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Jade City | Fonda Lee

INFO

Title: Jade City
Author: Fonda Lee
Series: The Green Bone Saga
CW: Drug use
Genre: Fantasy

SYNOPSIS

JADE CITY is a gripping Godfather-esque saga of intergenerational blood feuds, vicious politics, magic, and kungfu.

The Kaul family is one of two crime syndicates that control the island of Kekon. It’s the only place in the world that produces rare magical jade, which grants those with the right training and heritage superhuman abilities.
The Green Bone clans of honorable jade-wearing warriors once protected the island from foreign invasion–but nowadays, in a bustling post-war metropolis full of fast cars and foreign money, Green Bone families like the Kauls are primarily involved in commerce, construction, and the everyday upkeep of the districts under their protection.
When the simmering tension between the Kauls and their greatest rivals erupts into open violence in the streets, the outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones and the future of Kekon itself.

REVIEW

Hello and welcome once more to this mess where I pretend anyone cares about my opinions. Today I want to talk to you about my latest read, because I figured that if I forced myself to write a review without letting the days go by, I wont forget important details about the plot.

Jade City it’s a political fantasy book with a really interesting setting and a plot that’s easy to dwell into because of its smooth writing. I believe a lot of people expect it to be an action-packed book but since I got into it without such expectations, I actually enjoyed it’s politics. It’s also an urban fantasy set in what I believe it’s the 70’s or around that.

The good:

I found the magical system very interesting. The fact that they powers come from a natural element that’s seek after by the rest of the world but that only them can use builds up a promising path for the second book in which I’m wondering if we’ll se further international involvement.

Jade is not only a weapon, but what makes everything in the plot move. The way Jade works, it doesn’t make you stronger because of its attributes. It depends on what you can do without it or how much jade can you tolerate without crossing a line. The political side of the plot revolved around a fight for power, for the control of Jade and how it is accessed by other countries.

The main plot is a war between The No Peak Clan and The Mountain clan, the two powerful clans who control Kekon’s politics and their people, The Lantern Men. Every clan has a Weather Man, a Horn and a Pillar, whose functions are administrating the clan, leading the military forces and keeping everything together. They control basically everything that goes on in the country, bypassing the government.

While the blurb says the book follows a mafia family similar to the one in The Godfather, and I can see where this is coming from, it’s also very easy to see reminiscences of Japanese clans and how shogutanes and clans would have evolved if they have survived the meiji era, instead of evolving into the yakuza (I know this is very vague please don’t come for me).

A lot of the wars mentioned and the current state of Kekon in the books, including the Espenian settlements, also remains me of Japan post-WWII. The author stated that that the setting is not based in Japan or any other East Asian country, and while I respect that, the point I’m trying to make is that the Green Bones clans feel very Japanese to me (but I can see how people relate them to the occidental mafia because of the structure).

I think it’s an interesting take, no matter what, and I found myself waiting to know what was going to happen with the power intrigues going on. While we follow the Kauls, leaders of the No Peak clan, we get to see glimpses of their personal lives and how they adjust to the current situation, working to find a way to fix everything going on with their diferents personalities.

There were also some intriguing secondary characters, like, Bero, Wen and Anden, who I’d love to see more of because while I like the political part of the book, I think they bring in not only more action but also sub-plots I find interesting if they are developed well.

The bad:

I want to start with a comparison that didn’t sit well with me. Without making spoilers, there’s a scene were a character compares her appearance to that of a victim of domestic violence. I know it’s not a big plot point or anything but it’s here and it made me pause and reread.

As I mentioned before, the writing is very smooth, which makes for a fast-paced read. Sadly, it also makes the book feel barren at times, which makes it hard to connect with the characters. In a character driven book like this that’s a fault I can’t overlook. Sometimes it felt like important things were happening way too fast and without feeling attachment to the characters that can make a plot boring very fast.

And that’s all for today. Have you read Jade City? Did you like it?

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