by Fonda Lee
On the island of Kekon, the Kaul family is locked in a violent feud for control of the capital city and the supply of magical jade that endows trained Green Bone warriors with supernatural powers they alone have possessed for hundreds of years.
Beyond Kekon’s borders, war is brewing. Powerful foreign governments and mercenary criminal kingpins alike turn their eyes on the island nation. Jade, Kekon’s most prized resource, could make them rich – or give them the edge they’d need to topple their rivals.
Faced with threats on all sides, the Kaul family is forced to form new and dangerous alliances, confront enemies in the darkest streets and the tallest office towers, and put honor aside in order to do whatever it takes to ensure their own survival – and that of all the Green Bones of Kekon.
Check out my review of Jade City!
I thought Jade City toyed with my emotions, but it has nothing on Jade War. This was one of the most stressful reading experiences of my life and I loved it.
If Jade City‘s focus was on the fight for jade in Kekon, Jade War expands Fonda Lee’s fantasy world to make that fight international. I honestly don’t know where to start with this review because so much happens in this book and I don’t think I will do this novel any justice if I try to explain the plot to you, so all I can really say is that you need to pick this series up because it’s one of the best fantasy series out there right now.
Fonda Lee’s character work and world-building are exquisite. This entire world, and all the people in it (the ones you like and the ones you’d like to see step on a Lego), feel so real. I closed this book half expecting to see Kekon pop up on the news, only to remember that it doesn’t actually exist.
One of the particular triumphs of Jade War for me, though, was how much both Anden, the Kauls’ adopted cousin, and Wen, Hilo’s wife, were able to come into their own. I loved Anden’s character arc in this book, especially the decision he ultimately came to regarding his own relationship to jade, and through him it was interesting to see more of Espenia and the Kekonese community who live there. In general I can be quite forgiving of fantasy worlds that don’t feel too real – if neighbouring kingdoms are mentioned but never explored, I can easily forgive that as long as the story itself doesn’t rely on those places and I can at least believe the places we do see – but when an author gets an entire world right it really is so satisfying, and incredibly clear just how much work has gone into the story to make all these countries feel like countries I could hop on a plane to.
I loved getting to see even more of Shae in this book, too, and I hope (although I don’t think Fonda Lee will grant my hopes) that she gets a bit of an easier ride in Jade Legacy, because Jade War was rough for Shae. I do love how she and Ayt Mada feel like two sides of the same coin, though.
There’s nothing else I can say without spoiling anything, but if you haven’t started this series yet then I highly, highly recommend that you do. It’s fantastic.