Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee: Review

A culmination of three books and what began as an urban fantasy ends as an epic fantasy filled with so much gorgeous prose you won’t want to stop reading until you’ve absorbed the last word in the story.

Some information about this book:

  • Genre: Fantasy
  • Release date: November 30th 2021 (US) December 2nd 2021 (UK)
  • Page count: 752
  • Series: Green Bone Saga (#3)

The Blurb:

Jade, the mysterious and magical substance once exclusive to the Green Bone warriors of Kekon, is now known and coveted throughout the world. Everyone wants access to the supernatural abilities it provides, from traditional forces such as governments, mercenaries, and criminal kingpins, to modern players, including doctors, athletes, and movie studios. As the struggle over the control of jade grows ever larger and more deadly, the Kaul family, and the ancient ways of the Kekonese Green Bones, will never be the same.

The Kauls have been battered by war and tragedy. They are plagued by resentments and old wounds as their adversaries are on the ascent and their country is riven by dangerous factions and foreign interference that could destroy the Green Bone way of life altogether. As a new generation arises, the clan’s growing empire is in danger of coming apart.

The clan must discern allies from enemies, set aside aside bloody rivalries, and make terrible sacrifices… but even the unbreakable bonds of blood and loyalty may not be enough to ensure the survival of the Green Bone clans and the nation they are sworn to protect.

Book Cover

It’s hard to know where to start to unpack this book. I guess I’ll start by telling you this is one of the best books I’ve ever read. The sheer quality that is within its pages is absolute. It really is that good.

When I first started reading the Green Bone Saga I picked it up because it was an urban fantasy kind of story and I have a soft spot for those. I loved it and told everyone I knew that read books to pick it up. I picked up Jade War immediately, however, Jade War sat on my shelf for over a year before I opened it because I was worried that it wouldn’t be as good a story as Jade City had provided. I was worried the storytelling, twists and turns, and the action wouldn’t maintain the same level of quality I had come to expect after my first entry into Fonda’s storytelling. I was wrong and luckily didn’t have any time to wait to continue the story as I was given an arc for Jade Legacy by Orbit via Netgalley for an honest and unbiased review.

“sometimes the most obvious solution required only the willingness to take the most unreasonable of actions.”

It’s hard to summarise this story through the internet without conveying the emotions that it generates within you when you speak about it. Jade Legacy really surpasses anything I could have expected to read. I don’t honestly think that I could have predicted that this would be as good as it is and Fonda has raised the bar that much higher for fantasy writers everywhere; maybe she is now also a prisoner to the quality of her own writing but that’s a nice problem to have and not one to dwell on here.

“Marry the devil, get the devil’s mother.”

Jade Legacy and the Green Bone Saga is up there with epic fantasy of the same scope. Series like A Song of Ice and Fire by George RR Martin and The Stormlight Archive by Brandon Sanderson should find themselves joined on ‘best of’ lists by Fonda’s trilogy, she really has absolutely smashed it with these books.

“Whatever’s going to happen will happen, so the most important thing is that we appreciate what we have and the people we care about.”

This story starts a few months after Jade War ends and actually spans over a quarter of a century. Now when I first realised what was happening I wasn’t sure I was going to enjoy it. Each chapter might skip a year or more and I wanted to stay with the current characters on their current plight but when you get through the years you see why Fonda had to do it. The story where it was couldn’t have possibly worked if it hadn’t been through these time jumps allowing the characters to get older and grow.

The big clans were getting bigger. We’re still two tigers, Shae thought grimly, eating all we can before we have to face each other again.

The action in this book is as good as it gets. Fight scenes have been carefully choreographed to provide the best visual image for the reader while also delivering impactful moments and story-altering after effects. The clash of every blade, the zip of every bullet whizzing past and the crunch of every fist or kick landed resonates in your mind as well as any well delivered speech from the mouth of its owner. There are of course lots of fights, deaths and brutal scenes within these pages, it’s a story at its heart about two clans fighting for control of the powerful jade. If you enjoyed the action from either of the previous books you will find your thirst quenched here.

Jade warriors are young, and then they are ancient.

I really, really liked the worldbuilding in this book and think it is the biggest expansion yet as Fonda gives us access to new areas bringing in new dynamics, visuals and characters. Some locations have banned jade and so characters have to adapt to their surroundings, either hiding their jade or removing it altogether thus providing a new obstacle to navigate through. Letting us into more of the world brings with it new faces, not all of which are friendly, which brings me onto characters.

The characters in this story are the pure, unrivaled driving force behind everything that happens and as I’ve mentioned before in previous reviews, the depth, progression and realness of these characters is unparalleled. They read like real people, talk like real people, have meaningful goals and broken parts. In fact I’m finding it hard to believe that Fonda isn’t a Weatherman of some clan in her area and she has based this story off of real clan members – the characters in this book must be real people and not products of her mind’s creation.

“Good men are remembered with love by their friends… Great warriors are remembered with awe by their enemies.”

The way they interact with each other draws constant attention from the reader and tension spews out of the pages. It could be two family members talking about dinner, two lovers sharing deep thoughts or two enemies negotiating and they will all carry the same energy within their conversations. The words have all been carefully chosen, each sentence carefully placed as if it were a part of a drawing using permanent marker. It’s just brilliant. I especially loved any interaction between enemies as these proved to be some of the most tense, sneaky and exciting conversations to eavesdrop onto. At times it felt possible that one of the characters might turn around and talk to me directly.

“When something has to be done, there’s always a way to do it.”

There are plenty of new characters to acquaint yourself with to. People from every location in the book get their time in the limelight, showcasing what they can do, what they want and how far they will go to protect what they love. It means that everyone gets a shot at your attention and not a single character is wasted or used as a filler.

“The mind cannot adjust quickly to a fundamental change in reality without breaking. If the moon vanished from the sky, people would not believe it; they would think it was a trick of light or clouds.”

I loved No Peak clan’s members from the lowliest finger to the members of the leadership in the Kaul house. My personal favourite Bero had a great arc in this story and his story is probably my favourite of all of them. Showcasing what can happen to someone across 3 books and 1,902 pages is incredible. How he starts the story and how it ends feels like the genuine beginning and ending of someone’s actual story. Bero was my favourite but they all felt like they played a part and all had their own threads of destiny to see out which brings me onto my next point.

How Fonda has managed to tie up all of their stories into one nice bundle is beyond me. If you’ve ever tried writing a multiple point-of-view story as an aspiring author you will know how confusing and stressful it can get as you try to build genuine reasons to connect characters and have them pop up with others so that readers will see them and say something like “Oh that’s him from before with X!”. It’s not an easy task, I’ve tried it myself but when you add in three books with multiple characters, rules, countries, loyalties and so much more stuff in, it gets so much harder and yet Fonda has managed to absolutely nail it. Everything has its place, everything is connected perfectly and there are so many moments where people show up in each others stories.

“When something has to be done, there’s always a way to do it.”

This is full of emotion too. For me it stayed under the surface slowly boiling like a pot of ramen before I got to a certain point in the story and, surprisingly to myself, was crying because I felt so connected to the characters and how real they felt. The emotion had been conveyed from Fonda’s home and her mind into my own and my heart. It’s just pure brilliance that she has managed to do this, almost like she was channeling into me personally from the moment she started this journey. The best part is everyone has the ability to feel this with this last entry in this trilogy.

“We don’t handle this world. We make it handle us.”

Tying the arcs in this story up can’t have been easy for Fonda. No chapter is wasted and every single thing you read has its place in this world. Every little conversation, every fight, every betrayal all builds up to the ending. As I said, there are so many moving parts but somehow she has managed to close off every loose end with a realistic, believable and sufficient knot that ensures that this story is completed and no-one is left out. It’s really riveting stuff.

Rating S/5 – Yes! S rank! This book is only the fourth book I have ever given a coveted S rank too. It’s a book that is perfect in every way and surpasses the standard 5 star system. Every word has been placed down with thought as if there was a word limit and not single consonant or vowel could be wasted. Fonda has written something utterly brilliant here that everyone needs to experience. She has taken an idea about clan warfare and turned this into an epic fantasy trilogy that has shot her up to the top of so many reader’s lists. Jade Legacy is how you tie off a trilogy. It’s fun, exciting, tense and heartbreaking all at the same time. Real people living in a story that feels so real that it is only limited by the pages it lives on. This is fantasy and if you don’t read this trilogy you are missing out on one of the best pieces of fantasy writing I have ever absorbed. Well done Fonda, well done.

One thought on “Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee: Review

  1. Pingback: MY TOP TEN SFF READS OF 2021! | The Oasis

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