and Jade Legacy. She is also the author of the acclaimed science fiction novels Zeroboxer, Exo and Cross Fire.

Fonda is as a three-time winner of the Aurora Award (Canada’s national science fiction and fantasy award), and a multiple finalist for the Nebula Award, the Locus Award, and the Oregon Book Award. Her novels have garnered multiple starred reviews, been included on numerous state reading lists, named Junior Library Guild selections, and appeared on Best of Year lists from NPR, Barnes & Noble, Syfy Wire, and others.

Fonda is a former corporate strategist and black belt martial artist who loves action movies and Eggs Benedict. Born and raised in Canada, she currently resides in Portland, Oregon.

Ratings & Reviews

What do you think?
Rate this book

Friends & Following

Create a free account to discover what your friends think of this book!

Community Reviews

5 stars
19,399 (36%)
4 stars
22,710 (42%)
3 stars
8,527 (16%)
2 stars
1,765 (3%)
1 star
521 (<1%)
Displaying 1 - 30 of 9,150 reviews
Profile Image for Petrik.
688 reviews46.1k followers
September 28, 2022
Incredible, the multiple nominees and awards this book has won are all well deserved.

Jade City is the first book in The Green Bone Saga, and it is also Fonda Lee’s adult fantasy debut. Ever since I knew about the existence of this novel, it has always been a book I wanted to read. As usual, the unbeatable TBR pile delayed me, and I was so sure that I won’t be getting into this one until next year. However, after seeing the non-stop praises that Fonda Lee and the book constantly received, as an Asian and avid adult fantasy reader, I knew that I couldn’t delay this any longer. I’m really happy that I gave this a read now, I’ve been craving a fantastic Asian-inspired fantasy lately, and Jade City delivered a spectacular Asian-inspired urban fantasy debut.

“Any old horse will run when it's whipped, but only fast enough to avoid the whipping," Hilo said. "Racehorses, though, they run because they look at the horse on their left, they look at the one on their right, and they think, No way am I second to these fuckers.”

If you want to know what the general plot of the book is about, read the synopsis on Goodreads or Amazon; it’s completely spoiler-free, and I won’t be bothering you with my unnecessary paraphrasing of the plot description. Jade City is a brilliantly imagined urban high fantasy. Growing up as an Asian in a Chinese household, it’s practically impossible to not watch Asian gangster or martial arts movies with the family. This novel reminded me a lot of my love for those movies, in an even superior way. On my first read, it did take me a while before I was fully engaged with the narrative. If you’re reading the book for the first time, and at first you feel the same as I did, be patient. Trust me, it’s worth it. The first 31% of the book was the calm before the storm. Once the story went past the first interlude, the storm of blood and tension compelled me to continue reading non-stop. I immensely enjoyed reading Jade City. It was a fantastic read; the themes of honor, loyalty, wealth, power, greed, and family took the center stage in the narrative, and I can’t get enough of them.

“Sometimes even the most loyal and devoted men make mistakes when they’re forced to make decisions under terrible circumstances.”

There were some parts of the story that did feel slightly predictable, but predictability doesn’t immediately mean it’s a bad thing. A certain level of familiarity in storytelling structure can be a good thing, and it has been achieved here. Jade City has an immersive world-building that’s so distinct in the current fantasy market. Accompanied by a terrific combination of magic and martial arts, Lee’s engaging prose shine; the pacing and momentum building was constantly wonderful. And most importantly, Lee’s characterizations and dialogues were excellent.

“Sometimes, Andy, the people you think you can count on, they let you down in a bad way, and that’s hard to take. But for the most part, you give a man something to live up to, you tell him he can be more than he is now, more than other people think he’ll ever be, and he’ll try his godsdamned best to make it true.”

Fonda Lee’s characterizations were so masterful, and to think this is only the first book of the trilogy. Lan, Hilo, Shae, and Anden are the four main characters, and they’re all flawed, realistic, and easily relatable. Honestly, it’s not just the main characters, ALL the characters felt extremely well-written. During my time of reading Jade City, I didn’t realize when it occurred, but I was so immersed with the book that my perception of reality felt clouded; I forgot I was reading a book. Seriously, the characterizations and prose were that good; everything just clicked with me. Lee did an outstanding job in utilizing her characters to show the importance of honor. The character’s determination to put their family at the top of their priority—setting aside their differences—was admirable. Plus, I have to say that the interactions and relationships that the main characters have with each other were glowing brilliantly. Empathizing characters to care for will always be my utmost priority in my reading experience, and the characterizations in Jade City were simply stupendous.

“Expectations are a funny thing,” Wen said. “When you’re born with them, you resent them, fight against them. When you’ve never been given any, you feel the lack of them your whole life.”

Jade City deflected the notion I had that somehow the book won’t live up to my high expectation, but it managed to not only live up to it but exceeded it. Fonda Lee channeled palpable tensions into the deadly political machinations, the descent into the bloody conflicts, the typhoon of battles, and the dynamic interactions between characters; they were a sheer joy to read. With Jade City, Fonda Lee has created an adult fantasy debut that is up there with The Lies of Locke Lamora in quality and magnificence, and that’s not praises I easily hand out. I absolutely look forward to reading Jade War next year!

You can order the book from: Blackwells (Free International shipping)

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions | I also have a Booktube channel

Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!

My Patrons: Alfred, Andrew, Annabeth, Ben, Blaise, Diana, Dylan, Edward, Element, Ellen, Gary, Hamad, Helen, Jimmy Nutts, Jennifer, Joie, Luis, Lufi, Melinda, Meryl, Mike, Miracle, Nicholas, Samuel, Sarah, Sarah, Shaad, Xero, Wendy, Wick, Zoe.
Profile Image for chai ♡.
322 reviews156k followers
August 25, 2022
I'm going to attempt a summary of Lee's invigorating new novel, even if I suspect no summary can do justice to the rip-roaring complexity of the plot:

Jade City is set in a world where jade confers great strength and power to those who can wield it—without risking madness or a lethal propensity to the Itches.

More than a quarter of a century before, the island nation of Kekon was freed from the imperial thrall of the Shotarians. Ever since, the jade-wielding warriors of No Peak and Mountain—the two largest clans in Kekon’s capital city—have worked together in their complex webs of favor and obligation, indulging the unending performance of glad-handing and compromise. But the candle of their fragile, flexible alliance is burning at both ends and lighting their way to irreversible violence. The Kekonese had thought the war was in the past, but it seems it refuses to remain there.

With foreign powers setting their sights on the Kekonese jade and the illegal trade of a dangerous drug that allows Non-Kekonese to wear jade ballooning, the peace between the clans has become like a damaged cargo rope, unraveling with the speed of a new-lit fire down to a single thread. And soon, it will snap.

Jade City is a book that bursts with ideas, and from the outset, Lee goes to painstaking work to establish a comprehensible, fully-lived in world to make sure it all makes sense. The magic is thoroughly explained and compellingly explored, as is the social hierarchy. I also relished the stories of abandoned gods, mythical jade warriors and horrific monsters that are threaded through the entirety of Jade City, making the world's scope even more expansive, even when the story only focuses on a handful of individuals. The resulting narrative is as accessible an experience as going to the movies: vivid, immediate, and unforgettable.

Alongside the richness of Lee’s world, there’s the tremendous depth of character. The author's ambitious tapestry includes corruption, treason, vengeance, honor, regret, forbidding love, and sexuality. It’s a killer story about a family steeped in tragedy and power, affronting painful choices while occupying a city that seems intent on swallowing them whole.

Jade City centers around the Kaul family: Lan, Shae, and Hilo, and there is such a current of love and rage and loss running between the three siblings.

Lan’s character in particular burrowed deep into my heart. Kaul Lan’s heart had no talent for violence. Ever since the mantle of clan Pillar (leader) had been passed to him from his legendary but ailing grandfather, Lan has been trying to keep the rusty, ramshackle machine that is No Peak grinding along. But he had been burdened for so long, and bereft of that state of rage and resentment everyone else expected him to cultivate as the clan’s Pillar. I love how Lan always tried to be a gentle and patient leader, even when his enemies suffered no such compunction, even when his softness was always taken for weakness. Lan was the furthest thing from weak, and as the novel acutely illustrates, it takes great strength to be shown the grimmest face of the world and still choose to meet its gaze with kindness.

Hilo, on the other hand, is Lan's opposite in every way. Hilo is imperious, enraged, and in some abhorrent way, alive. His blood sings with violence and he possesses such will for vengeance. But for all Hilo's unbridled temper, there is something almost vulnerable about him. Hilo radiates the flinching fragility of people who carry the worst kinds of aches, and it's manifestly apparent in the way he lashes out at his little sister when she leaves her family behind for an Espenian military officer, because he felt abandoned and lonely and instead of admitting it, he draped his words in venom and hung tightly to the iron in his pride just so he’d feel like he’d gotten his bearings again. And it's that softness, which is often denied and sublimated in favor of dogged anger, that endeared Hilo to me.

I also loved Shae’s character. How she’d taken a risk to rise above the destiny carved out for her by the men in her life. She cast off her jade and went to Espenia where she was just another faceless figure, not the heir to a legendary warrior who liberated his country, or even a jade-wielding soldier who knew five dozen ways to kill with a lover’s intimacy. When Shae comes back, it's like coming to a place that had been home but isn't anymore, like trying to fit back into a skin already shed. I really admired her loyalty, how her love for her family keeps reaching new incandescences, chasing away all trace of grudges and grievances.

Shae is not the only female character given so much care and attention. Ayt Madashi is a very compelling villain. Wen, Hilo’s lover, is also granted equal footing in the story. As a jade-immune stone-eye, Wen has suffered the toll of the insidious belief that stone-eyes carry a curse in their blood. It didn’t help that her family was disgraced despite the fact that Hilo has recruited her two brothers as his First and Second Fists, or that Hilo himself is constantly tormented over her safety and often tries to keep the face of the world and its violence curtained from her. But Wen isn’t the type to yield to whoever tries to push her into surrender, and I have a feeling she’s going to play an even more enormous role in the next installment.

Gripping and audaciously inventive, Jade City wraps enough up to satisfy but clearly sets the stage for so much more. I’m very much looking forward to reading the sequel!
Profile Image for Regan.
457 reviews110k followers
June 9, 2023
Definitely worth the hype WOW
Profile Image for Fonda Lee.
Author 30 books4,840 followers
May 24, 2017
Jade City is my adult debut and it also marks my foray into epic fantasy. It came about from watching kung fu movies and thinking, "You know, I'm a long-time student of martial arts, so why can't I punch through concrete or fly thirty feet into the air yet?" I started envisioning a society where magical jade granted special abilities to warriors with the proper training and bloodline, and the idea merged with my longstanding enthusiasm for mafia stories to become this modern gangster family saga. It's the most intense, ambitious thing I've ever written, and there's more to come.
Profile Image for Emily (Books with Emily Fox).
554 reviews60.5k followers
July 14, 2023
This is such a good fantasy series!

The magic system is great, the worldbuilding is interesting but more importantly, I ended up way more emotionally invested in the characters than I expected.

Profile Image for Matt's Fantasy Book Reviews.
265 reviews3,981 followers
September 14, 2022
Check out my YouTube channel where I show my instant reactions upon finishing reading fantasy books.

A wonderfully gripping tale of a Godfather inspired story set in an Asian-inspired fantasy backdrop

Going into this book, I was extremely nervous that I would not enjoy my experience. I've been burned lately from books that are "the next best thing" lately, and coupled with the fact that I'm generally not a fan of urban fantasy, there was a lot that led me to believe I would be in the minority in disliking this book.

And when I began my reading journey, my worries intensified. The Godfather is both one of my favorite movies, and one of my favorite books - and the start of Jade City feels more than a little bit inspired by it. I began to think that this was just a Godfather clone with a setting change. It has a very similar family dynamic, and some of the early parts of the book have plot points that are virtually identical.

But as the book developed there was a huge detour from the book it was inspired by, and turned into an absolutely wonderfully unique story of political intrigue, betrayal, and revenge. The plot of this book, and the characters that are featured are some of the best in any modern day fantasy book, and I would recommend this book to every fan of the genre.

Story: 5/5

The story revolves around the Kaul family, one of the two large crime syndicates in the island of Kekon. The family has a hierarchy of family members and people who work for the family that is extremely reminiscent of how mafias are organized. The story is mostly about the power struggle between these two families, and the character development of the main family members as they struggle to successfully fill the shoes of the family patriarch, who had recently stepped down from power before the book began.

The story has wild turns that are unexpected, and keeps you both heavily invested in the characters, and the story. It is intense, with wonderful pacing from start to finish. Every time I thought I knew the direction this book was going to take, it would spin into a new one that was even more entertaining than I was envisioning.

World Building: 3/5

The world here feels a little flat, and while it's explained in great detail it just feels like a generic city to me. The world at large is mostly unexplored, as 95% of the book just centers around the events that happen in one location. This is fine, as it's the story it's trying to tell, but doesn't end up feeling particularly interesting from a worldbuilding perspective.

Fantasy Elements: 3/5

The fantasy elements of this book also felt a bit stale. The thing that makes this a fantasy book is that the City of Kekon is the only location in this world that produces jade - which grants the people who wear it with exceptional strength/speed.

It's a very basic magic system that feels rather uninspired. And while it does keep the plot moving in important ways, it's just not nearly on the same innovative level as most modern day fantasy novels. I'm not sure that adding in a crazy magic system would have benefitted this book, but as it stands this is definitely the weakest part of this book.

Characters: 5/5

The characters are one of the things that makes this book so special. The book mostly revolves around the POVs of three brothers (one of which is adopted) and a sister, and each of them have compelling personal stories with tremendous character growth. At no point was I disappointed when the POV switched, as I like them all equally.

These are flawed characters that are fighting against those flaws, and it's extremely entertaining to watch them progress through this story and interact with each other, and the side characters of this book. Even the side characters are well done, including the rival family which doesn't end up feeling like a "good vs. evil" storyline, which I appreciated from this author.

Writing Style: 4/5

The prose in this story is well written, but the prose is no exceptional. It's certainly done well enough to no take away anything from this amazing story, but is not on the level of the greatest poetic writers of this genre. The descriptions of the locations and characters are very well done though, and kept me with a very clear picture of the events as they unfolded.

The action sequences of this book were greatly done, and definitely achieved the tension that literally kept me on the edge of my seat for large portions of this book.

Enjoyment: 5/5

Even though I knocked several points on the specific aspects of this book on my completely arbitrary scoring system, this is a top tier 5/5 for me. The story and characters are so well done that I absolutely cannot wait to pick up the next book in this series. It's one of the best fantasy books I've read that have been written in the past decade, and has made me rethink my negative stance on urban fantasy novels. Go buy this book if you haven't already!

Profile Image for jessica.
2,555 reviews35.7k followers
December 9, 2021
this has been getting a lot of love on social media lately. my friends average rating for it is 4.12, so i decided to give it a go.

i will start off with the positives and mention how extremely well-written this is as far as prose and narrative structure goes. its very detailed and descriptive in a way that makes you feel utterly immersed into the city of janloon. the magic system is also cool. even though i cant fully explain how it works, i think the idea of using jade for power is interesting. and i thought the characters were compelling and complex enough. but thats where my enjoyment ends.

lets face it. urban fantasy just isnt my thing. i would have definitely enjoyed this a lot more if it had been removed from a modern setting. the cell phones and motorcycles and guns often took me out of the fantasy vibe. i also didnt care for the content. ive read books with feuding families before, but there was also an additional plot mixed in to help progress the story. this one doesnt. its literally two warring families vying for control of a city. thats it. and because im not one for gang politics, structure, and power dynamics, the heart of this story really struggled to keep my interest.

objectively, there is a lot of good stuff here, which is why its getting so much attention, but i personally just couldnt connect to the story and im most likely not going to continue the series.

3.5 stars
Profile Image for mina reads™️.
545 reviews7,034 followers
October 5, 2021
I need to lie the fuck down...how could fonda lee hurt me this much on a REREAD of all things

“The clan is my blood and the pillar it’s master. On my honor, on my life, on my jade” is etched indelibly in my brain

Five stars, easily, I’d give it 100 stars if I could.

Jade City is an absolutely brilliant urban fantasy set on the island of Kekon. A small place ruled my rival greenbone clans, the Kauls and the Ayts. In this world Kekon is the home of a special, magical jade that imbued users with enhanced magical abilities and Greenbones are genetically inclined to handling this jade. This is the basis of this frenetically fast paced mafia fantasy. Two magical jade clans so powerful that they control the very government and economics of their country, what happens when war breaks out between these families and their fragile peace is shattered by violence that shocks them all?

This story is excellent beyond anything that I could describe to you here, the characters are phenomenal and flawed. The Kaul family have stolen every bit of my heart and their dynamic had me close to tears many times. The world building is rich, full of politics, magic, theology and culture. The plot and pacing are exceptional and I found myself shocked at every turn despite this being a reread for me. Fonda Lee is a master at her craft and I’m eager to continue this series. I hope we can expect more fantasies like this in the future because I absolutely adored this modern fantasy.

Here’s my playlist for the book: https://open.spotify.com/user/1217581...
Profile Image for Althea ☾.
625 reviews2,019 followers
November 3, 2022
2nd read update: to absolutely no one’s surprise, i still loved it. The JL parallels… unmatched.

If you like politically intriguing urban fantasy that centers around morally questionable characters with complicated pre-established relationships that find themselves in the middle of inter-clan conflict but still sticks together in the end because they are family… this is the book for you. [ends run-on sentence]

Additional note: I think it's an underrated topic but the way subtle dynamics in the Hong Kong and Asian cultures play into the different scenes was so well-done that I think if you aren't familiar with Asian cultures and their cultural/family dynamics, you wouldn't get it. But if you do, you will really appreciate it.

“If heart alone could win the war, we’d already be victorious.”

*thinks about the quote*
*slams hands on the table*
*thinks about the quote again*

my mind is reeling.

I was shocked at how easy it was to feel invested in these complex, calculating, and at times violent, characters but still possess so much heart for the people and things they love (no matter what kind of complicated relationship it may be)

Fonda Lee took her time in the beginning building the politics, character dynamics, and world-building in this multi-POV story but it balances its characters and plot so well that it never felt like it was dense or dragging. It was like we were slowly learning how the political dynamics works as the details unfolded at the start and I just have to say that it was nothing short of clever.

The fact that FL is both a black-belt martial artist and former corporate strategist SHOWS in the writing and details she put into the book.

“In general, however, people were uncomfortable around misfortune and reluctant to admit to their own.”

I find it very rare for a cast of characters to be so well-balanced in writing, page-time, and character development that you feel like you’re watching an extended version of a movie and that you could be an extra unseen member actually in story and following around the characters…. especially in stories centered around a family that already have pre-established relationships prior to the start of the story. But Fonda Lee found that balance and kept it going all throughout.

Jade City mainly follows four central characters: Kaul Lan, Kaul Hilo, Kaul Shae, and Anden Emery. Four siblings of the Kaul family that can’t be any more different but are all so uniquely intriguing. I don’t think I can give justice for my love of the sibling/family relationships and dynamics…. so all I will say is:


“Screw you, Hilo,” she snapped. “I can kill my ex-boyfriends myself.”

ah yes… golden sibling dynamics right there.

If you want intensity and action, it doesn’t fall short either. It’s action-packed without forgetting the complex characters dynamics to back up the intensity and vivid imagery to keep you on your toes and feel like you never want to let these characters go.

“Drama and reminisce of classic Hong Kong ganster films” really is the vibe of what you’re getting if all of that was set in a fantasy metropolis that’s both gritty and vividly written. The world-building was subtle but effective and so cleverly written. Especially for a book that really isn’t that long, I was surprised at how much subtleties and nuance FL was able to weave in a dynamic plot that revolves around power, family, and all the technical in-betweens that comes with actually ruling a clan.

Themes revolve around family/brotherhood, power, and prejudice in a society. While showing perspectives from the top of the social ladder to those at the bottom, and everything in between.

“People were people. The power of jade didn’t make them better or closer to godliness; it just made them more powerful”

The addition of Jade as the main fantasy element that this world revolves on was the perfect cherry on top. It almost felt like the Jade just made them a little more super human and made the fight scenes/perceptions make a lot more sense even though I consider it as more of a soft magic system. Don’t get me wrong, this is definitely still a violent and brutal book with graphic imagery and arguably cruel characters so just keep that in mind.

It truly has everything you want in a fantasy action novel from character dynamics that sweep you up to Jade-enhanced fight scenes that leave you gasping. My mind felt so alive. I absolutely loved the fact that we still see them bond over both trivial things like having dinner to major power-changing dynamics like you know… planning a siege.

“Nothing good's coming, when the dogs start disappearing from the streets.”

You know the plot is well-written when you realize that the twist and turns that happen have been building up to it the whole time but you are still shocked that it even happened at all. The fact that this book had me grieving over characters i’ve never even met should say something in itself. I truly felt like I cared about every minor character as much as Hilo did. Even the enmity between the two clans never felt short of perfectly paced that even though we don’t see them decided on the details, nothing ever felt like it didn’t make sense.

To be honest, this might be a new favorite of mine. It's really high up there.

Highly recommended if you enjoy brutal, action-packed urban fantasy that have intensity levels turned on high at almost every chapter and perfectly balanced character-driven and plot-driven stories. Especially, if you like morally questionable characters full of scheming and betrayal that still leaves you wanting to always cheer them on.

the things people do for power…. I have been shaken to my core.

Now, excuse me because I need to find a Kaul family that I can get myself adopted into, Anden Emery style.

// buddy read with mah friend

— 5.0 —
content warnings// Addiction (allegory), Body horror, Death, Drug use, Gun violence, Overdose, Self-harm (mentioned), Sexual abuse of minor, Sexual content, Suicide (mentioned), Violence (graphic)
Profile Image for James Tivendale.
318 reviews1,345 followers
September 21, 2021
Currently re-reading this as I have a copy of Jade Legacy but want to remember the intricate details from the story so far. Something happens to one of the main characters in this book, and I found myself reading really slow when that moment was approaching as I didn't want it to happen! The power of the re-read definitely adds extra layers and dimensions to the reading experience...

I received a review copy of Jade City in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Fonda Lee and Orbit Books.                                   

Although presently at a time of an uneasy peace, the city of Janloon is controlled by two rivals groups which are the No Peak Clan and the Mountain Clan. The families that run the clans are powerful and world famous as they mine and control the Jade. Jade is a precious stone that enhances a warriors capabilities in six disciplines. Strength, steel, perception, lightness, deflection, and channelling. A "Jade warrior" becomes more formidable and Herculean when they earn and flaunt more of the jewels. There is a great focus on honour and tradition with how jewels can be obtained. When youngsters graduate from the warrior academy they can earn their first Jade but it's mostly obtained by the victor from a deceased rival following a duel or skirmish. These phenomenal powers and the potential have not gone unnoticed by the black market who are trying to get in on the act of distributing the highly sought after stones through unsavoury means to individuals who have not earned them. Interestingly though, for the untrained it is like a drug, overuse and withdrawal can lead to madness and death.

The entire narrative has an Oriental feel to it with a focus on clan life, traditions and martial arts. I'd say this book is a mix of To's - Election, Coppola's - The Godfather and the Jade can give it's wearers powers reminiscent of those seen in Lee's - Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon. In fact, I often forgot I was reading a fantasy book as the stunning worldbuilding created a picture to me that all this was happening in a 1980's Hong Kong. Lee has created a world of immense depth. From Gods to complex clan hierarchies, to intricate past character relationships, to the science behind the fighting scenes. Some of the gang titles may seem unfamiliar at first but they never seem confusing and are cleverly caressed into the reader's mind. The hierarchy seems military-like in its presentation and the clans have a Pillar > Weather Man and Horn > Luckbringers and Fists > Fingers > Students.

The real stunning standout element of Jade City is the exceptionally deep and fully realised characters. The Pillar Lan is calm, intelligent and respected but runs his clan in the shadow of his Grandfather. His brother Hilo is the Horn and essentially the street armies general. His soldiers are fiercely loyal even if he flaunts an action first and ask questions later approach. Shae is their sister who returning following studying abroad at a time after a spat where her family turned her back on her. Finally Anden, the adopted cousin who's currently in his final year at the training academy. How they interact and work together with the threat of an upcoming turf-war is brilliant. There are about eight point of view characters, the above mentioned included but I truly don't think there was a weak character anywhere in this narrative. There is a complexity surrounding this books ensemble that is rarely seen in the first book of a series. The character progression is also exquisite as the times change, motives are influenced, and the running of their businesses are affected.

This is the first entry in The Green Bone Saga and I honestly can't wait to see what happens next. I didn't care about anything else whilst I was reading this and I just wanted to see what would become the characters. There are some emotionally shocking moments, some intricate and otherworldly fight scenes, and lots of loyalty, honour and tradition. Jade City is an epic, unique and often unforgiving gangster fantasy intertwined with glimpses of hope and goodness. The haunting nature of the world is also mixed with betrayals and a huge death toll. Recommended. 
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,097 reviews17.7k followers
June 29, 2022
“Expectations are a funny thing,” Wen said. “When you’re born with them, you resent them, fight against them. When you’ve never been given any, you feel the lack of them your whole life.”

Emotionally, I feel like I was just hit by an entire truck.

In the city of Janloon, jade rules: those with have power, and those without lose it. Those with jade, though, must fight to keep it, and nowhere is this more true than between the No Peak and the Mountain clans. Jade City follows the Kauls, leaders of the No Peak clan, as they attempt to hold power with their grandfather Kal-Sen dying.

The best way to describe Jade City would be… tense. Despite the length, this book is genuinely stressful from start to finish. Lee’s talent is at building a world that seems tense, but generally okay… and then breaking things down, bit by bit. The setup is intriguing, sure, but the real satisfaction (and tears) comes in seeing it all fall to pieces. There’s a grand focus on setup and payoff, especially with regards to characters.

Kekon, the country, is a fully realized location, with history and intrigue that feels imagined even when not relevant to the plot. One of the most standout elements of this book is the constant feeling that you’re a part of a context you’ve barely seen: we focus on Janloon, but we see hints of something outside. (I’m interested to see what the series does with this.)

It really helps that the characters are so easy to invest in. Jade City does a fantastic job of building its characters into distinct people with distinct motivations, but making us root for all of them. The relationships between the family are so vivid and real: even when we feel the conflict between sister and brother, we also see the love between them.

Before this ends, let’s run this down by the numbers.

Cast of Characters:
Main players:
Shae, sister who left Kekon for study, chasing an ex, Gerald. Her conflict is about finding her identity apart from her family. Everyone tries to forgive her, but she is the one who’s been wronged.
Hilo, the Horn, charismatic but simultaneously the most ruthless of the family. Should be the least likable and yet is so deeply endearing.
Lan, the Pillar, the diplomatic leader. He is supportive to Shae, kind to those he loves. This is a conflict, though, too: how can he rule, without doing what needs to be done?
Anden, cousin and adopted son to the Kauls, lives at a nearby academy. Gay icon. His conflict is about growing into his power, and what that means.
Wen, girlfriend to Hilo, smart and always ready to plan.

We also have:
Doru, Weatherman of No Peak, advisor to Kal-Sen.
Barrow, a failed kidnapper who falls in with Moot, informer for the Mountain.
Gom Ash, Horn of the Mountain, who walked away from a death of consequence.
Ait Mata, Pillar of the Mountain. Certified badass.

Tropes To Love Here:
☆Fantasy city politics—the idea of drama between gangs
☆A focus on dynamics between siblings
☆Characters who are pushed to their limits, and must consider which codes they are willing to break

This book… messed me up. Genuinely. It’s been a long time since I’ve read a fantasy book that had me so engrossed, and I am extremely excited to pick up the sequel.

Blog | Youtube | Twitter | Instagram | Spotify | About |
Profile Image for karen.
3,988 reviews170k followers
June 24, 2018

it took me an embarrassingly long time to get through this book. between life-sorrow and the early bitchslap of summer weather, i’ve been very bad at reading. however, once this clicked for me, i was completely hooked, and when i finished, i felt that very specific emotional mashup of yearning and frustration that comes when you read the first book in a series six months before it is even published, making the wait for the next book that much longer.

this is the author’s first novel for the adult market, and it’s really impressive. i’ve never read her YA, but if it’s anything like this, i’m interested.

on paper, it’s not really my kind of book - epic fantasy meets organized crime, rippling with all the unfamiliar names of characters, locations, ranks, and honorifics that give me agita trying to keep straight whenever i attempt to read fantasy, and filled with detailed fight sequences that tend to make my eyes glaze over trying to visualize ‘em. BUT, while i admit it took me a bit longer than i’m comfortable admitting to orient myself in this world, once i did, her worldbuilding blew my mind a little. this is such a dense and elaborate realm; a kinda-sorta japan, but with its own unique myths, religious rituals, caste system, culture, etc to which the reader is exposed gradually, almost incidentally, while following the story of two clans of superhuman warriors fighting for dominance, territory, and undisputed control over the supply of jade from which the clans derive their powers, while regular citizens are caught in the crossfire. but it’s not just battles and physical conflicts, it’s about family (and Family), politics, legacy, reputation, loyalty, and that always-unpleasant opposition between duty and desire.

it’s damn good, practically shakespearian.

lee is a martial artist herself, and she writes her fight scenes in a way that even i (a lover, not a fighter) can follow along with, which is a rare gift. she’s equally skilled in the emotional landscapes of her characters (of which there are many), creating a rich psychological component, and this thing is impressively thick with details of the hierarchies and roles and the complex social mechanics of this world. some of the names are better than others - it’s hard for me to get invested in the earnest fight for the region known as the Armpit, but who am i to judge another culture’s armpit-estimation?

i haven’t said much about the plot, because it’s one of those books where you can’t easily mention one element without attaching five qualifying/explanatory statements to it - backtracking to differentiate between Fists and Fingers, White Rats and stone-eyes, etc - and i think ‘warring crime syndicates with magical powers’ is enough to pinpoint the driving force behind the action.

it may have taken me a while to settle into the world, but i’m a notorious fantasy-dummy, so now that i’m comfortable here, bring on book two before i forget all this hard-won understanding!!

come to my blog!
Profile Image for Sofia.
231 reviews6,984 followers
December 28, 2022
Reading Jade City feels like watching a movie in an empty theater. Eyes glued to the giant screen, the roaring action and raw emotions filling the silence. Then when the movie ends and the lights turn on, you’re surprised that you’re alone, that the characters weren’t actually living their lives right in front of you. I’ve heard people say that you should write a book like it’s a film playing in your mind, seamlessly transitioning from scene to scene, lending a cinematic quality to the characters. Jade City is a perfect example. This changed the way I see fantasy.

The book revolves around the rivalry between the two major clans that control Janloon (Jade City): No Peak, led by the Kaul family, and Mountain, their cunning opposition. Although the protagonists are Kauls and I was very emotionally attached to their fates, I couldn’t help but admire Mountain in some ways. Ayt Mada, their leader, has more foresight for the country of Kekon than any of the Kauls. She is a calculating and enthralling character, hard to resist.

That’s part of the beauty of Jade City. The entangled economics, politics, and alliances are thrilling to read about. Janloon is a city of moving parts. The urban world Fonda Lee has created is outstanding. There are so many little cultural touches that bring it to life: idioms, religious superstitions, honorific suffixes.

The Kauls, fiercely loyal and devoted, are fascinating and realistic characters. Lan strives to live up to his grandfather’s expectations and his late father’s legacy. Hilo is violent and hot-tempered, but his love for the clan runs deep. Shae, in search of herself, tries to find a balance between loyalty to her difficult family and independence from the archaic Green Bone society. Anden feels like a foreigner in his own country, haunted by his parents’ history as he struggles to control his untamed jade powers. They are a messy family, their relationships with each other rife with tension and unresolved bitterness. But their bonds with one another, each unique and complicated in their own way, prove strong enough to survive the war on their hands. Even the side characters are given distinct personalities and developed well without sacrificing the quality of the main characters' storylines.

The plot is so clean and well-paced, though it is intricate and full of twists. I never felt confused or lost, even as the story got more complicated. The writing style fits the plot perfectly. It’s not flowery or especially poetic, but it describes everything from the action scenes to the quiet ones so well. The words just flow like they’re supposed to:

Kaul Sen sagged and sat down on the stairs, his limbs folding like a rickety chair frame, his rope draping over his bony shoulders and knees like a sheet.

I first read Jade City a year or so ago, in 2021, when I was on the cusp of falling into a deep reading slump that would last half a year. At the time, I placed most of the blame for that slump on this book, which was unfair, because there were definitely other factors that made me unsatisfied with literature for such a long period of time. I don’t think I’ve ever changed my opinion about a book to the polar opposite before, but if any book deserves my wholehearted change of mind, it’s this one. I enjoyed every page of Jade City. What a satisfying, riveting, unique masterpiece of fantasy.

Playlist (created with input from John):
Been Away Too Long - Soundgarden
Ode to my Family - The Cranberries
Jaded - Aerosmith
Dynasty - Rina Sawayama
The Green Manalishi - Fleetwood Mac
False Dichotomy - Metric
BIBI Vengeance - BIBI
Savage Good Boy - Japanese Breakfast
Mungo City - Spacehog
Heads Will Roll - Yeah Yeah Yeahs
Bones - Soccer Mommy
Beautiful Crime - TAMER

5 stars
Profile Image for John Mauro.
Author 5 books519 followers
September 22, 2023
Check out my recent interview with Fonda Lee at Grimdark Magazine.

My complete review of Jade City is published at Grimdark Magazine.

Jade City is Fonda Lee’s World Fantasy Award-winning urban fantasy set in the Asian-inspired island nation of Kekon. Jade City is the nickname for Janloon, the capital of Kekon, which is controlled by mafia-style gangs led by organized crime families.

The two most prominent gangs are the No Peak and Mountain clans, who clash over control of city neighborhoods, but more importantly over the mining and trade of Kekonese jade. When worn by someone with the appropriate training and genetic predisposition, jade gives the wearer enhanced abilities in fighting and perception. A newly developed drug called SN1 (or “shine”) can extend these abilities to non-Kekonese people, enabling the use of jade as a dangerous new weapon at a global scale. The combination of jade and shine offers a short-circuit path to power and has led to the illegal production and trade of both substances.

The three main characters in Jade City are the Kaul siblings, who have inherited control of the No Peak clan from their grandfather. The eldest, Lan, is the Pillar (leader) of the clan and struggles to provide strong leadership while dealing with several personal issues. Hilo is Lan’s fiery younger brother who serves as the Horn (chief fighter) of the clan. Hilo is impulsive and quick-tempered, but he has absolute loyalty to his family. The third principal character, Shae, is their younger sister who has just returned to Kekon after completing her education abroad. Shae struggles to discern her future, trying to balance her family’s expectations with finding her own path.

Fonda Lee brilliantly captures the intersecting web of conflicts experienced by the main characters. Inter-generational conflict within the No Peak clan arises between the young generation of the Kaul family and their grandfather, who still wields substantial behind-the-scenes authority. There is also sibling infighting among Lan, Hilo, and Shae, whose family loyalty often manifests itself in divergent ways owing to their very different personalities. Of course, the most violent rivalry occurs between the No Peak and Mountain clans. Jade City also hints at the conflict between Kekon and foreign countries, which will become a major focus later in the series.

Fonda Lee adopts a fully immersive approach to worldbuilding in Jade City. This is a bit disorienting at first but soon rewards the reader, pulling them into the story. Jade City has a cinematic quality that reminds me of watching The Godfather or Goodfellas. Fonda Lee’s writing is so captivating that, as a reader, I felt like an extra on the set of a movie, watching the action up-close.

Speaking of action, Fonda Lee is especially adept at writing fight scenes. As a black belt martial artist, the detail that Fonda Lee brings to these sequences makes them feel especially realistic. Moreover, the enhanced abilities provided by jade remind me of the best fight scenes from Hong Kong and Taiwanese martial arts movies. The emotional intensity of these action sequences is matched by several heartbreaking scenes throughout the novel.

Jade City is a breathtakingly original, pulse-pounding urban fantasy and a triumph in every sense. Jade City is the first book in Fonda Lee’s Green Bone Saga, which continues with Jade War and Jade Legacy.
Profile Image for Philip.
513 reviews683 followers
April 28, 2022
4.75ish stars.

Blown away. The holy trinity of great characterization, unique world-building, and well-written prose. In that sense I'm reminded of the Broken Earth series (starting with The Fifth Season), which is the only recent series I can think of that has reached the same distinction. I'm one of the nerds that has to read each of the novels nominated for the Nebula award even if I probably wouldn’t have otherwise. Glad I did in this case, because I would have been missing out!

Initially I got similar vibes to Ken Liu's The Grace of Kings which is a book I struggled with, especially in the thin characterizations, but I soon got such a good sense of each member of the Kaul family and how distinct each one is from the others. They're fascinating on their own, but also in the context of their interfamilial relationships. I definitely have my favorites, but each of them is a real person with relatable traits and minds, sometimes frustratingly so (because I want to kidney punch them for the doing the same stupid things I know I'd do in their situations).

It's cool how this is basically Urban Fantasy and High Fantasy in one. It takes place in an alternate world, similar to ours in age/technology, etc. but while Kekon, where the story takes place, is increasingly becoming a metropolis, more modern and relevant in society, it also has an ancient, timeless feel. And while it's beginning to integrate itself into a world from which it has traditionally been isolated, it is also decidedly set apart (and not only because it's an island). There are a lot of elements of wuxia fiction, which is cool when it's combined with such modern sentiments.

Lee delivers the dialogue very well and provides good descriptions as well as tidy, efficient prose. I'm impressed with this book and hope it gains the attention it deserves.

Posted in Mr. Philip's Library
Profile Image for ❄️BooksofRadiance❄️.
614 reviews764 followers
August 14, 2019

You wrote the book I was desperately searching for but didn’t know I was searching until I found it.

- A brilliantly constructed, brutal mob-like family saga.

- Epic territorial clan showdown between two jade-wielding clans known as Green Bones - the No Peak clan and the Mountain clan.

- Fight sequences so descriptive and vivid it’s like you’re watching a mothefucking badass martial arts movie.

- And the characters? I haven’t felt this level of connection with characters I encountered since Beartown.
Especially, Hilo
And Anden. Ah, these three. These three! Enough said.

- All set in an Asian inspired metropolis - the island of Kekon, with Asian history, myth and culture incorporated.
How did Lee know my soul?

There is SO SO SO SO much more that goes down in this oh-so-fucking-wonderful fantasy that I haven’t even begun to scratch the surface.

Profile Image for Em Lost In Books.
905 reviews1,818 followers
June 6, 2018
I stumbled upon this book on pure chance, had not even known the existence of this title. I was going through list of last year’s releases and found this. Blurb sound interesting and someone has described this as “Godfather meets Crouching Tiger Hidden Dragon". I usually don’t pay attention to these lines but damn I love those two movies. Hence I ended up reading sooner than expected, and this book did not disappoint me.

So this book tells us the story of Clan War between No Peak and the Mountain. On the Kekon island generation ago Warriors with the magic of Jade fought foreign invaders. Now their descendants peacefully rules Kekon peacefully. But slowly No Peak sees that Mountain clan is invading their territory and matters soon takes bloody turn.

Story is told in PoV of No Peak Clan, namely Kaul, the leader; Hilo, the second in command (and also the most feared), and their sister Shae, who left the family after falling in love with a foreigner. While deeply flawed and broken, their love for each other and family binds them in a thread and no matter how angry their personal choices makes these siblings, family and clan always comes first. Lee has represented anger, calm, desperation, love, and so many other emotions through these characters. She has wrapped these three characters in multiple layers, and as the story progressed she peeled them one by one, showing us the real character.

One aspect of this book that I loved here was the representation of women. They’re strong, brave, intelligent, fearless, schemer, fearsome, capable of leadership, and soft when situation calls for. They are not someone who would hide behind their men; they’d face every situation head on.

This was a very engaging book for me. Only after few pages I was hooked. Highly recommended.
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
852 reviews3,882 followers
February 15, 2021
Update 01/09 : rereading it with شيماء ✨ because her texts made it impossible for me to stay away from Hilo and also I MISS HIM-

First I'd like to clear the air and say that although I probably ought to be a better person by now, let it be known that I'll shamelessly judge you if you don't read Jade City. I wouldn't go as far as saying that we can't be friends if you don't, but, hey, we never know.


Jade City is the kind of books that make me second guess all my recent 5 stars reads - even if I know for a fact that it's just ridiculous. Loving something shouldn't dim the brilliance of everything else. Now, I make a - entirely mental, and mostly unnoticed - distinction between my 5 stars reads. Some earn 5 stars because for me, they do their job, either to make me smile or escape or fear.

Others, well. Other earn 5 stars because they enter my personal Graal and I'll recommend them to all my friends because THEY'RE THAT GOOD.

Jade City? Dude. It was already part of the second category before I reached the halfway point, and it kept getting better and better. READ THAT BOOK. DO IT. NOW. 

If you need to know why, well, I guess you'll have to read on : welcome, dear readers, and buckle up, because it's gonna be a long ride.

Welcome to Kekon, centerpiece of what Fonda Lee called "a heady blend of gangster epic, family saga, and martial arts fantasy." (YES)

I often regret that so many Fantasy novels confuse world-building with settings : for the reader to be truly immersed, merely crafting a place cannot be enough : one needs a complex political landscape, an History - completed with a mythology if we're lucky - not to mention living languages including expressions, traditions, laws. Kekon, the imaginary country of Jade City- inspired by Taiwan, Hong Kong, Singapore, and Okinawa - checks all these boxes.

Janloon, the capital city and heart of the story, feels equally magical and real, I was there, instantly, from the very first page. Indeed the many well-thought details make this vivid, ruthless world ring true.

Janloon, a growing city that stands proud, decades after an Independence War that saw the jade bearers - the powerful Green Bones - took the future into their hands.

Janloon, a city divided between two clans : No Peak and The Mountain.

Jade City is, at heart, a saga of family duty, and the family you'll fall in love with - just so you know, flaws and all - is the ruling family of No Peak, the Kauls. The old alliance between No Peak and The Mountain, necessary to outmatch the colonizers during the war, is slowly crippling, and the tension keeps growing, keeping you glued to your book, frantically turning the pages until you realize that everything is fair game and that you'd best keep your heart in check.

Too often Fantasy novels constructed with multiple POV force you to admit early on that some POVs capture your interest much more than others. I swear, I didn't feel anything approaching during most of Jade City but rather, I kept thinking NO NO THIS ONE IS MY FAVE every time the POV changed. Every. Damn. Time. I did grow more attached to one character in particular - and my friends won't be surprised in the slightest - but it does not mean that I resented the parts spent through the eyes of other characters. NEVER.

And that can be explained quite easily when we know that all the characters are fleshed-out, three dimensional and utterly fascinated me. Lan, Hilo, Shae, Anden, to name the main ones. They all have this little something special that made me truly invested in their life. None of them are Manichean and we can't always condone their actions. They're wonderfully grey and I loved them deeply all the more.

Moreover, the family dynamics are COMPLEX and so HEARTFELT and GENUINE and YES, I need to yell about it because that's SO RARE?

Lan, the Pillar, is a kind and measured leader but struggles to live up to his granddad tremendous expectations : can he harmonize the heartbreaking duality inherent to his role as Pillar of No Peak, when his family needs him to be both reasonable and ferocious?

Hilo, the Horn, leads his Finger and Fists into the brutality of the gang wars with charisma and cunning. On edge, unpredictable, so ruthless and yet so fiercely protective of his family and loved ones (yes, he's my fave. Don't judge me. He's so flawed so of course I adore him) (also I love his humor, I don't know what that says about me?)

Shae, the returning daughter who wants no part of the clan life but still cares deeply about her overbearing family, is searching for her identity, torn between her family and her hunger for peace and personal achievement.

Anden, the adopted son, biracial and gay, who tries not to be ruled by his doubts but lives with the constant fear of following the path of his dead mother's life - I want to protect him at all costs.

... and so many more. I particularly appreciated that Janloon wasn't devoid of women. You know, what happens so often in fantasy novels? Plus the main female leads - Shae and in a minor way, Wen - don't "owe" their development and growth to an attempted rape - overused trope that, again, I can't stand anymore - and achieve what they want through different ways, which I loved. Sure, Kekon is still a patriarchal and misogynistic society at its core, and it's still way too hard for men to give away an ounce of their powers, more often than not. Yet they're here, they matter, they're not faire-valoir. Thank you for that.

Finally - I always appreciate getting to know the opponents in a novel, because failing that, they often lack the layers needed to make them believable and real characters. Admittedly, few chapters were narrated in their point of view in Jade City, but as far as I'm concerned it was enough to understand their motivations and hence make the plot more complex.

First of all, I wanted to share this excerpt from an interview Fonda Lee gave to Lightspeed Magazine, because it perfectly captured everything that made Jade City so refreshing and unique :

As a second generation Asian American, that means finding inspiration from both Western and Eastern stories. I grew up surrounded and engrossed by Western fiction—Star Trek, Star Wars, The Lord of the Rings, and so on—stories where there were rarely, if ever, any characters that looked like me and my family members. Only in early adulthood did I start really seeking out fiction from Asian sources—kung fu films, Hong Kong crime dramas, wuxia comic books. I found a lot to love, and that cross-cultural pollination in my brain is a wonderful source of ideas for me. In that sense, I think Jade City is a very Asian-American work.

She added later that she wanted to create a heady blend of gangster epic, family saga, and martial arts fantasy, and to that I say : BRAVO. It was fantastic from start to finish.

I wouldn't want to spoil your read, and trust me on this, less you know about the plot, more you'll enjoy Jade City : albeit its instant attractiveness, this novel takes cares of reminding the reader that its world is nasty. People lie, corrupt, kill. If they love so strongly, one should not forget that love isn't always enough.

Political schemes, violent street war, internal struggles, twists and turns - I was captivated. The sudden changes of rhythm brought an uncertainty, a sentiment of anguish very interesting to the plot, and thus made the reading experience even better. Truly, I loved everything : the slow cunning phases, the fast, nasty fights, the emotional hardships... My heart started beating erratically more than once. I was so invested in the Kaul's family story, I couldn't breathe. One should remember when diving in : this gem of a book is harsh, sometimes brutal, and doesn't shy away from violence. I adored it, but I strongly advise you to look at the content warnings listed below.

That's not all, though : a world-building so rich wouldn't be content without the rise of broader issues, such as colonization and war. There's so much potential to look for in the sequel.

Finally, the writing is compelling, imaginative - see, for example, the names of the different status in the clan, inspired by esoteric titles used by the Chinese Triads but original all the same - and I really enjoyed the dialogues (especially Hilo's, whose witty remarks made my day).

► The sequel can't come out soon enough. All-time favorite and highly recommended.

CW - graphic violence, death, cruelty to animals, addiction, drug, mention of sexual child abuse, gore, sex scenes, ableist words unchallenged, racial slur

The author's introduction : [youtube https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=CnMFW...]

For more of my reviews, please visit:
Profile Image for Marzuqa.
63 reviews57 followers
January 22, 2021
Guess who just found a new favorite? Man, I can’t gush enough about this book. This gangster fantasy saga was captivating from the get-go. It feels like a rare find being an Asian inspired story that has so many things going on - there’s magic, martial arts, family drama, gang rivalry, politics and of course.. a lot of Jade.

Every part of this book added meaning to the story beautifully. I was afraid it would drag in some parts because of it’s length, but this was fast paced and action packed. And the characters, uhh, I loved every single one of them. The character development is so intense and mature with such complex relationships amongst themselves that make this book particularly compelling to read.

This was a perfect treat for my drama/fantasy loving heart and I can’t wait to get my hands on more of this.
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,048 reviews1,382 followers
June 23, 2019
This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription

“Expectations are a funny thing,” Wen said. “When you’re born with them, you resent them, fight against them. When you’ve never been given any, you feel the lack of them your whole life.”

🌟 I BR this with my friend Fares, he wrote a great review too so I need to go all out now! I am not a big fan of mafia and Yakuza and all these real life gangster thing! I don’t watch movies including them as I feel they are all the same and they make me uncomfortable!

🌟 I heard great things about this book from many friends I trust and that’s why I decided to pick it up. I remember it being a self published book before being published by Orbit! I took all of that in consideration while gathering my thoughts and while reading the book.

🌟 This is the first book I read by Fonda Lee and I actually like her writing style, it takes a bit of concentration and the beginning was a bit slow but it is all worth it. I have been having a middle-reading-Life crisis (more on that on a separate post) and this book confirmed some things I already knew, I should be reading more adult fantasy books!

🌟 I have difficulties in retaining character names and the names were kind of difficult for someone who is not familiar with Asian names but I tried to connect them with things and people I know and it worked, I should mention that the author also writes from a 3rd person POV and she did a great job in introducing them slowly yet surely!
As Fares mentioned in his review, these are family members of a clan that is basically a gang, I can’t say that I relate to them but I felt their struggles! I think good writing should make you care about the characters and I did care about them. (You can’t relate to Harry Potter for example as you are not a wizard, yet you do care for him!!). I liked Lan’s self control and his desire to find a solution for problems without causing a war, Shae is great and calculating and has a good self control, she fought against all odds and traditions to achieve her goals, Andy my favorite is a Valedictorian and he feels he does not belong to his people and lives under tremendous expectations (I am Andy xD) and Hilo is a good human inside and cares about family but he has anger issues. There are other characters and all played an important role. I still remember the names of these after a few days of finishing the book and that should say something about them!

“She thought, Two strong-minded women in a man’s world, if they do not quickly become allies, are destined to be incurable rivals.”

🌟 The plot is good, I did not know what to expect and the things I expected did NOT happen and I like that! There is a great focus on financial and political intrigue, so if you like that, you will mostly like this novel. The fighting scenes were a bit lacking and I wanted more of them. The synopsis explains the plot well and I suck at writing summaries so no need to play an expert!

🌟 The world building is good, I am satisfied, I just read the author’s answer to a question explaining that in the next books she will be exploring more of the world and there will be international forces coming into the game which shows that there is still potential. I prefer when we are geographically limited to an area as that makes it easier to concentrate! I also like when authors build a magic system and shows how the world is affected by it! I think another thing Fares pointed out was the lack of focus on money (Seriously people, you need to do BR with Fares, he’s the best!) and he asked me what was the currency called and I didn’t know, he mentioned that it has a name but I think more lights should have been focused on money for a story of this kind!

🌟 Speaking of Magic systems, I did like the concept but I think it could have been more well executed and there was a wasted potential indeed. Fares and I kept having the Mistborn vibes but we also decided it won’t be fair to compare these two authors. But the author should have used the school tournament for example to explain the magic system such as V.E. Schwab did in AGOS. That would have added more action and a clearer magic system!

🌟 Summary: As you can see I have mixed feelings about this, and while most of my thoughts are positive, there are a few things that could have been improved! I like that the author did most of the job by herself and it was worth it, I will be most definitely reading book 2 very soon!

“Any old horse will run when it’s whipped, but only fast enough to avoid the whipping,” Hilo said. “Racehorses, though, they run because they look at the horse on their left, they look at the one on their right, and they think, No way am I second to these fuckers.”

A BR with the Still King of Puns
Profile Image for Fares.
246 reviews314 followers
June 18, 2019
3.5 stars

I’m gonna take this first line right here to recommend this book right away, I mean I really do see why people would love this, so give it a try you never know.

If you told me before I started this that it’s a fantasy with a yakuza like clans in the early 1900s with cars, guns, planes and they use magic in jade stones. I would’ve said that I don’t know how I feel about this.
And I still don’t.


If I must give one reason and one reason only to my lack of enjoyment for this book it’d be that I didn’t really relate to any of these characters, and at one point I even told Hamad, if any of them die I wouldn’t really care (how heartless of me!🙂)

And to go 180 degrees against what I just said. I really like the female characters in this book! No, they are not my favorite or anything like that but I felt the struggle they went thru to get where they are now. And I’ll be honest I thought sometimes that maybe they are exaggerating bc there wasn’t this leading male figure that stopped them nor there were any rules that discriminate on sex grounds.
But it was apparent in the society, in the very male stacked hierarchy of the clan and once I read on I actually appreciated this book more. One, because it didn’t just put one male as the bad guy and be like get rid of him and society will fix automatically, this problem goes way deeper than that, and two it showed me how ignorant I can be sometimes, I mean after all I don’t have the smallest idea on what’s like being a woman.

Other than that, I must say Lan, Hilo, Shae and Anden all felt very unrelatable to me. They weren’t bad or anything, but you know how basically every character in a fantasy has someone in their family dead when they were kids? As much as overused that is, it’s basically a way to sympathize with the characters. These characters do have a past, but it’s also the family business that makes me not sympathize nor empathize really. Can I really empathize with a mafia like clan leaders that are fighting for territory and trying to monopolize the most valuable substance in this world?
This is not to say that these characters don’t have struggles like any normal person would, they definitely do but here’s the thing, none of those characters showed sympathy to others, and I mean outside the clan, if we talk inside the clan then yes they did but that only makes me feel even stronger about this, it makes me think of tribalism, and believe it or not I still witness it in the real world and I don’t like it!

The romance was lacking and I didn’t enjoy the rare moments anything romantic happened, and that’s that.


Here’s an idea that seems not to exist. How about an Urban Fantasy that actually has some traveling done in it?!

Granted I haven’t read many Urban Fantasies but seriously what’s up with that? The High and Epic fantasies are filled with characters doing nothing but traveling and now with the modern setting and all the technologies available you choose one state to be the entire world?!
The only Urban Fantsy I read that showed other countries was Daughter of Smoke and Bone and I loved it when it did that!

I didn’t really notice the lack of world building in this book till later on. There are mentions of other places and one character did study abroad, but there weren’t like any races or cultural differences apparent in this book.
But okay let’s say this book is Asian and on its own is different from all the European fantasies out there. Here’s the problem tho, money is part of world building and I only noticed it when two characters were discussing money and they mentioned the currency in this world. I was nearing the end of the book so it struck me that I didn’t even know what currency they use in this world? So, I searched the ebook to see if maybe I missed it, and the first mention of the “dien” currency is on CHAPTER 42!!! It is so bazar that in a book about mafia, territory and dealings it takes this long to mention money! More than that the currency is mentioned 4 times in the entire book in just 3 chapters.
I would've loved to see more of this world, I actually was fooled by the map at the beginning of the book and thought this would be a good one on that regard.

Magic system

It was good but unfortunately could’ve been so so much better this had great potentials! I’m talking allumancy (Mistborn) good. But no, it wasn’t very well explained and I can ask a dozen question and not have answers to how it works, and unfortunately, nothing suggests this would be explained in future books.
The other thing I must say is Anden is at an academy that teaches how to master jade powers and not get addicted to it. I thought this is the perfect setup to teach us (the readers) about how it works but almost all of Anden POV were not school related, he talked about trials but we never seen him undertake any. I admit that a school for magic/assassin is beginning to be an overused thing and I’m a tiny bit happy about it but also I needed to understand more, and now that I think about it why does this school even exists? I understand the point of it but what I don’t understand is how much do these people know about jade to start a school for it?!


The plot was good, it’s not quite like anything I read before and it did grip me for some moments of the book when I felt like the characters are lacking. I don’t want t spoil anything, the book is about two brothers their sister and a cousin they have, the siblings are the leaders of a clan and we go with them as they go head to head with their rivals to see who gets to call the shots around here and have the jade, it’s all about the jade in the end.

Other than that, I can’t say much except the writing was good, and after all what I said I didn’t feel bored reading this, I enjoyed it and I hope you do too.

Buddy read with Still GR's #1
Profile Image for Starlah.
393 reviews1,589 followers
January 5, 2022
Upon my reread, I still LOVE this and am now saying this is one of my favorite fantasy stories (and maybe series)!

The Greenbone saga is an Asian-inspired urban fantasy story set in the fictional place of Kekon. There is a substance called Jade and some people are able to wear it and it causes them to become faster, stronger, and just an all-around better fighter. The production and selling of this very powerful substance are controlled by two crime families. They also control other things like businesses. In this, we follow several perspectives, primarily within one of these powerful families, the Kauls. The main plot of this story begins when a turf war begins between our two crime families.

There are so many layers to this story and so much attention to detail! At the same time, it's very easy to follow. The political intrigue in this is so unique with both the actual political system as well as within the clans. There is a very cool and complex magic system.

The plot is an excellent mix of action, magic, world-building, and setting up for the whole series. It's the perfect pace, not too fast or slow. The writing is one of my favorite aspects of the story! Fonda Lee is incredible!! There was never a moment I was bored reading this!

But my true love lies in the characters. So many of them are anti-heroes, which is one of my favorite types of protagonists! They're magical gangsters but not in the way you may think. They value honor and have a code they live and die by. They are so well fleshed out and have so many layers to them! They make me emotional! Also, we get an entire POC cast!

Overall, Fonda Lee is a goddess and an incredible writer. The world she has created here is unique while still being infused with so many elements from classic epic and urban fantasies. The characters have so much depth and are fascinating to read. They are complex and unpredictable! The plot was clever. This is just a perfect book and I cannot rave about it enough!
April 4, 2021

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

I'm a commitment-phobe when it comes to books. Long books scare me. I like the idea of long books, and the satisfaction that comes from reading one to completion, but it's a long and grueling road to that satisfaction. JADE CITY is a long book. Goodreads says it's not even 500 pages but I'm pretty sure that's a lie. It took me several days to finish JADE CITY, when I can normally read several shorter books in a day. But commitment-phobe tendencies aside, there's really no way I'm going to miss out on a book that the author herself describes as a "wuxia gangster saga." Plus, friendships were at stake. I sucked it up; I read the book.

JADE CITY has a young adult-looking cover, but it is not a young adult book. It takes place in an alternate universe China-like country called Kekon where power lies with those special few who get magical superpowers from jade. The entire economy and power dynamic are based around who has the jade, and other countries want in. Unfortunately, only people who are Kekonese-born can naturally use jade. If you're an outsider, you have to use a drug called "Shine" but it can make you scratch all your skin off and shaves a couple decades off your life because it's hard on your body. But hey - superpowers.


The main narrators are Lan and Hilo, the two brothers who will inherit their grandfather's jade empire when he dies; their sister, Shae, who gave up her jade to live and work in a foreign country and has now returned to mend some of her burned bridges; Anden, a biracial and gay teen who is currently at a boarding school that is grooming him to become one of the jade mobsters while also doing boring things like math; and Bero, a boring-ass thug who got his first taste of jade and will do anything to get more. Anything. I don't normally like books with tons of POVs, but most of the characters in this book are interesting. The only one I didn't like was Bero, but thankfully, his parts were small.

The best way to describe this book is Mistborn meets Game of Thrones. Mistborn has a similar magic system where people get powers from metals (and bad things happen when they use too much) and the power struggles between different jade factions and outsiders were reminiscent of Game of Thrones' various wars and power coups. The title of the next book in the series, JADE WAR, makes me suspect that there's going to be even more of this, especially considering some of the treacherous things that those Mountain clans did to the Green Bones in this installment. Eep.

If you're into dark fantasy, JADE CITY is a good read. It's a bit longer than I'd like - I have trouble rationalizing books with long page counts, since most of them don't really need everything in them - but the pages go by pretty fast, considering. Plus, it's Asian-inspired fantasy that actually does the legwork integrating culture, religion, and tradition into its world-building, rather than just doing the book-equivalent of jangling its keys at you and being all, "Look~ easily recognizable symbols of archaic Orientalism!" That was incredibly refreshing, and one of the best parts of the book for me.

3.5 stars
Displaying 1 - 30 of 9,150 reviews

Can't find what you're looking for?

Get help and learn more about the design.