Book Review: Jade War by Fonda Lee

Often fantasy trilogies disappoint me. I find publishers want authors to write trilogies for the money, so authors think they need to write trilogies. They had a great idea for a solo book, but then the idea loses its legs and it wanes its brightness in the second and third book, like the author was just phoning it in. Not so with The Green Bone Saga by Fonda Lee. 

I read “Jade War,” the second book in this amazing trilogy, and I was just as wowed as I was by the first book. Once again we return to the richly detailed world of Kekon, a place I never wanted to leave as soon as I finished the first book. I felt like I was at the dining table eating supper with old friends, immersed once again in their strange and wonderful world steeped in tradition and sacrifice. “Jade City” was ambitious enough, the story of the war between the clans and a very regional plot, focused on the No Peak clan and the struggles of the Kaul family. Once again we journey into a world where the island of Kekon is the only place in the world that mines jade, a special gemstone that gives its wearers superhuman powers. 

In “Jade War,” the author brings in the geopolitical tensions of the greater world. The No Peak clan tries to form trade partnerships and diplomatic alliances with Espenia, sending the Kauls’ foster son Anden to study there. At first it feels like an exile, but Anden soon finds Green Bones even in Port Massy, Green Bones that must hide their jade and who face prejudice for being Kekonese. He finds the local clan and its Pillar, even though these Green Bones would never be green enough for Janloon. He finds his first love. 

Meanwhile, war is brewing, and the drug SN1 or shine, which allows non-native Kekonese to wear jade, is doing a brisk black market trade. A confluence of tightly ordered events, like jigsaw puzzles, smashes together. Once again we delve into the loyalties, loves and pain of the Pillar of the No Peak clan and his Weather Man, his sister Shae. Only now Hilo is a family man, with two babies of his own and the late Pillar Lan’s son Niko. Jade War cemented my first crush on a fictional character. How much do I love Shae? She’s everything a strong, badass woman leader should be, a woman not afraid to fight for dominance by any means necessary while also showing her vulnerability. 

The political machinations have been building up to the thrilling conclusion. From the hints and chess pieces in play, I hope “Jade Legacy” will be about how Kekon joins the modern era and the world interfaces with jade in a way in which Green Bones can still keep their culture and way of life. I’m not sure I want to live on Kekon but I was thrilled to be a tourist in this crazy, awesome world that blends Asian cultures and martial arts action. Luckily, I don’t have to leave just yet; I have one last book to read. I hope Shae and Anden will find love again, Hilo will grow into his role as not just a local clan boss fighting for turf but a globally-focused leader who knows his place in the world; and Green Bones will cling to a new, evolved legacy. But I have a feeling this author will just make me cry and I must admit I am looking forward to it. 

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