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.
Hoo boy was this book intense. While the first book, Jade City, sets a slightly more leisurely pace, letting you get accustomed to everything from the world to the characters, with Jade War Fonda Lee seems to say fuck it, you know everything you need to know so now I’m going to mess with your emotions, make you swear far too much, out loud, whilst at work, and keep you white knuckled, glued to the pages until I’m done. I can’t tell you how glad I am that I buddy read this with Leah because I needed to scream after reading nearly every single chapter. It’s rare for a book to have this much scope, both in time and characters, and manage to keep you as the reader invested in every little detail but Lee does just that and more. You almost become a member of the Kaul family yourself, their victories are your victories and their failures are equally yours. Definitely not a series for the faint of heart, yet one that I find myself loving more after every book. Jade War takes the concept of a slow second novel and knocks it out of the park, and I can’t tell you how much I NEED book three now!
After the events of Jade City the Kaul family seem weaker than ever. Hilo is still growing into his role as Pillar, his previous hot headed approach doesn’t quite work for his current roll and he finds himself leaning on his family more than ever. He knows he has big boots to fill, but he just wants to ensure that No Peak and his family survive in the current political climate. Shae knows people look down on her not only for being a woman, but also for her Espenian ties. But she see’s the big game. No Peak cannot win their battle against the Mountain alone, and it will take every ally she can gather both foreign and domestic to ensure they don’t fall into The Mountains clutches. Anden is scared, scared of how powerful he felt after using Jade, scared of turning into his mother, but mostly scared of what Hilo will do to him after publicly disgracing the clan. With war brewing on the horizon it’s time that he finds his place within the clan where he can help the most. Kekon is facing attacks from all sides. The more countries find out about Jade, the more want it and want to regulate it’s uses. Illegal trading is at an all time high and with SN1 pretty much anyone is able to use Jade abilities. No Peak will have to use every advantage they have if they wish to keep their Jade and their customs intact in a world that is quickly leaving them behind.
I can’t tell you how much I love this series. Jade War has, if it’s even possible, more POV’s than book one. In another authors hands this book would have been badly paced, might have lost focus. Few authors have the ability to write with the scope that Fonda Lee does, both in characters and time frame of the story whilst keep everything in line. We keep our Kaul family POV’s and these are by far the main characters of the story, the ones that you root for, even though they are by no mean the ‘good guys.’ Hilo, Shae and Anden are… anti-heroes is the wrong word, but Lee has a knack for writing incredibly complicated characters, ones you know that you shouldn’t like, but you root for all the same. She manages to make you almost feel like you are a member of the clan, you get overly invested in their business and personal lives, and though you know that not everything they do is the right thing, you almost find yourself rationalising it out in your head ‘well they had to do that because…’ (they absolutely did not have to do that.)
As well as the Kauls we get POV’s from multiple members of No Peak, their political allies, some foreign POV’s that I can’t really talk about without giving away spoilers and Bero the boy/cockroach from book one who just can’t seem to die and is seriously the luckiest person alive… because he’s certainly not the smartest. My favourite characters by far are Shae and Wen. It would have been incredibly easy for Lee to have written these women as enemies, but instead she writes one of my all time favourite female friendships. Shae knows that Hilo would not want his wife involved in clan business, especially with her being a stone eye (unable to use Jade) but what would be a weakness to others is Wen’s strength. She can go where others can’t and find out information that is vital to the Weather Man’s office. They wan’t nothing more than No Peaks survival and victory, and they are more than willing to work together behind Hilo’s back to ensure this. They have so many moments in the book and, honestly, No Peak simply wouldn’t be able to survive without them.
I thought the world building in Jade City was good, but Jade War took it to a whole other level. With us getting some foreign POV’s Lee allows us to travel to previously uncharted countries. We get a deep insight into their customs and ways of life, as well as their point of view on Kekon and the Jade warriors. This series is ripe with political intrigue, both foreign and domestic and whilst in other stories the amount of detail the author gives you may come off as a little dumpy and ott, in Jade City nothing is superfluous. If you are getting a certain POV, or travelling to a new Country there is a reason for it, and it’s only as you carry on reading that you see all the pieces fall into place to make for one hell of a finale.
Jade War was incredibly well paced. There were no lags, no parts of the book that felt unneeded. Every single piece of information you get fed has a part to play in the story, though you may not know it at the time. The story spans around a two year period which, I will admit, threw me a little at first. But once you get used to the jump in time, her writing style becomes natural to read and I honestly found it very hard to put it down after reading the days chapters. There are plenty of plot twists and shocking moments to keep you grasped and I can’t tell you the amount of times ‘What the Fuck’ came out of my mouth, both in a good and bay way. Lee’s descriptive writing brings not only the world and characters to life but Jade magic also. Reading the fight scenes in this book is like having a movie playing in your head. You can easily visualise each movement, each deflection or slash of a sword. They can get a little graphic, so are definitely not for the feint of heart, but the sheer brutality adds a depth to the story and makes you that much more invested in the outcome.
I’m so happy that Leah and I decided to buddy read this series together. Book one, Jade City is definitely a bit of a slow starter, but Jade War completely ups the ante and I was gripped to the pages from page one. Filled with unbelievably well written characters, world building everyone should aim for and a Godfather like gang style war, this series is fast becoming a favourite of mine and I can’t wait to get my hands on the third instalment.