Jade City by Fonda Lee

Jade City by Fonda Lee
Narrator: Andrew Kishino
Series: The Green Bone Saga #1
Published by Orbit on June 26, 2018
Genres: Contemporary Fantasy, Fantasy, Magic Realism
Length: 19h 7m
Pages: 500
Format: Audiobook
Source: Purchased
Purchase on: Amazon// Barnes & Noble// BookBub
Add to: Goodreads // StoryGraph

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.


I have danced around picking up Jade City by Fonda Lee since it was first released. I’ve heard the praise and it seemed interesting, but for whatever reason, I could not motivate myself to pick it up. I guess I was worried it would be some weird and boring fantasy with a stronger focus on martial arts over the intricacies I usually gravitate toward. Well, I can readily admit I was an idiot. This was absolutely amazing and mind-blowing. The politics involved rival A Song of Ice and Fire and the worldbuilding is astounding.

To preface this review, while listening to this audiobook, I did have the author’s list of principal characters pdf up to refer to. The names weren’t ones my mind could easily latch onto and remember at the start. It’s the same problem I have with high fantasy. I mention this because I did see some reviewers that said this was too confusing to follow. Honestly, apart from the names of numerous characters, it shouldn’t be that hard to understand.

I absolutely fell in love with all of the characters. They were each so relatable as to be heartbreaking. Eldest son Kaul Lan wants a peaceful life but needs to head his clan and shoulder the responsibility of so many. He doesn’t know who to listen to, who to trust, and because he can trust no one in the end, even himself, falls to demons in his head. Second son Kaul Hilo, also the love of my entire life, born knowing his family see him as little more than a rabid dog, never having their respect or affection but always throwing his life away for theirs. Only daughter Kaul Shae who hated being forced to fit a role when she all she yearned for is freedom just to discover leaving isn’t possible. And Emery Anden, the queer adopted teen cousin of Kaul Lan who is struggling through so many identity issues, coming of age in a world of turmoil. What makes Jade City so great is you can understand the choices each of these characters make, which makes the downfall some face so tragic. You see how it can be avoided but know this is always how it was meant to happen.

The plot is so delicious and rich. Forget about this being a contemporary fantasy novel and it’s simply a very well written thriller. Politicians and mobsters in bed with one another as they struggle to lead an emerging nation in the direction they believe to be best. Motivations as simply as money and power that can be understood in context. The conflict between keeping to tradition and the old ways versus modernizing and joining the rest of the world. There’s no one right thing to do; benefits abound for each argument. That is where Jade City excels – there is (for the most part) not a single right way of thinking, of doing. All you as a reader can do is use your best judgment, same as the characters.

Jade City by Fonda Lee is an amazing modern fantasy novel that uses magic and fantasy elements to highlight the human elements that everyone can relate to. I rarely give book ones in a series a full complete five stars but this was the easiest decision. From an intricate plot to deeply well rounded and flawed characters, Jade City made me want to crawl between the pages and live there.


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