Jade City (The Green Bone Saga #1)Jade City by Fonda Lee
My rating: 4/5 cats
One StarOne StarOne StarOne Star

it took me an embarrassingly long time to get through this book. between life-sorrow and the early bitchslap of summer weather, i’ve been very bad at reading. however, once this clicked for me, i was completely hooked, and when i finished, i felt that very specific emotional mashup of yearning and frustration that comes when you read the first book in a series six months before it is even published, making the wait for the next book that much longer.

this is the author’s first novel for the adult market, and it’s really impressive. i’ve never read her YA, but if it’s anything like this, i’m interested.

on paper, it’s not really my kind of book – epic fantasy meets organized crime, rippling with all the unfamiliar names of characters, locations, ranks, and honorifics that give me agita trying to keep straight whenever i attempt to read fantasy, and filled with detailed fight sequences that tend to make my eyes glaze over trying to visualize ‘em. BUT, while i admit it took me a bit longer than i’m comfortable admitting to orient myself in this world, once i did, her worldbuilding blew my mind a little. this is such a dense and elaborate realm; a kinda-sorta japan, but with its own unique myths, religious rituals, caste system, culture, etc to which the reader is exposed gradually, almost incidentally, while following the story of two clans of superhuman warriors fighting for dominance, territory, and undisputed control over the supply of jade from which the clans derive their powers, while regular citizens are caught in the crossfire. but it’s not just battles and physical conflicts, it’s about family (and Family), politics, legacy, reputation, loyalty, and that always-unpleasant opposition between duty and desire.

it’s damn good, practically shakespearian.

lee is a martial artist herself, and she writes her fight scenes in a way that even i (a lover, not a fighter) can follow along with, which is a rare gift. she’s equally skilled in the emotional landscapes of her characters (of which there are many), creating a rich psychological component, and this thing is impressively thick with details of the hierarchies and roles and the complex social mechanics of this world. some of the names are better than others – it’s hard for me to get invested in the earnest fight for the region known as the Armpit, but who am i to judge another culture’s armpit-estimation?

i haven’t said much about the plot, because it’s one of those books where you can’t easily mention one element without attaching five qualifying/explanatory statements to it – backtracking to differentiate between Fists and Fingers, White Rats and stone-eyes, etc – and i think ‘warring crime syndicates with magical powers’ is enough to pinpoint the driving force behind the action.

it may have taken me a while to settle into the world, but i’m a notorious fantasy-dummy, so now that i’m comfortable here, bring on book two before i forget all this hard-won understanding!!

read my reviews on goodreads

Click to comment

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

Amazon Disclaimer is a participant in the Amazon Services LLC Associates Program, an affiliate advertising program designed to provide a means for sites to earn advertising fees by advertising and linking to Amazon properties including but not limited to,, or,,, or


this feels gauche, but when i announced i was starting a blog, everyone assured me this is a thing that is done. i’m not on facebook, i’ve never had a cellphone or listened to a podcast; so many common experiences of modern life are foreign to me, but i’m certainly struggling financially, so if this is how the world works now, i’d be foolish to pass it up. any support will be received with equal parts gratitude and bewilderment.

To Top