Jade City (The Green Bone Saga #1) by Fonda Lee
Published by Orbit
Adult, Urban Fantasy
Publish Date : June, 26th 2018
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.
“A man who wears the crown of a king can’t wear the jade of a warrior. Gold and jade, never together.”
Trigger Warning : substance abuse, decapitation, gore, death, violence, sex
A must read book for all fantasy fans. “I swear on my honor, my life, and my jade.”
Jade City is a multi award nominated adult fantasy debut and first book to The Green Bone Saga trilogy by Fonda Lee. Since I started reading adult fantasy books Jade City has been on top of my TBR list. I wanted to relish the experience of reading the book by buying the physical copy. Obtaining the physical copy wasn’t that easy. It took me 3-4 months to finally lay my hands on a copy. For all of you readers that live in South East Asia or places where English books are limited in choice, you know how expensive and how hard to obtain a book like Jade City. When my copy finally arrived I devoured it immediately I could not delay reading it anymore. For those who are interested, the sequel, Jade War, is already released and the last book, Jade Legacy, will be released in September 2021.
The story is set on the island of Kekon, the only place on earth that produces the worlds rarest resource, jade. On this island there are two crime syndicates that maintains control over the jade, the No Peaks and the Mountain. In Jade City, the story focuses on the Kaul family, the family that is the core of the No Peak clan. After many incidents of minor disputes between the No Peak and the Mountain tensions run high between the two clans. As the tension erupts on the streets of Kekon blood is shed, lives are lost, and jade is won; the Kaul family’s and the No Peak clan’s fate are determined by the outcome of this clan war.
Heaven help us. My clan, all Green Bones, all of Kekon.
Jade City is set in the modern urban landscape of Kekon, with a mixture of nature and modern developments, the island itself reminds me so much of Hong Kong and Taiwan. The whole world is reminiscent of the old gangster movies I used to watch such as the Godfather, A Better Tomorrow, and Kung Fu Hustle. The atmospheric world building sets the tone and mood of the story which made the experience of reading much more immersive. I specifically love the places in Janloon that become the main battle ground for the two opposing clans such as : Twice Lucky, The Armpit, and the three betting houses on Poor Man’s Road. The magic system, jade, plays a big part in the story, as it is used as the main plot tool and enhances the powers of Green Bones, someone that wears jade. The life of the Kekonese revolves around jade, it is deeply rooted in the culture and economy of Kekon as jade is the main resource for the Kekonese. Economically the clans benefit from jade but only two dominant clans receives the biggest benefits from it. This monopoly created a government that is easily influenced and swayed even though there is a saying that “Gold and Jade never together”.
Jade also created rifts amongst jade warriors and normal people. To hone the powers of jade one must go through a training process from a young age in the two most prestigious academies on the island. To enroll one must have a certain connection to the two clans or come from a family of jade users. The Kekonese takes the purity of their blood line very seriously, mocking anyone with mixed ancestry viewing it as something shameful. It is safe to say that not anyone can be a green bone. In Kekon someone that has more jade on their person is considered of higher status and holds more privilege than any normal man. Not to mention the power jade offers to those who wear them. This can easily blur the views of people that puts jade on a pedestal, corrupting their minds and senses with greed just to get a taste of it’s power, sometimes more of it. There is a hierarchy in the society of Kekon that is prominent as you read the book. With the existence of a powerful weapon like jade, Fonda Lee added consequences for the users. Only Kekonese people can use jade but not all of them, some of them are born not being able to hone the powers of jade. Non Kekonese can use jade but not with consequences, they are more prone to being addicted or die. The checks and balances in the magic system is done really well and its packaged to be easily understood by anyone. Readers can grasp the concept within two to three chapters into the book. I can go on and on about how brilliant the world building and the magic system is. It is very complex yet simple without it being too dragged out.
“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.”
One factor about Jade City that became the main force of the story is the characters. Fonda Lee has written characters that are well fleshed out, relatable, and realistic. There is grandeur and other worldliness when it comes to characters in fantasy but the characters in Jade City is human and flawed. Reading the book I was taken aback when Fonda reminded me how human the characters are. At that moment I realized no one is invincible in this story. The attachment I have developed to the characters blurred the lines of reality for me, when a bad thing happened to a character I felt all the emotions hitting me like a rogue wave. The character dynamics and interactions with one another is written in a way that each of them have their own distinct voice. Their personality bleeds out of the page that I keep forgetting I’m reading a book. All of the members of the Kaul family prioritize family over everything, setting aside their differences to stand with the family through grief and tragedy. The side characters also contributed to the chaos of the story lighting those sparks that build up into a house fire that will only get bigger as the story progress. Mind you this is just the first book to a trilogy, it will only pick up from her to an even larger scheme as the world and the story expands.
“All he knew now was that remorse had a natural limit. After a certain amount of time, it finished eating a person hollow and had to alchemize into anger that could be turned outward lest it consume its host entirely”
It is not often that I feel a lot of emotion while reading a book so intensely that it haunts me constantly throughout my day. Fonda Lee blew me away, when people told me that Jade City is a good book I did not expect it to be a book that contains everything I love in stories. It is truly a masterful story about a powerful family with inter generational blood feuds, politics, territorial disputes, sabotage, and honor. Weaving magic and martial arts into the story resulting in multiple jaw dropping-powerful-explosive combat scenes. The author did not hold back with the suspense and build up of the story. With each chapter I read it, I get more and more invested that I was ‘itching’ for more.
“The clan is my blood, and the pillar is its master.”
Fonda Lee has written one of the best books in modern fantasy; the originality in the world building and magic system, the utmost highest quality prose, the addictively-gripping story and plot, and last but not least is the amazing impactful characters. I highly recommend for everyone to read this book, pick up this book and prepare yourself to be transported to Kekon.