Emma's Reviews > Jade War

Jade War by Fonda Lee
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Sixteen months have passed since the violent and tragic events of Jade City and the No Peak Clan are far from safe. But it’s not just the Clans at war. The outside world wants in. Jade is a commodity right at the top of everybody’s list and they’re willing to pay for it, in bundles of cash or oceans of blood. Trying to prevent foreign governments, criminal gangs, smugglers, street thugs and everyone in between from taking what doesn’t belong to them makes for interesting alliances, underhand politics, and more than a little bloodshed. No Peak can’t do it alone, but there’s only one other Clan who can help… And it doesn’t take years of Green Bone training to work out that inviting a snake like Ayt Mada in to your home means that you’re going to get bit. There are hard choices to be made. But the Kaul family will do what they must to protect each other, their jade, and their Clan. The stakes are nothing short of their lives.

It’s no understatement to say that Fonda Lee has improved on the first book in every way. While this is most evident in the characterisations, it applies equally to the world-building and plot. Everything is more vibrant, better realised. This feels like a whole new world. Accordingly, while Jade City offered some notion of what was outside of Kekon, this time the stage is truly international. And just like it says in the title, this is a WAR. One that will determine not only the future of the Clans, but Kekon and its place in the world heirarchy. It’s all about power and the deadly games people play to get it, or keep hold of it. The knives are out and nobody is safe.

Yet what gives this book an extra something is that it doesn’t lose sight of how all this political and military bargaining affects real people. From the plight of refugees created by proxy wars and used as bargain chips, to the trickle down persecution of Kekonese immigrants in Espenia, this is real life recreated. Proof, if needed, that Fonda Lee knows not only her world, but ours. Her characters show that in spades. Whatever you might want them to be, they are nothing more or less than themselves. Love them or loathe them, the author always gives us enough to understand them. To the eternal dismay of my buddy readers, I still don’t like Hilo. But I get him. And I can see how skilfully the author creates a reader's emotional investment in my own reaction to Anden, who I genuinely adore. The exploration of his sexuality, of what it means to be himself within his family, or as part of a Kekonese community in Janloon or Espenia is so relatable, so perfectly done that it actually made me somewhat aggrieved when I had to read other POVs. His role as something of an oppositional or questioning force allows a multifaceted exploration of the morality of the ideas and actions of the Kaul family and the Green Bone way of life. It rips away the glamour to reveal what’s hidden beneath- the suffering and loss and scrabbling in the dirt as life bleeds away…

For me, these improvements created something which I hardly felt in the first book: genuine tension. The last 20-30% of Jade War is all out, full-on, page turning fun. It’s made of bold choices, danger, and death. There’s blood and magic, surprises and satisfaction. Best of all, there are more than a few scenes that make you hold your breath, moments that could change the game for some of the players. Or end it. And if that’s not enough, there’s Bero. Ah, Bero. An annoyingly lucky character, and an increasing favourite, is turning into something close to comedy gold. He’s a nobody, a failure, a mistake, but he’s always right there at the turning points of the story. Even if Anden wins my favourite character award, it’s Bero who raises a smile as I wonder what trouble he’s going to get himself into next. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he ends up the Pillar of the reunited Clans…. Who the hell knows?? Whatever happens, we know he’ll do it badly and with a serious attitude to boot. I can’t wait.

At its heart Jade War is about the choices people make. It’s about personal morality and what happens when that clashes with the bonds of family and loyalty, it’s about acting under pressure and doing what needs to be done, it’s about trying to find the ‘right’ way forward even knowing there will be consequences. And trust me, there are.

ARC via Netgalley
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Reading Progress

July 7, 2019 – Started Reading
July 7, 2019 – Shelved
July 7, 2019 – Shelved as: fantasybookreview
July 12, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-2 of 2 (2 new)

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message 1: by TS (new) - rated it 5 stars

TS Chan Eternal dismay is spot on, Em 😣
Loved how you described Bero 😅

Emma TS wrote: "Eternal dismay is spot on, Em 😣
Loved how you described Bero 😅"

I’m desperate to find out what happens to Bero!! 😂😂

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