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590 pages, Hardcover
First published July 23, 2019
“People are born selfish; babies are the most selfish creatures, even though they’re helpless and wouldn’t survive a day on their own. Growing up and losing that selfishness—that’s what civilization is, that’s what sets us above beasts. If someone harms my brother, they harm me—that’s what our clan oaths are about. Those men weren’t your enemies—they were our enemies.”
“The clan was not just people and jade and money. It was an idea, a legacy that connected the pats with the present and the future. The family’s strength was a promise.”
“If you’re not sure you’re in love, then you’re not.”
“Out of small resentments, spring great wars.”
“All that mortals could do was accept the lot they were given, and yet still fight to better their own fate and that of their loved ones.”
“If you want to lead, you can’t wait for everyone to line up behind you.”
“Out of small resentments, spring great wars.”
“There were so many things a Pillar could not accomplish solely with his own will and strength, that relied instead on other people, even in matters as personal as vengeance.”
“There’s a difference between a dog that picks garbage outside your house, and one that jumps through your window to still from your table. One is a nuisance you can ignore; the other is a problem and has to be killed.”
“If you're not sure you're in love, then you're not.”
”I know something of clan war, and one thing I know is that they're fought on many levels.”
“I am not a politician. Gold and jade, never together. But if you must choose between the two, count on jade.”
“Hate me from now on if you have to, but you need me to stay, Hilo. And you need Wen and Anden. You said it yourself years ago: We have each other, and maybe that’s the one thing we have that our enemies don’t.”
I was worried about getting lost reading the book and while I was, at first, Lee still reminded us of the relevant events that took place in Jade City subtly. The writing style and the short chapters made it easy to fly through the book especially since new events unfolded throughout the book. Jade War certainly didn't suffer from the second book syndrome and while I honestly can't compare it to its precedent, this installment made me want to read whatever Lee publishes next (other than Jade Legacy).
I liked the characters, they were fleshed out with clear motives and mindsets but also complex. They weren't predictable and every now and then, a character will pull off a surprising idea. Shae was my favorite in this book but I also admired Hilo's wife, Wen. I loved how Lee empowered those two women, how they stood their ground facing a male-dominated society. Ayt Mada was also a cunning antagonist that you love to hate. She's smart, vicious, and unpredictable. The tension between No Peak and the Moutain kept me on the edge of my seat and I just wanted to skip pages to know what will happen (but I controlled myself and didn't. It wasn't easy.) Of course, I have a soft spot for Andy, I highly enjoyed his chapters.
The action scenes were also well-written, we had a duel that kept me fixated on my tablet and although I just knew what won't happen, Lee proved to be unmerciful in the previous book so I was worried. Something I should mention is that this book reads more as a cold war. I was honestly waiting for the full blow-up of the tension between clans but it was more "war by proxy" between smaller factions and yes, through foreigners! This is also smart and impressive on its own. Fonda Lee created a rich world-building that stretched throughout different countries. Another favorite part of this book to me is that we go to discover the world outside of Kekon. This book takes a place a year and a half after Jade City but also a lot of time passes throughout it. Mind you, not as much as in Jade Legacy but still, it's considerable. I also liked this because many fantasy books happen during a short period of time, which isn't very convincing.
The multiple perspectives in this book didn't feel singular but more like part of a whole. We had many perspectives: Shae, Hilo, Andy, Wen, Bero, and also other minor characters. Sometimes, a minor character had just one part of a chapter. So yes, we had a lot of points of view and some could've been cut out. I particularly didn't like Bero's. This character is like a cockroach annoying and no one likes him. I wish we didn't have that many chapters from his perspective (they weren't a lot compared to Hilo's or Shae's for example, but since I can't stand him, they became too many).
Another issue I had with this book is the pacing. It was either I couldn't put the book down (which occurred more often the latter) or I needed whatever motivation to continue reading. I think since I was used to lots of action, those stagnant chapters didn't last long and something interesting always came up.
Overall, I highly enjoyed this novel and looking forward to reading Jade Legacy and whatever new books Fonda Lee (welp as long as fantasy) will write in the future. I'm very curious how the next book will be written and especially how some particular events will unfold. So far, this is a solid fantasy series, leaning more towards "Urban Fantasy" since we have "gangs" (or clans). The Great Bone Saga would make a great tv series and I'm glad Lee got a deal!
“I didn't think you believed in the gods,” she said when he straightened.
“I don't,” Hilo said, “but the feeling's mutual, so maybe they won't hold it against me.”
“The possibility of death was like the weather—you could make attempts to predict it, but you would likely be wrong, and no one would change their most important plans due to threat of rain.”