Book Review: JADE WAR by Fonda Lee

Genre: Fantasy
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 4 stars
Series: yes - second book in trilogy



Book cover for JADE WAR: title in red on dark red

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 honour aside in order to do whatever it takes to ensure their own survival – and that of all the Green Bones of Kekon.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here


My opinions on JADE WAR, the second book in the Green Bone Saga, are thankfully a lot easier to work out! And were more consistently positive. I think this series might be a bit like THE BONE SEASON for me – that it takes a bit for me to get into the world and characters, but once I’m in, I really enjoy it.

Certainly, this was a very immersive, addictive read. It’s a big, complex story, so it’s a deliberate read. I didn’t race through it at breakneck speed, because I couldn’t if I wanted to follow the ins and outs of what was happening. However, it’s done in a very engaging way, as the characters are forced to choose between awful decisions, fuelled by vengeance at times.

JADE CITY was a big story, but this one dwarves it. Not only is the book longer and spread across more countries, but also the number of moving parts and schemes at play was staggering. And yet I could follow it all. At times, there were helpful little reminders when an idea had been out of play for a while.

The mid-way plot point was a little alarming when it came – which was also where I stopped reading that night. It had the potential to go a similar way to a major plot point in JADE CITY (the death of Lan), and thus send me into another tailspin by losing my new favourite character. However, it didn’t play out that way (phew), which meant that I could read through the whole book without the same struggles I had with the previous entry.

There were quite a few moments when I thought characters were going to die, as this is not a series that cares about preserving main characters. Instead, stakes and the character’s choices are pushed to the top of the priority list, and watching the No Peaks top slowly fracture under the immense pressure as they struggled to balance blood, loyalty, and their priorities was so engaging.

The characters stay completely true to themselves throughout the story, which makes their arcs so compelling. Flat character arcs, where the characters stick doggedly to their beliefs and change others, often don’t get the same attention as fall or improvement arcs, but it can lead to really explosive showdowns (the phrase “an immovable object meeting an irresistible force” comes to mind.)

The finale, JADE LEGACY, comes out next year, and I’m excited to see where it goes – and how many people will die.

Read my reviews of other books by Fonda Lee:

The Green Bone Saga (this series):

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