Jade War by Fonda Lee
Publication date: 25 July 2019
Page count: 624 pages
Rating: 5 out of 5 stars
I was sent a copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. This review is spoiler-free for Jade War, but will have major spoilers for Jade City. You can read my review of the first book here.
I have been very vocal about my love of Jade City since I read it earlier this summer. Fortunately for me, the sequel, Jade War, came out in July, so I could continue on with the story almost immediately! I very rarely read books in series so close to each other, but I absolutely could not resist jumping into Jade War as soon as I could. Jade War continues the story of Jade City with just as much tension and excitement of its predecessor.
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.
Jade War is the second book of the Green Bone Saga, an epic trilogy about family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of blood and jade.
I had high expectations going into Jade War and they were absolutely met. Sometimes a sequel can feel disjointed from the original story, however Lee does an amazing job of seamlessly transitioning between the first and second books. While Jade City focuses more on gang violence and the increasing tensions within the city, Jade War shifts to a more political narrative. The war is obviously not over, as per the title, but much of it is being fought in the press and in politicians’ chambers rather than in the streets — all while Lan’s tragic death haunts his family. With the stakes so incredibly high with no opportunity for release, the tension in this book is cranked way up, despite the conflict in this book being much more subtle than actual gang battles in the streets. Lee does a fantastic job of keeping up the pacing and tension while continuing to build and expand on the greater narrative. If you love books that study political maneuverings, backstabbing, and shifting political alliances, you’ll love Jade War.
Just a quick note, something I really loved about this book is the way it explores diaspora. A portion of the book is spent in in the Kekonese community in Espenia. This was probably my favourite setting in the book, as we get to see the diversity of the Kekonese culture in another country and how people hold onto and try to pass along traditions to their children.
I continue to be blown away by the amazing characters in this series. Hilo will forever remain my favourite — I loved seeing his softer side in this book (although he very much remains his usual stubborn self) — however Shae and Wen both gave him a run for his money. The ladies are definitely the stars of this book, something I was really hoping for after the more male-dominated Jade City. You get a glimpse of these two badass characters in the first book, however both of them fall into in more secondary roles. In Jade War they absolutely take center stage. Shae probably grew on me the most, as she is much more present in this book than the first (although my favourite scene in Jade City is the moment she quietly puts her jade back on after Lan’s death). Lee does an amazing job of teasing out her character and making her a force to be reckoned with — she also happens to feature in my favourite scene in Jade War. Wen is an equally badass character, but in a much quieter way. She’s a fierce mother and wife who puts her family first — she’s really the glue that holds the family together and I adore her for it. I always love reading more about Wen, and Jade War gave me exactly what I wanted from her character.
It is hard to live up to a book like Jade City, however Jade War does exactly that. If you’ve read and enjoyed the first book, get your hands on the sequel immediately — it’s one of the best sequels I’ve ever read. Equal parts satisfying and heartbreaking, Jade War is a totally addictive read and some of the best modern fantasy out there.
Want to pick up a copy of Jade War for your self? You can find it at the following sites (affiliate links):
Have you read Jade War? What about Jade City? What did you think? Let me know!