Book Review – Jade City by Fonda Lee

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Goodreads Synopsis:

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 honourable 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.

Review:

Everybody was raving about how fantastic this book is for ages and so I decided to finally give it a chance. I now wish I’d waited a bit longer as now I have to wait patiently for the next two books. Of course, that alone will show that I too really enjoyed this book.

The worldbuilding for this is absolutely incredible and is what made me fall in love with the book. It’s so well done – the setting is very clearly Asian-inspired but it’s still vague enough that you can’t point to a place and say “It’s this place”. For example, I got very strong vibes of Hong Kong from it, but then I also could totally see it taking place in Taiwan and I imagine it invokes similar feelings for other locations that I’ve not visited. I’m very glad I waited though as I definitely feel having visited places like Hong Kong and Taiwan that it really helped me picture a lot of the settings and get a stronger feel of the book. I’ve also visited a lot of museums that have a lot of jade pieces which helped me further appreciate the importance of jade (including one that had an excellent video all about jade carving).

The characters are all very well developed and have strong, distinct personalities. I won’t say too much about them as getting to know them and their motivations throughout the book is one of the highlights – even if you don’t like a particular character, you still admire what a well-written character they are and understand why they take the actions that they do.

The synopsis gives a good summary of the plot and honestly I feel the less I say about it, the better. Because it’s heavily focused on intrigue between the clans, anything I say might potentially spoil it for readers.

Like many who have read this before me, I highly recommend this book – especially to those looking to read Fantasy in non-Western settings.

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