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Jade City (The Green Bone Saga, #1)
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Jade City > JC: Why I'm obsessed with this book (no spoilers)

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Dara (cmdrdara) | 2693 comments Since I've been not so low-key championing this book since I read it in December, I thought I'd list the many reasons why I've been obsessed with it.

It's a unique setting: I love the world Fonda Lee created. So many fantasy books are a western European medieval analog or modern day urban fantasy. Lee's Asian influenced fantasy world set in a 60s/70s era is refreshing. I hadn't read anything like it before. People have TVs, telephones, and boat-sized cars. The setting gives the story character.

The characters are dynamic: This is primarily a family drama. The Kauls are sort of settling into a new normal. Lan is finding his way as the Pillar. Hilo is flexing his muscle as the Horn. Shae is newly returned to Janloon and is searching for a way to forge a new life for herself outside of the clan. Anden is struggling with school. Events occur that throw the Kauls into flux. Each character progresses and grows as they find a way to cope with what happens. They're faced with choices they aren't entirely prepared to deal with and it shapes them in interesting ways.

The magic is dope: Lee doesn't get into the nitty gritty on how jade works or how Green Bones harness its power - and that's totally okay with me. I like the mystery. All I need to know is Green Bones can use jade to amplify their own abilities. And that leads to...

Amazing fight scenes: They fights in this book are so much fun to read. They're bad-ass. It's like watching a great kung-fu film. The way that jade enhances the Green Bone's ability to Steel themselves or Deflect a hit is really entertaining.

Okay, I've rambled long enough. What did you guys like about the book? Are you as pumped for Jade War as I am? (Probably not. I have a problem).


Trike | 8455 comments I am absolutely pumped for the sequel. So far this is my favorite book of the year. I shall be your co-champion in this battle!



Along with your excellent points, I really like how the characters are all distinct. They each have their own personalities and outlooks, and the family dynamics that have shaped them are clear. Lee has nailed the sibling relationships perfectly. Lan as the firstborn behaves the way firstborn brothers do. The younger hotheaded brother is perfectly realized. The youngest child being protected and indulged is also spot on. This is something I see playing out again and again in my own family, another example of stereotypes having a kernel of truth to them.

The setting is so, so great. I asked Lee on Twitter if my impression that this was taking place around 1960 was correct, and she confirmed it is. The book just exudes that swaggering, post-war, pre-Beatles, Mad Men, Rat Pack vibe. It’s the worlds of James Bond and Bruce Lee colliding and combining. It’s Italian sportscars and Mercedes limos cruising the Hong Kong waterfront.

I also like the magic and the fact it doesn’t need explaining beyond its effects. Jade is power and addiction made manifest.

I like that Lee is unflinching in her storytelling. It feels real and gritty without being grimdark. After all, these are gangsters engaging in dangerous activity, so blood will be spilled. In that regard it reads almost like the history of any organized crime enterprise.

I’m super stoked for more in this world.


Dara (cmdrdara) | 2693 comments Trike wrote: "I like that Lee is unflinching in her storytelling. It feels real and gritty without being grimdark. After all, these are gangsters engaging in dangerous activity, so blood will be spilled. In that regard it reads almost like the history of any organized crime enterprise."

YES I love that as well. It never edges into gritty and dark for the sake of gritty and dark. The level of carnage matches what I expect for a criminal enterprise.

And I get serious nostalgia GTA3 vibes in this book. Makes me think of the good ol' days of rolling with the Yakuzas in fancy cars.


message 4: by Nathan (last edited Aug 02, 2018 11:06AM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Nathan (tenebrous) | 377 comments It is a small piece, but how a former colony makes its way with colonial or post-colonial powers provided interesting narrative spice.

Shae was perhaps the most interesting character in this sense. having both the most cosmopolitan background but also a very aspirational morality rooted in traditional religion. I think she finds beauty and truth wherever she can find it and seems to have a wider view than the other characters.

There is one scene with her that had me nodding my head in silent, but vigorous thanks to Ms. Lee.


message 5: by Jessica (last edited Aug 06, 2018 03:56PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Jessica (j-boo) | 322 comments Trike, I totally missed what you picked up on. I enjoyed the book back when I read it, but one thing I couldn't understand was why at a couple of crucial points in the story the characters didn't just pick up their cell phones. It wasn't until I saw an interview with Lee after having finished the book that I learned it was supposed to be set in the 1970s (I think that was it, but maybe I am misremembering and it was the 60s).

The names of cars and the fashions were probably big tip offs for many readers, but I know ZERO about 60s/70s cars and fashion (and almost as little about current cars and fashion), so that went right over my head. I figured the unfamiliar names were because the book 1) is set in a fantasy world that is 2) based off an area of the world I am not very familiar with.


Trike | 8455 comments I’m also a bit of a car guy and I’m 97% sure the car models are creations of Lee, but I’m not as conversant with Asian cars from that era.

True story:

While visiting some friends in Kentucky, we came back from dinner around 9 pm and found that their neighbor was talking to someone who had a souped-up Camaro. Turns out the neighbor’s hobby is hotrodding. As we were chatting with him I pointed to his car in the garage and asked, “Is that a ‘70 Charger?” He said it was.

The car was under a tarp in the rear of an unlighted garage at night. My friend’s wife looked at me in utter disbelief as if I had just conjured the answer via black magic. 😆


message 7: by John (Nevets) (new)

John (Nevets) Nevets (nevets) | 1551 comments I’m only a couple chapters in but the line that set the time frame for me revolves around someone being youngish, but still remembering a time before TV sets, and other modern convinces. They also mention the grandfather having a brand new color tv. That would also put the occupation of there island as being around WWII time in our world.


Ruth | 1040 comments John (Nevets) wrote: "I’m only a couple chapters in but the line that set the time frame for me revolves around someone being youngish, but still remembering a time before TV sets, and other modern convinces. They also ..."

I had pegged the ‘Many Nations War’ as being the equivalent of WW2. This happened about 25 years before the book’s timeframe, making the setting the 60s-70s.


Iain Bertram (iain_bertram) | 1334 comments The book has a SF vibe more than fantasy. The characters a very firmly rooted in the real.


message 10: by Dara (new) - rated it 5 stars

Dara (cmdrdara) | 2693 comments John (Nevets) wrote: "I’m only a couple chapters in but the line that set the time frame for me revolves around someone being youngish, but still remembering a time before TV sets, and other modern convinces. They also mention the grandfather having a brand new color tv. That would also put the occupation of there island as being around WWII time in our world."

That's what got me as well. Technology is an accepted part of modern life but not like today's world. Subways exist and freeways but it's not constantly plugging in like the 21st century.


Jessica (j-boo) | 322 comments Apparently I managed to overlook that part and/or its implications


Julie (3x5books) | 109 comments I was definitely getting some neat Cold War vibes from the Euman Island bits. Can’t wait to see how everything continues.


Oleksandr Zholud Jessica wrote: "after having finished the book that I learned it was supposed to be set in the 1970s (I think that was it, but maybe I am misremembering and it was the 60s)."


One clear giveaway was that a wealthy family of the protagonists only recently afforded a color TV for the granddad and in the first chapter we hear vinyl playing.


message 14: by Tassie Dave, S&L Historian (last edited Aug 11, 2018 02:17PM) (new) - rated it 4 stars

Tassie Dave | 3532 comments Mod
Pre-90s is going to be a popular time period for writers.
Everyone carrying mobile phones makes a lot of scenarios harder.

There were several situations in Jade City that could have been avoided with better communication.

(view spoiler)


Oleksandr Zholud Tassie Dave wrote: "There were several situations in Jade City that could have been avoided with better communication."

Jade magic can interfere with mobile devices (as an explanation magic can have any properties you'd like)


message 16: by Ruth (new) - rated it 5 stars

Ruth | 1040 comments Besides the characterisation, the other thing I really liked about this book was it feels very real and vivid. I want to see the sights of Janloon, visit the Deitist temple, and try the famous squid balls at the Twice Lucky.


message 17: by Mark (new) - rated it 4 stars

Mark (markmtz) | 2342 comments If Twice Lucky isn't open...

http://www.mamasguiderecipes.com/2017...


Nathan (tenebrous) | 377 comments Ruth wrote: "Besides the characterisation, the other thing I really liked about this book was it feels very real and vivid. I want to see the sights of Janloon, visit the Deitist temple, and try the famous squi..."

A visit to Taibei might help. Kekon seemed patterned more on Taiwan than anyplace else. Just my opinion.


Joe Informatico (joeinformatico) | 888 comments I liked this quite a bit, for mainly the same reasons Dara did. On a surface level, it reminded me of my current favourite fantasy series, Max Gladstone's Craft Sequence, in that both works describe a completely fictional fantastic secondary-world, but one inspired by our modern global industrialized civilization instead of our more distant past. Is there a subgenre name for urban fantasy that doesn't take place in the "real" world? (Secondary-world urban fantasy, maybe?) Gladstone and Fonda Lee have very different styles otherwise, but it's good to see variety in this kind of modern fantasy.


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