Jade War, Fonda Lee – Book Review

Hello Humans! Earlier in July, I made what could have been the riskiest decision of my reading for the year. I decided it would be a great idea to read Jade War immediately after reading The Dragon Republic. These two books were two of my most anticipated reads for the whole of 2019 and since I loved The Dragon Republic so much I thought I might have shot myself in the foot by pitting Jade War against it.

Spoilers ahead for Jade City, but spoiler-free for Jade War.

jade war

Goodreads Summary:

In Jade War, the sequel to the World Fantasy Award-winning novel Jade City, the Kaul siblings battle rival clans for honor and control over an Asia-inspired fantasy metropolis.

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.

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I adored Jade City, and I was pretty sure I was going to have similar feelings about Jade war – though you never know with a sequel. I’m delighted to say I was in no-way dissapointed by this book. Consider my socks totally knocked-off. I am barefoot and heartbroken but in the best way.

One of the big selling points of Jade City was that the city of Janloon basically felt like a whole other character. You really got a sense of what life was like there. (This notion is most perfectly summed up in I Should Read That‘s video review). I was a little nervous when it became apparent that much of Anden’s perspective would take place outside of the city – would Fonda Lee be able to do the same thing for a different city? I shouldn’t have doubted! It was better than I ever could have expected to expand the world and the scope of this story. I firmly hope that this will continue in later books in this series.

It’s the characters that sold this series for me. I just love all of them. I really like that Fonda Lee manages to do what so many writers attempt (and fail at), namely, creating characters who have obvious flaws that don’t fall squarely into either the ‘good’ or ‘bad’ category. I’m currently listening to Scott Lynch’s Gentlemen Bastards series as audiobooks and it’s a similar experience – I know that these characters are criminals and, in many cases, murderers and yet because I completely understand their motivations and their situations I still *like* them as characters. It just works. These are the kinds of characters I love and the characters I aspire to write one day. Fonda Lee is a genius and in this sequel I even found myself falling for characters about whom I was kind of ‘meh’ in book one (cough, Hilo, cough). The fact that Fonda Lee manages to carry all of these perspectives and keep everyone distinct and interesting just…I am in awe.

This review is just descending into gushing but THE PLOT. I love that I was totally unable to predict where this story would go, who the important players would be and how it would end. As with The Dragon Republic, I spent a good portion of this book fearing for the lives of my favourites and getting totally swept up in the whole story. I can’t honestly say I always had a grip on what was happening but I tend to be a ‘read twice to properly understand’ kind of person and this series is going straight into my ‘reread’ pile.

When people describe these books as some of the best fantasy books publishing at the moment they really aren’t exaggerating. These books are exceptionally written and everyone should have them on their shelves as soon as humanly possible.

You heard it here folks – this is one of the best books I have read so far this year.

My rating: 5/5 stars

I received a free copy of this book from the publisher. All opinions are my own.

Jade War is available now!

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What say you? Is this on your TBR? Let me know in the comments below!


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