Title: Jade City
Series: The Green Bone Saga #1
Author(s): Fonda Lee
Release Date: November 7th 2017
If anyone had told me that they would publish a book that would blend The Godfather with magic in an Asian setting, I would have probably been skeptical and overlooked it without second-guessing my decision. Fonda Lee brings shames to doubters with her latest novel part of The Green Bone Saga series, Jade City. Maybe it is my love for anything related to organized crime (Goodfellas, The Sopranos, The Godfather, etc.) that helped me enjoy this more than I thought I would, but the author strives to deliver a brilliant story that stands tall and proud with its detailed world-building.
This urban fantasy is a fine example of a tale that focuses on a family-oriented development with an Asian touch to its lore. The organized crime structure incorporated in this story has all its rules, traditions and superstitions spiked with a dose of fantasy. On top of all the elements that constructs your typical family dilemmas in organized crime (honor, deception, betrayal, etc.), the story also finds originality with the inclusion of this mystical object known as jade in which clans find their power and respect.
Through jades, individuals find enhanced powers (Strength, Steel, Deflection, Channeling, Perception and Lightness) and use them to protect their clan’s interests or their own. Fonda Lee makes fantastic use of this element of fantasy to drive her narrative forward and create unique relationships and obstacles for her characters to develop in. You would think that this source of magic would create chaos in forms that a society could never recuperate from, but somehow Fonda Lee succeeds in incorporating it brilliantly and using it to build a world that stands firmly on a foundation supported with excellent history, culture and tradition.
The story puts the No Peak Clan into perspective and showcases the evolution of a war against the Mountain Clan. Without ever truly focusing on a particular member of the No Peak Clan, readers are given a third-person omniscient look at each character’s point of view. With each of them going through their own crisis, their position in the clan adds a constant threat to their lives and their loved ones. While their interests don’t always coincide, the story finds ways to align their destinies and create phenomenal bonding moments that will leave readers in awe.
As much as I’d love to share the structure of these clans reminiscent of Mafia families with their boss, consigliere, underboss, caporegime and soldiers, it is something that is just worth discovering for yourself. It does take a little bit of time to get used to the ranks and the names, but as soon as you finish the puzzle, the story flows perfectly and readers will be stunned at how well Fonda Lee manipulates the lore to her advantage. Her masterful grasp on the mythology she creates is one of the reasons why this new series should be on your radar.
There is a little downside to the third-person omniscient narrative, but it’s most likely something that’s more personal than universal, and it’s how I found that the author hands us on a silver platter the very thought process of a character, dissecting their intentions and the reasoning behind what they say or what they do. It would’ve been heavenly if these moments were sometimes left for readers to deduce for themselves. I do love to understand by myself the weight of an action by a key character instead of being told how important it is. Nonetheless, it doesn’t ruin the experience at all. Everything is conveyed with great precision and keeps you glued page after page.
The story is also filled with some intense sequences, whether they are adrenaline-packed fighting scenes or massive plot twists. Fonda Lee does a wonderful job at keeping the intrigue high and strong while laying out all the scrumptious details to the lore. In fact, the fight scenes are marvelously described and are easy to visualize throughout this story. Being a black belt martial artist definitely has its perks!
Fonda Lee’s latest novel has me sold on her potential to deliver exactly what I didn’t know I needed: a war among clans considered as organized crime with a touch of magic in an Asian setting. It’s the hint of drugs and magic that just heighten the experience and promises great things. Now I’ll have to impatiently wait for her to write up the next installment in this slick jade-filled story.
You can order your own copy now!
MY OVERALL RATING: ★★★★☆
Have you read it yet? Do you plan to? What do you think about Jade City?
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Till next time,