JADE CITY (The Green Bone Saga #1)
Written by Fonda Lee
Published by Orbit, June 26, 2018
My star rating – 4 stars
Jade is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. It has been mined, traded, stolen, and killed for — and for centuries, honorable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family have used it to enhance their magical abilities and defend the island from foreign invasion.
Now, the war is over and a new generation of Kauls vies for control of Kekon’s bustling capital city. They care about nothing but protecting their own, cornering the jade market, and defending the districts under their protection. Ancient tradition has little place in this rapidly changing nation.
When a powerful new drug emerges that lets anyone — even foreigners — wield jade, the simmering tension between the Kauls and the rival Ayt family erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones — from their grandest patriarch to the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets — and of Kekon itself.
Jade City is the first novel in an epic trilogy about family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of blood and jade. Find it on Goodreads
In all the books i’ve ever read, none other has been more conflicting in my mind!!! I struggled for hours just to decide on a rating!!! This book had some of the most unique and strong positives going for it (seriously, I’m about to go on about them for a VERY long time!). But then the negatives come in and really drag down my positive thoughts. Grab a snack and something to drink – this review is going to be a long one!
First of all – to call this book an epic fantasy seems to be an injustice….. the scope of this novel is absolutely enormous! We have two rival clans (the No Peak and the Mountain Clans) who are teetering on the brink of a war. Their hierarchy has gone through some changes recently and it seems to be throwing off the balance in their long standing peace. Just learning how the clans work was so freaking interesting!! Each clan has its hierarchy and the way things are run. It took me a while to figure it all out so hopefully I can help you out.
- The Pillar – The head decision maker of the clan
- The Weather Man – The right hand person who advises and knows whats going on
- The Horn – The most visible and street level person – the muscle
- The Fists – The muscle and enforcement
- Fingers – Entry level, answers to the fists, a lot of small and dirty work
- Lantern Men – These are NOT green bones and have no magic. These are the business owners in clan territory who pay to support the clan in return for patronage and protection.
I really hope that me putting that out there for you helps! Honestly, the book starts out explaining these positions as if you already know what they are and it tripped me up so much…. you’re welcome lol.
Along with the amazing clan dynamic, there’s the magic!!! It seems as though these abilities are only awake in this area of the world. I think that that has a lot to do with the jade that naturally produces in the area (I’ll get to more of that in a minute). But the basics of this is that anyone who has magic when they’re in possession of jade are called Green Bones. It needs to be touching their skin and on their bodies at all times. It seems as though jade awakens the bodies natural abilities such as Strength, Steel, Perception, Lightness, Deflection, and Channelling. It does seem that there’s a point where your body can only take so much jade before it goes wrong. Something called “The Itches” and other undesirable mental side effects will happen, so balance is key. Unless you have an illegal drug called the shine then…. but you’ll have to read the book to learn more about that! (not a spoiler by the way!) Jade not only created magic, but it creates economy for the area that they live in. It seems to be is main export and there is worldly demand for the quality.
Speaking of the world, gah this was so well done!!! The world seems HUGE at first. But then you all of a sudden realize that it’s only a small country, probably smaller than most! It’s an Asian inspired land called Kekon and had a really old world feel with modern conveniences. But the descriptions were perfection! I caught myself going back to the map over and over putting the businesses in their place and imagining how the neighbourhood would look all together.
Whew! That doesn’t even seem to do this book justice as far as how much I really liked it! If it was based on these thoughts alone, I would have absolutely rated this 5 stars. Unfortunately though, there were a few things that really took away from my overall enjoyment. Firstly – FOR THE LOVE OF GOD, CONDENSE!!!!!!! This book was dense as hell. So many details and so many unnecessary descriptions and dialogues that it made it feel like I was wading through 4 feet of quicksand. If you’re going into this thinking it’s going to be a quick fantasy read – think again. Give yourself some time! Having said this though – I did enjoy it. All of this made the book feel so large and inclusive, and it was easy to loose yourself in the story. But SO MANY TIMES I rolled my eyes and wished we could just get to the point already.
At the halfway mark, the character building just died. Everything became matter of fact and the only thing that could be thought about were vengeance, anger and grief. Obviously that makes sense – with what was happening in the story at the time, and the fact that they were facing an all out war, there isn’t time for much else. But the climate became monotone with its anger and very linear with its action. Once again, at that halfway point, even the action scenes lacked emotion. It was cold, brutal, and step by step. As much as I wanted this book to be condensed, these scenes could have used a little finesse like they were in the beginning. I also expected more surprise plans and cunning….. that didn’t happen either. The clan was so focused on putting out little fires that they didn’t seem to have much time to plan out brilliant attacks with all the shock factor. But, I have a feeling there’s going to be room for this in book 2!
I also wish that this was more evenly balanced. In the beginning we had magic, world building, humour, secrets, steamy scenes, shock value, action – everything! It all died away at that halfway point and I wish it didn’t have to. I know that things changed for a reason, but I really missed that perfect balance.
Did I love this book? Absolutely!!! But I really do think that I would have loved it so much more if it was condensed a bit. In the end, the positives far outweighed the negatives and I still ended up rating this 4 stars! I can’t wait to pick up the sequel soon 🙂
Until next time, happy reading!