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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.

590 pages, Hardcover

First published July 23, 2019

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About the author

Fonda Lee

30 books4,806 followers
Fonda Lee is the World Fantasy Award-winning author of the epic Green Bone Saga, beginning with Jade City and continuing in Jade War and Jade Legacy. She is also the author of the acclaimed science fiction novels Zeroboxer, Exo and Cross Fire.

Fonda is as a three-time winner of the Aurora Award (Canada’s national science fiction and fantasy award), and a multiple finalist for the Nebula Award, the Locus Award, and the Oregon Book Award. Her novels have garnered multiple starred reviews, been included on numerous state reading lists, named Junior Library Guild selections, and appeared on Best of Year lists from NPR, Barnes & Noble, Syfy Wire, and others.

Fonda is a former corporate strategist and black belt martial artist who loves action movies and Eggs Benedict. Born and raised in Canada, she currently resides in Portland, Oregon.

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Displaying 1 - 30 of 4,043 reviews
Profile Image for Petrik.
687 reviews45.9k followers
August 13, 2023
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ARC provided by the publisher—Orbit—in exchange for an honest review.

Absolutely amazing; Jade War was a brilliantly compelling sequel filled with skillfully-written characterizations and tension-packed action scenes.

I read this novel with four other readers of different ethnicity—TS, Emma, Jenia, and Nils—living in different parts of the world, and all of us pretty much agreed that we were in love with—and terrified by—the events in Jade War. It’s satisfying and astonishing that Lee was able to successfully create a sequel as good as this. Jade War topped all the stunning quality in Jade City, which has won many readers’ hearts and the World Fantasy Award trophy last year. But Fonda Lee did it spectacularly. Again, Jade War was unbelievably better than the first book. The fantasy genre needs more urban high fantasy as refreshing and great as this series.

The story in Jade War takes place sixteen months after the end of Jade City. The official blurb on Goodreads and Amazon did a wonderful job of explaining the premise without spoiling any of the main events; read those if you want to know more about the general plot. Jade War took every factor of importance firmly established in the first book into account and Lee expanded upon them deftly. On my first read, Jade City took a bit of time—around 100 pages—for me to become comfortable and attached with; Jade War flowed naturally with no dull moments from the first page until the last. All scenes in this novel just felt necessary and crucial; the plot points that I loved from the first book—such as a deadly clan war, engaging dialogues, and now, international politics, too—not only existed but were improved further. Jade War also follows in the footsteps of the first book by making sure that the main themes of love, family, honor, and duty were evident in the narrative. Fiercer, more ambitious, and bigger in scope, the events that occurred in Jade City subtly enhanced the looming tension hanging around behind the shadows of the characters. Lee gradually and continuously escalates the stakes that the characters encounter; the last 150 pages of the book comprised an unputdownable finale that can frankly be described as every single shit hitting the tornado.

“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.”

Recently, I’ve been having a bad streak of luck in reading SFF books; many of them do have awesome action scenes and original world-building, but they miss one feature that matters most to me, stupendous characterizations. I’ve written more than 300 reviews now, and I’ve repeated this so many times already, but I simply can’t enjoy a book if I don’t feel invested with the characters. Fortunately, Lee belongs in a type of storyteller that prioritizes her characters and characterizations. Since the first book, I felt truly invested in the characters’ journeys; it’s crystal clear that Lee understands and knows her characters incredibly well. For example, we know it’s inevitable that Hilo, being in his position, would have to do some questionable actions, and my god, he did. Even then, I was still able to understand why he did these things, and the good side of him that genuinely cares about his family compelled me to care further about him.

“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.”

Every character’s actions in Jade War always have weight and comprehensible motivation behind them. Lee has created an exceptionally well-written cast of characters that’s so bloody compelling, complex, tangibly realistic, and easy to get attached to. There wasn’t a single moment where the characters felt like they behaved outside of their personalities, and the internal conflicts they had were all valid and empathizing. These are the kind of things that, in my opinion, separate the good and the great SFF authors from each other and Lee definitely belongs in the latter group. I also need to mention that within the cast of characters, the female characters—Shae and Wen—of this series were hands down some of the best female characters I’ve ever read in fantasy.

“If you’re not sure you’re in love, then you’re not.”

This, of course, doesn’t mean that characterizations were the only great thing Jade War; Lee’s tremendous actions and intricate world-building are back and strong as ever, too. They go hand in hand; the characters and the terrific characterizations served to improve the sense of danger and immersion behind the battle scenes and fully-realized world-building. Jade War doesn’t take place solely in Kekkon, one look at the maps in this book, and you will immediately realize this is a much larger and ambitious sequel compared to its predecessor. The inclusion of Shotar and Espenia, to name a few, made the series more complex than before, and yet, it’s still impressively accessible.

“Out of small resentments, spring great wars.”

Lee once again astounded me with her fantastic blend of martial arts and jade magic; the clan wars provoked by each faction led to ignitions of violence that’s doubly gripping and memorable. The action sequences were utterly stylish and breathtaking. I have to give a round of applause to the duel featured in this installment; it was pulse-pounding, full of energy, menace, and ominous atmosphere. The crescent slash left by the clean moon blades detonated a frightening quality of explosion that quickened the beating of my heart. I mean it, the duel scene and the climax sequences exhibited in this installment were brimming with vivid imagery and perceptible intensity. Take the last battle in Jade City, and increase that threefold, then you will have a notion of the crushing strength poured into the global jade war. I honestly can’t wait to read how Lee will improve her cinematic set pieces in the next—the last—installment of the series.

“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.”

I’m gratified and impressed by the gangster fantasy series I’ve read this year; Priest of Lies by Peter McLean is included in one of my favorite reads of the year so far, and now Jade War joins the list as well. Jade War is urban epic fantasy at its best, and Lee has cemented The Green Bone Saga as one of my favorite ongoing series with a groundbreaking impact. Do not miss reading this incredible book and series at all costs. The No Peak Clan awaits your enlistment in the Jade War. If you haven’t read Jade City, what are you waiting for? On my honor, my life, and my jade, this is a magnificent example of urban high fantasy of the highest tier. The clan is my blood, and the Pillar is its master; let the gods recognize me as a clan loyalist who has stamped Jade War as one of the best books published in 2019.

Official release date: July 25th, 2019 (UK) and July 23rd, 2019 (US)

You can pre-order the book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Blackwells (Free International shipping)

The quotes in this review were taken from an ARC and are subject to change upon publication.

You can find this and the rest of my reviews at Novel Notions

Special thanks to my Patrons on Patreon for giving me extra support towards my passion for reading and reviewing!

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Profile Image for Matt's Fantasy Book Reviews.
263 reviews3,926 followers
October 13, 2022
Check out my YouTube channel where I show my instant reactions upon finishing reading fantasy books.

A jaw dropping follow up to Jade City that somehow is better in virtually every way imaginable.

Jade City was one of the best books I have read in 2022, and while I felt relatively confident that I would think similar thoughts about Jade War, I also know that fantasy trilogies can very often suffer from "middle book syndrome" so I was cautiously optimistic going into this one. Thankfully, my slight trepidation was quickly dispelled because this book is absolutely wonderful from the beginning until the end. It takes the foundation that made the first book so great, and doesn't need the slow character development the first book needed to get right into the flow of this story.

Story: 5/5

Based on the ending of Jade City, the beginning of this book was a little slower because the action came to a plot induced slowdown that needed to be slowly ramped up again. I actually worried that things were going to be moving too slowly while reading this, as I was not even sure what direction the plot was going to take us until around the 30% mark. The central conflict seemed to be resolved (even though as a reader we know that it won't stay resolved forever), so the tension in most of this book comes from newer conflicts and internal character driven drama.

I loved the pacing here, with the nice blend of slowdown and quick ramp up. There were sections of this story that had me sitting on the edge of my seat, and literally sweating with anticipation of what was going to come next. Most of these events shocked me as a reader, and I will cherish them for a long time to come.

I also enjoyed the direction that Anden (the adopted brother) went with his character arc in a different country. It was a nice insight both into new locations, and into his character development.

World Building: 4/5

The world is expanding in this book with a focus on multiple locations that were outside of the main city of Janloon (where 95% of Jade City took place). I liked this broader scope, as I am an avid fan of epic fantasy. And while this book most certainly could not be described with such terms, it moves in that direction and I appreciated that change in focus. It made things feel more global, and increased the tension and importance of the events that occurred.

But while the scope has expanded, and the areas described are full of wonderful descriptions that really bring them to life - at it's heart this is an urban fantasy and it's hard for me to really come away thinking urban fantasies (most of the time) can be extremely memorable due to how closely they resemble real life. Swap out any of these cities for real life cities and you wouldn't ever notice other than having new names.

Fantasy Elements: 3/5

The fantasy elements of this book also felt a bit stale. The thing that makes this a fantasy book is that the country of Kekon is the only location in this world that produces jade - which grants the people who wear it with exceptional strength/speed.

It's a very basic magic system that feels rather uninspired. And while it does keep the plot moving in important ways, it's just not nearly on the same innovative level as most modern day fantasy novels. I'm not sure that adding in a crazy magic system would have benefitted this book, but as it stands this is definitely the weakest part of this book.

Characters: 5/5

The characters are one of the things that makes this book so special. The book mostly revolves around the POVs of three siblings, and each of them have compelling personal stories with tremendous character growth. At no point was I disappointed when the POV switched, as I like them all equally.

These are flawed characters that are fighting against those flaws, and it's extremely entertaining to watch them progress through this story and interact with each other, and the side characters of this book. Even the side characters are well done, including the rival family which doesn't end up feeling like a "good vs. evil" storyline, which I appreciated from this author.

I loved the increased focus here on some of the more minor characters, with some extended POV time being given to some of them. It really made this story more fleshed out and realistic.

Writing Quality: 5/5

The writing style here has really grown on me and I have come to really appreciate it's strengths. The focus here is on character development, and while the prose is not flowy or much to remember - the vivid depth that went into these characters more than makes up for this.

Enjoyment: 5/5

If you couldn't tell by now, Jade War was a marvelous experience for me that will have me thinking of this book as a top, top tier 5/5 for a long time to come. I'm saddened that my journey with these characters is nearing an end, and that's always a sign of a highly enjoyable series.

Profile Image for Althea ☾.
625 reviews2,011 followers
February 22, 2022
2nd read: I will never not think that this was anything short of heart wrenchingly amazing.

“If you want to lead, you can’t wait for everyone to line up behind you.”

1st read:

“Out of small resentments, spring great wars.”

The way Fonda Lee weaves crime and gangster narratives into endearing family and brotherhood dynamics really is nothing short of clever. This is a brutal but politically dynamic and action-packed urban fantasy revolving around incredibly well designed fantastical and realistic elements. By the end of this book, I feel like Fonda Lee carved out 10 years off of my soul.


I never thought I would love geopolitics and economics in fantasy as much as Fonda Lee made me love them. And she did it so expertly that it was impossible for me not to be hooked.

This story exemplifies on a whole other level the cost, consequences, and machinations of war because it also so successfully portrays the complex characterizations and heart-felt family dynamics that go with it. Jade War expands everything we already knew and added even more scheming, betrayal, and political power plays.

If your selling point to read a book is “You will be destroyed”… this series is the epitome of that.

An underlying but potent theme of this story is in how Shae and Wen express time and time again the duality of what a “powerful” woman means. Crime and gangster type of stories is usually set in a very male-dominated society but the girlbosses women of this series were portrayed to have just the same (if not more) amounts of conscientiousness, passion, perseverance, diligence, and (sometimes) cruelty as their male counterparts without feeling the need to outright say it. Even then, it was able to show the expectations of being a woman in modern society, in both the No Peak and Mountain clans *wink*

At the end of the day they were able to show how freedom and strength lies in letting women (and people, in general) choose the role they want to uphold in the first place.

“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.”

Life is cruel and so is this book.


The pre-established relationships that we got to learn and love in the first book follows through in the second book in the most intense and heart-wrenching way that Fonda Lee has the power to ruin me at this point and I have consciously put myself in her hands to be destroyed.

The characters are definitely at the forefront and are leading factors of this story. However, it never feels like they’re being swept away by the plot no matter how complicated it gets. I love how certain actions and the meanings behind their respective interactions are nuanced enough that when you catch the underlying implications, makes it extra fulfilling. It feeds the complex character dynamics flowing while tugging you in with it. I never feel like the conflicts in this story are too heavy even though they objectively are about killers if we all take a step back and forget about how attached we all are to the Kaul Family.

“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.”

The way this book is written made me feel like I just lived through a whole life time.


What I didn’t expect for this series was for it to span years. Though the way the passage of time was written into plot points like helps you imagine the time skips without having the need to be told specifically how much time has actually passed. If I am not mistaken, this might be the first book that I have read from that wrote time skips so casually and flawlessly... genius.

The intriguing narrative is written in a way that shows perspectives of the social ladder from the bottom to the top, and everything in between. I honestly find it very intriguing and it creates a multi-layered feeling to the setting, especially since the perspectives we read from most of the time are from those at the top of the social hierarchy. I also love that we got to see how the conflict plays out even outside of Kekon.

One of my favorite aspects about this series is how well-done the multi-POV was especially given how fast the timeline goes. Fonda Lee said this in an interview and I agree: the beauty of the multiple perspectives is that you get to see how every main character has a view into every other main character. They had such a complete view of each other and as readers, we have a complete view of every one of them that leaves us invested in all of them…. down to the most minor of characters.

“If you're not sure you're in love, then you're not.”

For a little extra something: These books are one of the farthest things from a romance book there is but the romance sub plots are so well-written that if Fonda Lee comes out with a romance novel I’d read it to be honest.

This book was so easy to read but that doesn't mean anything was simple.

↣ It's vividly written, it's brutal, action-packed, filled with complex character dynamics and an immersive writing style. Pick up this series if you want to be destroyed. Let’s be destroyed together.

I suddenly have the urge to reread the whole thing. Definitely a new favorite of all time.

”I know something of clan war, and one thing I know is that they're fought on many levels.”

— 5.0 —
content warnings// Ableism (minor), Abortion (off-page), Animal death (off-page), Blood, Body horror, Death (including parental), Gun violence, Homophobia, Sexual content, Sexual violence (mentioned), Suicide ideation, Torture, Violence (graphic)
representation: Gay main character, Bi/Pan main character, Asian-inspired setting and characters
Profile Image for Marzuqa.
63 reviews58 followers
September 13, 2021
600 pages of being blown away by this breathtaking installment in a phenomenal series. This was everything I hoped it to be and more. Fonda Lee is such an incredible story writer. The plot building and story line were so intelligent and enthralling. It’s no lighthearted read though, it’ll play with your heart and might leave you in shambles.

This was definitely more political than book 1. Power struggle continues between two rival clans over control of magical jade. But this time, there’re threats from external countries and war is brewing beyond borders. It all boils down to survival. Violent feuds and combat are abundant, but we also see the various characters and their relationships mature amazingly in this book. I loved how this was totally unpredictable too.

Readers who enjoyed Jade City can be sure to be thoroughly entertained by this sequel. I would recommend this series over others anytime.
Profile Image for James Tivendale.
317 reviews1,343 followers
September 29, 2021
Rereading before starting Jade Legacy next…

I received a review copy of Jade War in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Fonda Lee and Orbit Books for the opportunity.

Jade War continues the brilliantly addictive and engaging oriental urban fantasy gangster narrative that started with Jade City. The novel is a mixture of the finest elements seen in crime cinema such as the family loyalty and honour from Copolla’s The Godfather and the political unrest and uncomfortable moments of To’s Election series. Intertwine that with some John Woo inspired bullet ballet and Crouching Tiger, Hidden Dragon-esque wire-fu and readers are in for an incredible experience.

“The men begged for their captors to kill them, but the Jo Sun clan handed the criminals over to No Peak as a sign of allegiance and good will to the Kaul family. They were not alone in their thinking; the other minor Green Bone Clans, the Janloon city police, and even the Mountain clan assisted or got out of the way – there was nothing to be gained from opposing Kaul Hilo’s rampage.”

In Jade War, we mostly follow the point of view perspectives of important members of the No Peak clan. The Pillar Hilo, his sister the Weather Man Shae, their cousin Anden who moves abroad to study, and Hilo’s wife the stone-eye Wen. Hilo is still my favourite character. The thirty-something leader of one of Janloon’s most powerful clans who is cunning, intelligent, sometimes intense, occasionally ruthless but completely family-focused. He’s changed from his days running the streets for the clan but he still shows elements of his merciless and stone-hearted former self when he has to. The other standout character here is Wen. It’s been a while since I completed Jade City but I can’t remember her being anywhere near as important and influential as she presents herself here. The characters are my favourite aspect of Jade War, especially when considering how some members of the ensemble have changed dramatically over the space of a couple of years.

Jade City was predominantly about the Clan War but this time there is also a war of nations, involving many countries such as Kekon, Espenia, Ygutan and Oortokon. With that going on in the background there is also the issue of all the nations wanting Jade – a powerful stone that gives the holder phenomenal powers – in some capacity which has led to a black market for the sought after gems. In addition, there is political turmoil, individuals that are only out for themselves and an uncertain and potentially insubstantial clan truce. There really is a lot going on here in Lee’s created world, It’s complex, impressive and engaging. It’s not all dark and drab action throughout. There are some lighter, lovely moments. These are mostly when dealing with scenes of family closeness and the romantic relationships that a couple of characters have. This entry also includes an LGBT storyline.

In similar fashion to Jade City before it, Jade War is strikingly original in its composition and presentation. It’s beautifully written with exceptional characters and a phenomenal storyline. There are intense set-pieces and action scenes such as shootouts and duels. There are some extremely emotional and tragic moments. Certain individuals may be hugging their children in one scene, then executing someone gangland-style in the next, and then crying about the death of a close friend a few scenes later. Jade War will take you through a complete plethora of emotions like only the best books do. The ending of this novel wraps all up nicely but leaves us with a few questions and doubts about the mental state of one of the main players.

Jade War is just as good as the first entry in The Green Bone Saga but I have a feeling that Lee is saving the best for the finale and that she’s going to end this trilogy with an almighty bang. I can’t wait.
Profile Image for TS Chan.
719 reviews885 followers
November 7, 2021
ARC provided by the publisher—Orbit—in exchange for an honest review.

Jade War is a magnificent sequel that brilliantly showcases the immense potential of urban fantasy, without resorting to typical mythological elements.

The author mentioned in the acknowledgements about the "seemingly impossible task of following up the biggest, most ambitious novel" she's ever written with "an even bigger and more ambitious novel". If that's the case, Fonda Lee has then achieved the seemingly impossible as the second novel in The Green Bone Saga excelled over the first in every possible way. From the plotting to the worldbuilding to the characters, every component worked so well in the sequel that it gave me sheer joy reading Jade War.

In the first book, Jade City, the narrative was centred mainly on the feuding two most powerful clans of Kekon and the setting focussed within the city of Janloon.  Since then, we've heard of the larger countries and continents outside of Kekon, such as Espenia and Ygutan but it was merely spoken of by the characters. As all good sequels should, this novel expands the worldbuilding by bringing the reader to the further shores of Espenia, to the city of Port Massy - the world's largest trade centre - where the use or ownership of jade by civilians is illegal, a stark contrast to the culture amongst the Kekonese. The city settings of both Janloon and Port Massy are also equally incongruous. Janloon (which already sounded so much like Kowloon) is redolent of everything that is Hong Kong, while Port Massy evokes New York City.

Against this evocative backdrop, the story of the Kaul family was brought to life with masterful characterisation. Hilo, Shae, Anden, Wen, Kehn and Tar - all so lovingly crafted that they feel so alive and so real. Every single one of these characters is convincingly portrayed, through their thoughts, emotions and actions. There were so much growth and development in each one of these characters that it was so satisfying to read. Hilo has even become one of my favourite fictional male characters. He inspired the same feeling I got while reading about Kaladin from The Stormlight Archive, which is saying A LOT given that the latter is my all-time favourite. He still has that smouldering yet disarming demeanour, a dangerous edge and violent tendency, but he is unfailingly protective of his family and loved ones. And he will do whatever it takes, no matter the cost, to keep his family safe and his clan together.  His is the type of leadership that inspires undying loyalty as he takes the pain to interact with everyone personally.  In my opinion, he also has the most compelling character arc in the trilogy to date, followed very closely by Anden, Wen and Shae.  Speaking of Wen and Shae, these two female characters couldn't be more different in terms of their jade abilities, but both are equally smart, competent and courageous.  Wen, especially, simply amazes me with her bravery.  She has so much heart and fierce compassion.

Having the benefit of growing up watching HK gangster movies enhanced my experience of reading these books. The scenes easily translated into vivid images in my head, especially when aided by the cinematic quality of Fonda Lee's writing. Together with the well-conceived plot and superb pacing of the narrative, Jade War was exceedingly engrossing. The last quarter of the book ratchets up the intensity even further as the subplots unravelled into the proverbial shit hits the fan. There were many great highlights in this novel, from the badass fight/action scenes (again, so reminiscent of Mistborn, especially of the later era) to the poignant and heartbreaking, and a shockingly contentious one; like prime-time drama skillfully rendered in prose form.

I adore stories which have such strong emphasis and powerful takes on familial love, clans and honour codes, and this trilogy has it in spades. Adding in the magically endowed kungfu abilities, and more crucially, compelling characterisation, Jade War was easily one of my favourites and best urban fantasy books I've ever read. I think even non-fantasy readers can appreciate this trilogy, especially for fans of gangster stories like The Godfather. The Green Bones can simply be viewed as super soldiers, albeit with more power than strength, speed and ability; you know, like deflecting bullets, and snapping spines or stopping hearts with just the right touch.  I seriously and wholeheartedly recommend The Green Bone Saga.

Official release date: July 25th, 2019 (UK) and July 23rd, 2019 (US)

You can pre-order the book from: Amazon UK | Amazon US | Book Depository (Free shipping)

You can also find this, and my other reviews at Novel Notions.
Profile Image for Emma.
986 reviews1,001 followers
July 17, 2019
Sixteen months have passed since the violent and tragic events of Jade City and the No Peak Clan are far from safe. But it’s not just the Clans at war. The outside world wants in. Jade is a commodity right at the top of everybody’s list and they’re willing to pay for it, in bundles of cash or oceans of blood. Trying to prevent foreign governments, criminal gangs, smugglers, street thugs and everyone in between from taking what doesn’t belong to them makes for interesting alliances, underhand politics, and more than a little bloodshed. No Peak can’t do it alone, but there’s only one other Clan who can help… And it doesn’t take years of Green Bone training to work out that inviting a snake like Ayt Mada in to your home means that you’re going to get bit. There are hard choices to be made. But the Kaul family will do what they must to protect each other, their jade, and their Clan. The stakes are nothing short of their lives.

It’s no understatement to say that Fonda Lee has improved on the first book in every way. While this is most evident in the characterisations, it applies equally to the world-building and plot. Everything is more vibrant, better realised. This feels like a whole new world. Accordingly, while Jade City offered some notion of what was outside of Kekon, this time the stage is truly international. And just like it says in the title, this is a WAR. One that will determine not only the future of the Clans, but Kekon and its place in the world heirarchy. It’s all about power and the deadly games people play to get it, or keep hold of it. The knives are out and nobody is safe.

Yet what gives this book an extra something is that it doesn’t lose sight of how all this political and military bargaining affects real people. From the plight of refugees created by proxy wars and used as bargain chips, to the trickle down persecution of Kekonese immigrants in Espenia, this is real life recreated. Proof, if needed, that Fonda Lee knows not only her world, but ours. Her characters show that in spades. Whatever you might want them to be, they are nothing more or less than themselves. Love them or loathe them, the author always gives us enough to understand them. To the eternal dismay of my buddy readers, I still don��t like Hilo. But I get him. And I can see how skilfully the author creates a reader's emotional investment in my own reaction to Anden, who I genuinely adore. The exploration of his sexuality, of what it means to be himself within his family, or as part of a Kekonese community in Janloon or Espenia is so relatable, so perfectly done that it actually made me somewhat aggrieved when I had to read other POVs. His role as something of an oppositional or questioning force allows a multifaceted exploration of the morality of the ideas and actions of the Kaul family and the Green Bone way of life. It rips away the glamour to reveal what’s hidden beneath- the suffering and loss and scrabbling in the dirt as life bleeds away…

For me, these improvements created something which I hardly felt in the first book: genuine tension. The last 20-30% of Jade War is all out, full-on, page turning fun. It’s made of bold choices, danger, and death. There’s blood and magic, surprises and satisfaction. Best of all, there are more than a few scenes that make you hold your breath, moments that could change the game for some of the players. Or end it. And if that’s not enough, there’s Bero. Ah, Bero. An annoyingly lucky character, and an increasing favourite, is turning into something close to comedy gold. He’s a nobody, a failure, a mistake, but he’s always right there at the turning points of the story. Even if Anden wins my favourite character award, it’s Bero who raises a smile as I wonder what trouble he’s going to get himself into next. I wouldn’t be the least bit surprised if he ends up the Pillar of the reunited Clans…. Who the hell knows?? Whatever happens, we know he’ll do it badly and with a serious attitude to boot. I can’t wait.

At its heart Jade War is about the choices people make. It’s about personal morality and what happens when that clashes with the bonds of family and loyalty, it’s about acting under pressure and doing what needs to be done, it’s about trying to find the ‘right’ way forward even knowing there will be consequences. And trust me, there are.

ARC via Netgalley
Profile Image for Hamad.
1,047 reviews1,379 followers
July 26, 2019
This review and other non-spoilery reviews can be found @The Book Prescription

Actual rating: 4.5 Stars

“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.”

🌟 Disclaimer: I received a finished proof of Jade War in exchange for an honest review and my participation in a blog tour.

🌟 Often times we as readers hear about the middle book syndrome and we have all experienced the second book being meh in a series! I do understand that specially after writing a successful and the expectations are high.

🌟 But let me tell you about the middle book miracle where the second book is bigger, better, and more exciting than book 1 in all aspects of the book.

🌟 If you have read my review of book 1, you would know that I liked it but had some criticism and things that I said could be improved. And few things can make me happy as seeing authors improve as if they listened to my advice! (Don’t get this wrong, I am not saying that the author listened to me, she has great readers who helped her but it felt like so).

🌟 I have been enjoying books more lately since changing to adult fantasy books! Lee’s writing is great and very easy to get into. I like how she kind of reminded us of what happened in book1without forcing it on us. It was so smooth!!The names of the chapters are one of my favorite things about this book. (Green as fuck for example!!)

🌟 The characters are as fleshed out as in book 1. There are many surprises, many new characters and many babies! The glossary at first helped keeping all these characters in mind although they were well introduced that I didn’t have to jump back to it many times.

🌟 I read the first book with Fares and we agreed that the world building could have been better. It was better here. I mentioned that money was not prevalent in book 1 as it should have been. Surprise surprise, there was some focus on it here. The magic system did not improve significantly but I just felt more comfortable with it here. I think that there is no shame in having a simple yet entertaining system.We also have 3 maps at the start of the book as we are now talking about politics on a continent level. There was so much political and strategical intrigue and I liked how real it felt.

🌟 The plot in the book is interesting too. I felt my heart racing in anticipation a few times while reading this and that is great. There is a cool duel that left me on my tiptoe and many surprised along the way that I think you should experience for yourselves.

🌟 Summary: Jade War is the mega evolution form of Jade City where the author tended to all the small details in book 1. It felt better from all aspects and I can’t wait for book 3 now!!!
Profile Image for Rebecca Roanhorse.
Author 28 books8,043 followers
January 13, 2022
Wonderfully immersive. Love the expansion into international politics and all the plot threads Lee keeps weaving until the very end. An ending which had me screaming "She did not do that!" multiple times at my poor husband who was just trying to sleep...it might have been 2am. This is incredible world building and character development while maintaining high stakes and complex plotting. If mafia families, magic, and politics are your cup of tea, I don't think it gets any better than this.
Profile Image for CW ✨.
669 reviews1,711 followers
July 13, 2019
Many of you may know that Jade City is my favourite book of all time. And not just ‘one of my favourite books’ – Jade City is the favourite book. And now I find myself in the strange and unexpected position of finding a new favourite book of all time. I have loved Jade City so passionately for years that I never gave thought to the possibility that it would be dethroned so soon. It’s not often you read a book where the second book, the middle book of a trilogy no less, is undoubtedly better than the first book, and yet, Fonda Lee did it. Jade War, the sequel to Jade City, has dethroned its predecessor as my favourite book of all time. Jade War is more brutal, more devastating, more emotional, and more than you could ever expect it to be.

So when Fonda Lee ran a contest on Twitter, tasking readers to come up with a Jade City-inspired art to win an ARC of Jade War, never in my life had I felt so grateful and excited to have some artistic ability. And when I won the giveaway with my fanart of Shae and received it in the mail (sobbing whilst opening it, obviously), I had no idea that, in my hands, I would be my new favourite book of all time.

Here is my 100% spoiler-free review of Jade War (and has no spoilers for Jade City as well)!

Following the events of Jade City, the sequel follows the Kaul family of the No Peak Clan, one of two of Kekon’s most powerful clans in which jade-wearing warriors, Green Bones, pledge their loyalty and lives. With war brewing outside of their borders, the Kaul family find themselves balancing on a blade’s edge and faced with threats on all sides – the Mountain clan, foreign governments, criminal crime organisations, and jade smugglers. This is a sequel that takes the foundations built by its first book, and takes the story, its characters, and the stakes to new and terrifying heights. And hell, I’m still a little emotionally numb after reading it. (It was that good.)

At the heart of Jade War, the story is heavily centered on war, and the implications the conflicts have on the Kaul family. True to its promises, Jade War does have some incredible action and fighting scenes that will leave you sweating with anxiety and adrenaline (Chapter 31, friends! Chapter 31!). However, Jade War is more than just fighting with blades and jade-powered abilities; Jade War is about the machinations of wars played behind closed doors: manipulation, politics, leverage, bribery, allying with enemies, character assassinations (and actual assassinations), and proxy wars mobilised by rich and major powers. Though the perspectives come largely from the Kaul family, Jade War also explores the impact such proxy wars will have on the people, particularly refugees, people in countries rife with corruption, and the lower class people who will do what they can to make it.

But if you’re not too interested in the political and economic machinations of war, don’t worry: Jade War still delivers a powerful and impressive story about the members of the Kaul family. At the heart of the story, the characters and their stories coalesce into a haunting narrative about the personal and familial costs of one’s decisions and their irrevocable consequences. I liked the characters in Jade City, but Jade War made me love them – the characters’ stories are incredible, well-paced, and true to their developments. The pay-offs too? Unforgettable and will make you even more excited for the third instalment of Jade City.

Although there are many reasons to love Jade City, I think a reason why this book is so bloody brilliant is because of its characters. Fonda Lee is such an impeccable writer; everything she writes is so tight; there is no room for loose ends and development that meanders, and it shows. Indeed, her characters are no exception; the characters in Jade City, in particular the Kaul family, are some of the most realised and thoughtfully developed characters I have ever had the pleasure to read. Jade City established ripe ground for brilliant character development, and Lee did not squander any opportunities to develop the characters in Jade War.

When I say that the characters become ‘greener’, I borrow the expression used by the characters in the book. Someone who is ‘green’ is someone who holds steadfast to their moral code as a jade warrior, a Green Bone; it is someone who adheres to their values as a Green Bone and their way of life and being. Indeed, the events of Jade War will test all the characters that you will love; it will push them to the edge, it will reveal how far they will go for their clan and their family. In particular, the story of Jade War will reveal the mortality of loyalty and honour, how tightly they will hold onto what they love and their way of life, and what they are willing to risk and sacrifice.

In the same vein, Jade War will delve further into the characters, their identities, and their motivations, as they grapple with new roles and responsibilities in the clan that will force them to make impossible decisions. Across the book, you will witness the characters change, growing into the people that they have no choice but to become, and doing things that they may regret for the rest of their lives – but all, in the end, for good for the clan and their family. If it wasn’t clear in the first book, it will be evident in this: the characters in Jade War are all morally-gray. But here is what makes Jade War a brilliant book (and exemplifies why this series is fantastic): even if you disagree with the characters and their thoughts and their motivations and their choices, you will understand why they do it. Which, of course, makes it a more nail-biting read.

I don’t want to talk too much about this because I think it is best left discovered as you read, but I unexpectedly found a few favourite new characters – some of which are old and you would have met in Jade City, but some of which are new. Though Shae still has a significant role in Jade War, you will see more of Wen as well – a character I was intrigued by in Jade City – and how her identity as a stone-eye (someone who doesn’t react to jade and thus can’t wield it; an identity which holds a lot of taboo) will structure the trajectory of her story, her choices, and her life. Be excited for the characters and their development in Jade War; it is fantastic.

Friends asked me how I found this book whilst reading it, and the best word I could use to describe it was… ‘bigger’ – and I don’t mean that in the physical-page-number sense. Whilst Jade City explored and developed the city and streets and communities of the city of Janloon, Jade War will venture beyond the small island’s confines and will follow the characters on their journeys beyond its borders. Readers will visit Uwiwa Islands, spend a great deal of time in Espenia, and will become intimately familiar with the conflicts between the other nations. But not only do we become familiar with its geography and their roles and affect on Kekon, readers will also get an idea of how their cultures and values differ.

Naturally, as the world of Jade War gets bigger, readers will really begin to see how small the island of Kekon is in the context of the world stage and international relations. Moreover, Jade War strongly introduces something that was alluded to Jade City but was never really palpable: the perspectives of people outside of the city of Janloon, or the people who live outside of the Green Bone way. As the characters clash with foreign governments and thus different perspectives of how the world works, Lee powerfully and profoundly reveals how insular Kekon and the clans are through the outsiders' prejudiced yet astute perspectives of Green Bones and their ethnocentric isolationist values. I thought this was brilliant, and I loved how these cultural clashes call into question the morality of the characters in the story, particularly the Kauls.

Furthermore, such differing perspectives will provoke readers to think about and confront the judgments made by the Kauls and those that oppose them - and the tectonic shift in how I perceived the Kauls was so riveting. I love the Kauls dearly, but I too later realised that I had romanticised the Green Bone way and was piqued (and later, impressed) that I had become so drawn into the Kauls' journey and had fervently justified their decisions only to realise -- wait, hang on. Quite frankly, this happens so subtly in the book (around Chapter 21?) and is one of the most affecting and powerful writing I have read in a long time. 

However, what I found particularly interesting (and pleasantly surprising) is that a significant subplot is dedicated to exploring a character’s immigrant experience, and is thus confronted with individuals of diaspora in another country. I actually loved this subplot immensely. I enjoyed the explorations of how people of diaspora find and maintain pieces of their heritage as a process of cultural preservation of their identities and forming communities, whilst also adopting behaviours and ways of life typical in their new home which may be alienating and othering from the perspective of someone who has never had to straddle two cultures. In other words, it was so interesting (and validating) to see the implications of a hyphenated diasporic identity within this fantasy world, and the portrayals of Kekonese-Espenian identity and experiences were authentic and multi-faceted.

All of us are familiar with books with ‘second-book syndrome’; where the second book feels like filler between the epic beginning and epic ending. I am pleased, however, to tell you all that Jade War does more than just live up to its sequel: Jade War takes everything that is good in Jade City and makes it excellent.

I’m calling it now: Jade War is the sequel of the year, and has set a high bar of how sequels should be done. Extraordinary in every way, Jade War is a shining example the incredible power of Asian fantasy and why Lee will forever be among my favourite authors. Lee should be proud of her hard work and of Jade War; it is an accomplishment and a masterpiece.

Find my full review on my blog as well.


3rd July:
Have you ever finished a book, and then slowly realised... "well, holy shit, I just finished my new favourite book of all time?"


I love JADE CITY with my whole heart but... I didn't think it was possible, but JADE WAR is even better.
Profile Image for Rachel (TheShadesofOrange).
2,203 reviews3,186 followers
November 13, 2021
4.5 Stars
This has easily become one of my new favourite fantasy series. It just feels so different than the classic fantasy narratives I am use to reading.

I thoroughly enjoyed the first book, but I loved the sequel even more. I have become more attached to the characters in this one. I love that they are all complex and morally grey, often making controversial decisions. There are so many iconic, jaw dropping moments in this book.

I am definitely looking forward to reading the finale book, Jade Legacy.
Profile Image for Alienor ✘ French Frowner ✘.
849 reviews3,877 followers
Want to read
January 17, 2019
I regularly wake up in the dead of night thinking about how this book is probably gonna destroy me in the best way possible, so I guess all's good 🤷‍♀️
Profile Image for John Mauro.
Author 5 books513 followers
February 12, 2023
Check out my recent interview with Fonda Lee at Grimdark Magazine.

Jade War is an example of an absolutely perfect middle volume of a trilogy.

Jade War builds upon the outstanding foundation of Jade City, especially its multi-layered web of inter-personal conflicts, and then takes the conflicts to a global scale.

Fonda Lee's writing is outstanding, as usual. I especially admire her character work in Jade War, which has a number of heartbreaking scenes that will stay with me for a very long time.

For a more complete analysis, I will point you to the excellent review by my friend, James Tivendale, at Grimdark Magazine.
Profile Image for Virginja ↢ 99% imp.
185 reviews110 followers
June 6, 2022
2🌟 DNF at 82%

“I am not a politician. Gold and jade, never together. But if you must choose between the two, count on jade.”

Jade War is my most disappointing read of 2021. Even if we are only barely in July, I highly doubt I will be as frustrated with a book as I was with Jade War. In my review of Jade City I pointed out how much Fonda Lee’s writing relies on exposition. If the first book at least tried to alternate exposition paragraphs with actual narration, Jade War totally abandons this style to focus entirely on excruciatingly long, bland explanations about the world political situation, useless digressions about life, death and miracles of secondary characters, and a myriad of other questionable interruptions.

Fonda Lee created a complex world, with intricate political ties between countries. However, she is so focused on explaining every small detail, that every other aspect of the book is obscured by this mass of informations. I could totally understand this choice if all the expositions were somewhat useful, but really, most of them are not. Icing on the cake, some explanations are repeated multiple times through out the story. Every time someone talks to Espenian representatives, Lee feels the need to specify not only who these people are, where they worked, to whom their are faithful. She repeats - and swear, she does this every. single. time! - the international background, the alliances in place, how this or that conflict is going, the economical pacts, the emigration rates... Why the fuck should I care about all these informations when I already know what’s happening, because you, author, have already told me two chapters prior?? Is all this really necessary understand a two page conversation??

Another enormous problem is that Fonda Lee ignores the writer’s golden rule, “show don’t tell”. The author constantly summarizes conversations and events, and states how the characters are feelings instead of displaying it. Lee goes as far as to cut entire dialogues, reduce scenes to the bare minimum, and all of this is sacrificed for more paragraphs of exposition. Here an example (in which I censored the characters’ names to avoid spoilers): “The words came reasonably smoothly; HUY had spent much of the past two weeks with the radio in her office tuned to the Espenian station and several hours talking to herself in Espenian, refreshing her memory of the language she’d had limited occasion to use since returning home from WIWIWI. She spoke more slowly and deliberately than usual not only to minimize her accent, but to set the tone of the meeting.” okay cool. Why was this thing about the radio mentioned here? Why not show us in previous scenes that she was listening to it? Why not tell us about the machinations in another way other than bland exposition?

You can easily understand how uninspired and boring the writing is by simply reading how uneventfully Lee describes pregnancies, weddings and births. In the following paragraph (once again, no spoilers) it is mentioned for the first time that a woman is pregnant: “QUY could always say that she was going to the doctor for a prenatal checkup and that TYA was the one accompanying her. At twelve weeks, QUY was clearly showing her pregnancy.” Twelve weeks, and this is the first time it comes up? Twelve weeks, and you tell us like this??

The exposition would be okay if it was backed by a strong plot, but Jade War, despite the cool title, has no plot at all. 80% of the book is talking about things to come, setting up stakes and tension; the problem is the payoff is extremely poor in the majority of cases. For the first half of the book Lee sets up a situation where two characters are directly opposing in a media war, but when they finally confront each other it only lasts one chapter and the outcome is never brought up again.
Jade War is extremely boring as there is no clear direction to the events. In every chapter, Lee skips a weeks at a time, even entire months or seasons and proceeds to summarizing what happened in those time gaps. In the long run this method was jarring and constantly broke my immersion; it felt like the author didn’t know how to manage the story timeline. Apart from the occasional fight or interesting plot point, Jade War consists in the characters jumping between a meeting with Tom, a tea with Dick, and another meeting with Harry. That’s it; that’s the fantastic plot of this book. Neither can I say this novel suffers the “middle book syndrome”, because I really don’t know what it was supposed to set up for the sequel. Everything that happens in Jade War was already established in Jade City, so what is the point of this book?

Thanks to Fonda Lee’s passion for time skips, Jade War spans three years. However, if we consider the characters’ evolution, it feels like barely a month. The characters don’t evolve, they stay the same from beginning to end. Apart from Anden and Shae, I don’t see any difference in the other members of the cast. I cannot but blame this inertia on the massive amount of exposition instead of letting us readers live the moment. The dialogues, when there are, are shallow, always circling around the same matters and with little regards to how the people talking feel. The amount of time spent on analyzing characters’ thoughts and feelings is non-existent; as I said before, we are merely told how they feel in what I would call “catch-up paragraphs”, where Lee sums up what happened during the time skips and explains how the character felt in the aftermath of an event. What a boring writing style!
An example of how shallow the narrative arcs is Bero. Bero’s arc is supposed to show how jade inevitably corrupts people, but all his character development is off page! One day he decides that jade ruined his life, and that’s it. There are no reflection from his behalf on the matter, we are simply told that he feels that way. The same goes for Hilo. He started off as an easy going brute, and by the end of Jade War he is a brooding brute. What exactly did he accomplish in this book?
Some people praise this author for how intimate her writing is, how she can give life to her fictitious world. And then there’s I, here reading recaps and bad descriptions of cardboards characters and a very complicated yet boring world. Where are are the characters Lee set up in Jade City? Where the fuck is the war the title promised???

The only reason why I’m not giving this book one star is because I don’t give that rating unless a book is unreadable. Jade War is (barely) readable, and I still think the idea of magical Jade stones is really cool. I just wish the author had been competent enough to craft an interesting story.
Profile Image for Elle (ellexamines).
1,093 reviews17.7k followers
September 11, 2023
“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 remembered adoring Jade City, with its incredible writing, sharp twists, and strong characters. But to me, this will go down as the book that made me see the Green Bone Saga as what it is — a devastating family drama within a political drama, where the moments where the political overpowers the personal devastate most of all.

As Jade War begins, the No Peak clan of Kekon is at a crossroads. Neither of the two surviving grandchildren of the Kauls were expected to become leaders, especially not in the aftermath of a devastating feud. Anden, the cousin who helped them win their war, refuses to wear jade. Yun Dorupon, the traitorous former Weather Man to No Peak, and Bero and Mudt, the murderers who benefitted, remain at large. The Mountain has begun to rebuild, with Ayt Mada consolidating power with Ree Turahon, the Weather Man, and Nau Suenzen, successor to Gont Asch as Horn of the Mountain.

And across the sea, tensions rise between rival nations Shotar and Ygutan over the small province of Oortoko, but in an international scene, larger powers are quick to jostle their way: including Espenia, Kekon's historic ally, now allied to Shotar in their attempt to keep Oortoko to themselves. With No Peak selling jade to Espenia and the Mountain selling jade to Ygutan, the war between the clans has never been stronger — or more dangerous.

Jade War turns this novel into not just an intense family drama, but an extensive political drama told through the viewpoints of a family. What struck me throughout this novel was just how full the world feels. Every side characters feels like a real person, with genuine intentions of their own. Each nation would fit right in at a UN policy summit. But these lead characters, perhaps above all else, breathe rays of light into the novel.

“If you want to lead, you can’t wait for everyone to line up behind you.”
Hilo, current Pillar and former Horn to No Peak, is charismatic, loving to his family, and the most ruthless member all at once. Yet his cunning is never without reason, and this book seems him work to develop his skills as a Pillar... even though he never expected to be one. This character is just so consistently dynamic, so well-written.

“She could never be a Green Bone herself, as much as she felt she was one at heart, but she could think like a Green Bone. She was an enabler, an aide, a hidden weapon, and that was worth something. Perhaps a great deal.”
Wen, the enigmatic wife to Hilo, is a stone-eye, a taboo word for someone who does not react to jade. Through Jade War, she begins finding her identity as not just a creator of stigma, but as a tool, an arc which is beyond satisfying. Oh, Wen. A scene with her made me cry.

“Refusing to wear jade. You’re like a goose that won’t go near water.”
Anden, cousin and adopted son to the Kauls, is sent abroad to Espenia, where he discovers the Crews of Blaise Kromner are perhaps even less caring than the clans. Anden's storyline here is a brilliant exploration of diasporic relationships with a so-called homeland, leading to him building relationships with a new family of his own, even as he waits for another home. And his romantic storyline... oh, god. (Also, I just finished Succession and Anden could absolutely do Cousin Greg but Cousin Greg could not pull off Anden.)

“Perhaps she and Ayt Mada had something else in common, Shae thought—the arrogance to rationalize their own worst ideas, to commit to a course of action out of pride without truly understanding the possibility of disaster.”
Shae, Weather Man to the No Peak Clan, has rapidly become one of my favorite fictional characters, ever. The sister who left Kekon for study has become a politically sharp pragmatist, willing to consider perspectives besides her own in a way Hilo will not and cannot. Shae is marked for death from page one. She knows this story will end with either her or Ayt Mada, bleeding on the pavement. The reader knows it, too, and fears it. Shae's machinations to befriend Ayt's successor are a delight to read. Her relationship and conversations with Ayt are just as beyond. And oh, her romantic storyline.

The catharsis of a tragedy comes not just in the horror, but in the knowledge that there is love. There is love between all of these characters, the side characters and the leads, and it cannot stop the sadness awaiting them. It will not stop them from lying to each other. And when the protection of the clan comes first, the love they feel for one another can never stop them betraying each other.

A heart-pounding, incredible novel. I will think about this for years.

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Profile Image for Megu.
132 reviews1,441 followers
March 28, 2023
Zajebistość w czystej formie, tak się powinno pisać wieloletnie fantastyczne sagi. Zero syndromu drugiego tomu. Kocham Fondę. Pozdrawiam babcię. To jest bardzo poważna recenzja.
Profile Image for Nicole.
749 reviews1,933 followers
September 22, 2021
I read Jade City over two years ago and while I enjoyed it, since the reason wasn't released yet, I just never read it. Until a few of my friends decided to start this trilogy and we ended up buddy reading this book, which helped me out a lot since I forgot almost everything and the recap I read wasn't enough to cover everything. Anyhow, I ended up enjoying this book more than I expected. Lee certainly established herself as a talented fantasy writer with this sequel capable of weaving a complex world-building/politics and writing three-dimensional characters.

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!

Profile Image for Sarah Gailey.
Author 83 books3,362 followers
April 23, 2019
I don't usually write reviews but I have to. You guys. YOU GUYS.


Fonda Lee shouldn't have been able to write a better book than Jade City because that isn't technically possible, but then somehow, incredibly: she DID??? This book is tense and lush and beautiful and violent and it completely wrecked me. I couldn't stop reading it. It features the best fight scene in the series so far, a fight scene that I had to read standing up because I was so adrenalized by it. The character development is seamless, the intrigue is INCREDIBLY tense, the female characters are powerful and flawed. The prose, as always, is stunning.

This book is incredible. (I had to say it a second time.) Read it.
Profile Image for Justine.
1,155 reviews311 followers
August 11, 2019
A fantastic follow up to the extremely impressive Jade City.

Jade War keeps to the same standard of excellence set by its predecessor with complicated yet precise storytelling, deep worldbuilding, and fully realised characters. There were moments of shock and surprise, and given what Lee showed she was willing to do in Jade City, many turns in the story where I really wasn't sure what the outcome would be.

Yet again Lee shows that she is a writer to be reckoned with; one who improves upon her previous accomplishments with each successive book. I have no doubt that the final book in the Green Bone Saga, Jade Legacy, will be a masterful conclusion.
Profile Image for Lauren Lanz.
721 reviews252 followers
August 4, 2022
The Green Bone Saga has me in a violent chokehold, and this sequel may as well be the nail in the coffin…....more specifically: Kaul Hilo continues to be a personal problem for me, because this book effectively blurred the lines between loving and hating him and now I’m just floating in a weird space of morally grey sludge and who am I kidding he is definitely still my favourite. Damn you, Fonda Lee.

“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.”

For those of you who have no idea what I’m rambling about, may I humbly present to you: an Asian-inspired, Godfather esque urban fantasy, centered around a cutthroat family clan fighting for control of their island’s magical sense-enhancing jade. Premise is on point, characters are all a little bit evil, and the plot is absolutely wild. What more could you want? Nothing, silly, because this series is everything.

Jade City was insanely good. Naturally, I had crazy high hopes that Jade War would be a sequel to end all sequels, eclipsing even its amazing predecessor. Call me psychic, because Fonda Lee absolutely did that. I’ve never had to take so many damn ‘breathers’ while reading a book before this one crashed into my life. The Kaul family and their ruinous rivalry with the Mountain clan is going to ruin my life.

Kekon Island is such a vibrant home-base for this series. Its bustling streets filled with gangsters, thieves, shopkeeps and clan warriors make the pages come alive, to the point that I can practically feel the hum of jade running through the city’s veins. Jade War took the island’s foundation and expanded it tenfold, introducing us intimately to the cultures of the surrounding regions like Espenia, and raising tensions by tying these foreign places irreversibly to the fate of the clan. I loved learning the nuances and politics of neighbouring regions offshore from the Kaul family’s homeland—it made everything feel so much bigger in this sequel. The masterful wordbuilding and heady atmosphere alone are enough to warrant my admiration.

The number of crazy fights, assasination plots, and generally anxiety-inducing plot twists in Jade War made this book utterly unputdownable for me. I mean, I could rattle off at least four or five scenes where I had to pause and contemplate how the hell what I was reading actually just happened. Fonda Lee is hardcore alright; I owe my fractured little heart to her after all the pain I’ve been through with this series. Her action scenes remain top-tier (I’d expect no less from a real-life black belt), never feeling rushed or dragging. They cut deep, and leave you reeling from the impact without fail. Just amazing.

“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.”

Ever since Fonda Lee showed us a glimpse of Anden’s potential in Jade City, I was thoroughly enamoured with his character, hoping he would play a more integral role in the rest of the series. Turns out I would fret no longer, because the growth Anden went through in Jade War was just incredible. Having Anden essentially exiled to Espenia, and using his experiences as a foreigner to broaden the world-building beyond Kekon Island was so clever. Beyond that, I adored seeing him come into his own in a place distant from the pressing influence of jade and the clan. Anden’s relationship with Cory tugged on my heartstrings; bittersweet throughout, being many of Anden’s firsts, I can’t even say I’m all that mad about how things resulted between them (next conquest: Lott Jin??). Anden is such a complex person, and his internal struggle with the choice not to wear jade never fails to get me. In both Jade City and Jade War, he’s been the focus of my personal favourite or ‘standout’ scenes, so he’s climbing the ranks to possibly become my favourite character.

I could write a whole novel about Hilo, but I’ll try to keep it short for my sanity’s sake. He threw me for a thousand loops in this installment, with one decision in particular that had me abruptly stop reading, dread washing through my body, staring into space thinking there is no way that just happened. Sometimes, I wanted to scream at him. Sometimes, I was cheering for him. Other times, I wanted to envelop him in a tender hug. It was nervous about Hilo taking his role as Pillar of the clan head-on, being forced to mature from a renowned street-fighting brute into a more resolved leader. Admittedly, I didn’t think him capable of holding down such a role, though his growth was profound over the four-to-five years that passed in this book. I am so invested in his character, and am once again praying that Fonda Lee spares him in the series finale…

Shae …lord, where do I begin. She—like Hilo—drove me a little bit insane this book. I was so looking forward to more badassery from her, especially after she went rampaging through the streets with Hilo in Jade City following a certain *hem* tragedy. I couldn’t tell if I felt sorry for her, or sorry for the people around her (who often had to take the fall for what were ultimately her tough choices). Her journey was emotional as all hell, and while I wanted to shake some sense into her at times, I was thoroughly glues to the pages anytime her chapters appeared. I adored the sisterly bond she and Wen shared, with Wen always having the best advice and reassurances around. Also, that duel between Shae and Ayt? So good!!!

Yeah, this review is way too long, but I can’t help myself when it comes to this series. Anyways, if I haven’t yelled it enough, go read these books!
Profile Image for Magrat Ajostiernos.
580 reviews4,062 followers
November 1, 2022
No tengo mucho más que añadir a la reseña que hice de la primera parte de la trilogía porque sigo sintiendo exactamente lo mismo. Amo a los personajes y esta historia de guerra, venganza y honor sigue teniéndome completamente atrapada.
Quizás este libro es más pausado que el primero, la autora amplía este universo suyo con más política, muchos más acuerdos internacionales, nuevos mafiosos, traficantes y contrabandistas... aquí se mueven factores más grandes que lo que apuntaba Ciudad de jade, pero esta complejidad de la trama no lastra el ritmo en ningún momento.
Me ha encantado ver crecer a todos los personajes, y especialmente la importancia de los personajes femeninos (Wen y Shae son ♥︎), quizás sentía menos interés en las partes que tenían lugar en Espenia porque sinceramente, yo soy muy de Kekon, pero sea como sea, creo que cada parte de la historia aportaba algo para aumentar la profundidad de este mundo y de sus personajes.
Para mi sigue siendo una saga familiar con sangre y honor, muy al estilo de El Padrino, y eso me encanta.
Me muero por leer el tercer y último volumen (¿La nueva generación????) pero sin duda esta es ya una de mis trilogías preferidas de los últimos tiempos.

Profile Image for Allison Hurd.
Author 3 books748 followers
August 5, 2019
Argh. I was so excited for this. The first was pitch perfect for me--an endearing mash up of mobsters, wuxia magic, gang wars and family drama. This felt more like a bunch of summaries from different points of view, a series of short stories that...don't really ever live up to the title.

CONTENT WARNING: (no actual spoilers, just a list of topics)

Things to love:

-Shae, Wen, Cory, Rohn. I thought these were great characters and each had very interesting arcs, although Rohn's disappointed me somewhat.

-The politicking. The ins and outs, the favors, longstanding grudges, tits-for-tats etc. were all extensively thought out and meted out for us to understand.

-The world. We see more of the world in this one, and it's an interesting take on colonizers from the POV of the recently oppressed.

-Still a fun ride. Despite my reservations and nits that I pick, I read 70% of it in one go. It's got drama and humor and high stakes--it was fun to be here for it.

Things I did not love:

-The plot. If you thought book 1 was slow, this one makes it look like a roller coaster. I don't know what we achieved in this book? It was also quite laundry list. "This happened. And then this happened. But let me explain to you how that happened after the fact."

-The writing. I thought Jade City was beautiful--emotive, evocative, but still flirting with the noir or gritty side of the genre. This was a bit more overblown and yet also more distant emotionally from the characters. There would often be multiple similes in the same sentence, and most of the book felt like a snapshot, a hightlight reel of the news like they used to show before propaganda films. Probably also because of this, there was a lot of telling and very little showing.

-Anden and Hilo. I...don't understand? I don't understand them. They kept doing things that contradicted other things or actions they'd previously taken.

-The solutions. Eesh. A lot of this was amateur hour crap. Sorry, Kauls, but if this is the way you respond, you need a new system. Ayt's gonna wipe the floor with you, and she ought to, she's way better at this. Where the hell were the No Peak lawyers!! This is EXACTLY why you have mob lawyers. Listen to me, aspiring gangsters: Get. A. Lawyer. Get a team of lawyers. And a media specialist. I don't care how fancy your education was, you can't be both an expert in kneebreaking and brand positioning. There you go, some free advice if for anyone who is reading this series for a "how to" guide to leading a cult, gang, or operation.

-The ending. I think there was some deadline writing here. I started noticing inconsistencies, the tropes became overwhelming, things were recycled from book one...I would say this had been a 4 star book until the final few chapters.

Yeah, I'm not sure what to do here. I'm disappointed that I didn't love it. I think I was just expecting a different story than the one the author wanted to tell. I was expecting to ride the high emotion and the energy we had at the end of book 1 and instead it's essentially treated as its own "season," if this were television. As such, it felt like a lot of set up or filler and not so much its own story.
Profile Image for ChopinFC.
271 reviews79 followers
September 20, 2019
Jade War was an absolute home run, as the narrative surpasses the first book in almost every respect!

After following some intuition, and much curiosity from GR friends that recommended 'Jade City', I really enjoyed the 'urban-fantasy' , 'asian-gangster' inspired setting of the first book. At its end, so many threads were left bare and hanging, that I had to immediately get into Jade War.

Jade War was stunning in conception, characterization, world building and magic system!!!

It's fucking amazing how Fonda Lee was able to 'raise the bar' in almost every detail of the narrative!

* The plot is more engaging.

* The prose is more fluid, with excellent dialogue and interaction between characters.

* The world of Kekon, explodes in authenticity and vividness with so much crafting and detail, that it blew me away and drew me instantly closer to the story!

* The magic system felt so organic and the incorporation of 'bioactive Jade' in the story was masterfully interwoven in all of the characters and life in 'Kekon'.


Fonda Lee expands the world of 'Jade City' and we finally visit other countries, specially 'Espen', which will alter the course of much of the story. Lee is quite ambitious as she brings about 'foreing wars', that will also have geo-political ramificaitons to both 'No Peak' and 'Mountain' clans. Ultimately Jade War has amazing 'action scenes' with fantastic use of 'jade powers' between the asian clans. Yet, it is the 'political' and 'business' endeavors of different clan members that will most directly affect the course of the great clan battle! I was quite impressed with the level of detail the author placed in non-violent events ( politics, business transactions) and how it all leveled out at the end of the book.

The prized jewel of Jade War are its characters, and this time around Fonda Lee created some uniquely amazing individual and clan family members! We see the return of most family members from the 'No Peak' clan, and the family bond is stronger than ever. There's great exposition in the lives of protagonists such as 'Hilo', ' Shae' and 'Anden'. Secondary characters added, only improved the flow and tension in the story. You can't help but really root for mostly 'good family gangsters' that occasionally kill and dismember its enemies!

“The clan is my blood and the Pillar is its master.”
― Fonda Lee, Jade War

In the end, Jade War reminded of 'Godfather' or even 'Sopranos', where you know these are evil people willing to stop at nothing to keep power and protect their loved ones...but you gotta love them!!

5 Stars!

Profile Image for Deborah Obida.
679 reviews619 followers
February 4, 2021
“Belief is the first step toward making your dreams come true,”

Jade War is a great addition to this series, it is even better than Jade City and I thought that was a great book, I lack words to say how much I love this book, it exceeded all the expectations I have.

The events here took place a year and some months after book one. The synopsis says it all, but if you haven't read it, here's a summary.

The clans signed a treaty to end the clan war going on, other countries wants jade for themselves to arm their armies, their neighbouring countries are warring each other and the Espenians have picked a side. The clans have to work together to make sure that the winning country don't attempt to take over theirs.

The main theme in this book is family, I love the way the author depicted the Kaul and Maiks, they are not only loyal to each other they also love each other, there is also romance in this, the fight scenes were well depicted, I love it.

The world building is exceptional, this is an urban fantasy but the only thing that makes it somewhat contemporary is technology, apart from technology everything else including the countries are made up, though they mirror our world. The magic system is amazing, Jade is like a gemstone, it's gotten only in Janloon and only the natives of that country can use it, when you wear the jade either as a jewelry or studded to the skin, it gives the wearer super strength, makes them fast, they can deflect both people and objects among other things.

The characters in this series are awesome, the author did a good job, it's been a while since I read about characters with such depth and personality. No two characters are the same and none is the clone of another. This series is written in third person multiple POV of the Kaul family and Bero that I still loathe.

Hilo has now adapted to the Pillar role, he was struggling in book one but now he is better and no longer wants to solve all the Horn's problems, he also listens to Shae. Despite the above, he is still violent and will kill anyone who threatens his family. I love that he didn't really change, he just evolved.

Shae is the best weatherman ever, she knows her job and does it well, she has made lots of business opportunities that will generate money for the clan.

Anden is now in Espenian, it took time but he later adapted, even abroad he met some green bones and had found a way to help the clan.

Wen is the best, her relationship with Shae is what I love most in this book, if not for her efforts, the clan won't have reached the level they are in now. Her openness and willingness to help the clan is deeply admirable.

The Maik brothers have more page space in this book, I got to know them better. Kehn has a POV in this book, he is so calm, loyal and hardworking.
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