TS Chan's Reviews > Jade War

Jade War by Fonda Lee
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it was amazing
bookshelves: arc-review-copy, favorites

The much-awaited and absolutely fantastic sequel in The Green Bone Saga, Jade War is out this week!

ARC provided by the publisher—Orbit—in exchange for an honest review.

Jade War is a magnificent sequel that brilliantly showcases the immense potential of urban fantasy, without resorting to typical mythological elements.

The author mentioned in the acknowledgements about the "seemingly impossible task of following up the biggest, most ambitious novel" she's ever written with "an even bigger and more ambitious novel". If that's the case, Fonda Lee has then achieved the seemingly impossible as the second novel in The Green Bone Saga excelled over the first in every possible way. From the plotting to the worldbuilding to the characters, every component worked so well in the sequel that it gave me sheer joy reading Jade War.

In the first book, Jade City, the narrative was centred mainly on the feuding two most powerful clans of Kekon and the setting focussed within the city of Janloon.  Since then, we've heard of the larger countries and continents outside of Kekon, such as Espenia and Ygutan but it was merely spoken of by the characters. As all good sequels should, this novel expands the worldbuilding by bringing the reader to the further shores of Espenia, to the city of Port Massy - the world's largest trade centre - where the use or ownership of jade by civilians is illegal, a stark contrast to the culture amongst the Kekonese. The city settings of both Janloon and Port Massy are also equally incongruous. Janloon (which already sounded so much like Kowloon) is redolent of everything that is Hong Kong, while Port Massy evokes New York City.

Against this evocative backdrop, the story of the Kaul family was brought to life with masterful characterisation. Hilo, Shae, Anden, Wen, Kehn and Tar - all so lovingly crafted that they feel so alive and so real. Every single one of these characters is convincingly portrayed, through their thoughts, emotions and actions. There were so much growth and development in each one of these characters that it was so satisfying to read. Hilo has even become one of my favourite fictional male characters. He inspired the same feeling I got while reading about Kaladin from The Stormlight Archive, which is saying A LOT given that the latter is my all-time favourite. He still has that smouldering yet disarming demeanour, a dangerous edge and violent tendency, but he is unfailingly protective of his family and loved ones. And he will do whatever it takes, no matter the cost, to keep his family safe and his clan together.  His is the type of leadership that inspires undying loyalty as he takes the pain to interact with everyone personally.  In my opinion, he also has the most compelling character arc in the trilogy to date, followed very closely by Anden, Wen and Shae.  Speaking of Wen and Shae, these two female characters couldn't be more different in terms of their jade abilities, but both are equally smart, competent and courageous.  Wen, especially, simply amazes me with her bravery.  She has so much heart and fierce compassion.

Having the benefit of growing up watching HK gangster movies enhanced my experience of reading these books. The scenes easily translated into vivid images in my head, especially when aided by the cinematic quality of Fonda Lee's writing. Together with the well-conceived plot and superb pacing of the narrative, Jade War was exceedingly engrossing. The last quarter of the book ratchets up the intensity even further as the subplots unravelled into the proverbial shit hits the fan. There were many great highlights in this novel, from the badass fight/action scenes (again, so reminiscent of Mistborn, especially of the later era) to the poignant and heartbreaking, and a shockingly contentious one; like prime-time drama skillfully rendered in prose form.

I adore stories which have such strong emphasis and powerful takes on familial love, clans and honour codes, and this trilogy has it in spades. Adding in the magically endowed kungfu abilities, and more crucially, compelling characterisation, Jade War was easily one of my favourites and best urban fantasy books I've ever read. I think even non-fantasy readers can appreciate this trilogy, especially for fans of gangster stories like The Godfather. The Green Bones can simply be viewed as super soldiers, albeit with more power than strength, speed and ability; you know, like deflecting bullets, and snapping spines or stopping hearts with just the right touch.  I seriously and wholeheartedly recommend The Green Bone Saga.

Official release date: July 25th, 2019 (UK) and July 23rd, 2019 (US)

You can pre-order the book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository (Free shipping)

You can also find this, and my other reviews at Novel Notions.
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Reading Progress

July 9, 2019 – Started Reading
July 9, 2019 – Shelved
July 9, 2019 – Shelved as: arc-review-copy
July 13, 2019 – Shelved as: favorites
July 13, 2019 – Finished Reading

Comments Showing 1-10 of 10 (10 new)

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THE BIBLIOPHILE (Rituranjan) I have the first book. Haven't Haven't got to reading it yet..


message 2: by TS (last edited Jul 15, 2019 07:58AM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

TS Chan THE BIBLIOPHILE wrote: "I have the first book. Haven't Haven't got to reading it yet.."

Read it.. NOW!!! You won't regret it. 😋


message 3: by ChopinFC (new)

ChopinFC What an awesome enthusiastic review my friend! Don't think I ever came across 'urban' fantasy before.


message 4: by TS (new) - rated it 5 stars

TS Chan ChopinFC wrote: "What an awesome enthusiastic review my friend! Don't think I ever came across 'urban' fantasy before."

Thank you, my friend.
Wait, you've not read ANY urban fantasy?? Oh man, you need to address that deficiency, pronto! :P


Andrew So glad to hear this is great, can't wait to get my hands on a copy! Jade City is one of my favourite books, I keep buying copies to give people as gifts.


message 6: by TS (new) - rated it 5 stars

TS Chan Andrew wrote: "So glad to hear this is great, can't wait to get my hands on a copy! Jade City is one of my favourite books, I keep buying copies to give people as gifts."

Oh you'll love it then. It's even better than Jade City. And good on you to spread the love around. 🤗


message 7: by ChopinFC (new)

ChopinFC TS wrote: "ChopinFC wrote: "What an awesome enthusiastic review my friend! Don't think I ever came across 'urban' fantasy before."

Thank you, my friend.
Wait, you've not read ANY urban fantasy?? Oh man, you..."


Just bought 'Jade City' kindle for $1.99! 🙌🏻🖖👏🏻


message 8: by TS (new) - rated it 5 stars

TS Chan ChopinFC wrote: "Just bought 'Jade City' kindle for $1.99! 🙌🏻🖖👏🏻"

Hurrah!!! I hope you'll love it too.


message 9: by Matt (new)

Matt I’ve got the first book, I think need to get reading ASAP as from your review this series sounds awesome


message 10: by TS (last edited Jul 25, 2019 03:48PM) (new) - rated it 5 stars

TS Chan Matt wrote: "I’ve got the first book, I think need to get reading ASAP as from your review this series sounds awesome"

Oh, it really is! What I love about it is that it’s so different from the usual urban fantasy, and of cos being Chinese, the homage to HK gangster movies was just too nostalgic. Hope you’ll enjoy it too.


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