Jade City by Fonda Lee is an epic urban fantasy focusing on the city of Kekon. The war that saw the liberation of Kekon from foreign powers is now over and a new generation vies for power in the city.
The Green Bones (warriors who can wear jade to give them supernatural abilities) have split into two clans following their victory, the Mountain and No Peak. We follow the Kaul family who head the No Peak clan as the tensions between the two clans begin to escalate.
I really enjoyed this book. It took a little while to get into and settle into the politics of the two families and the wider politics of the island nation of Kekon and how it fit into the world but once I was in I was in. The story is kind of a mix of a crime family, godfather type story and also a martial arts kung fu kind of story and they work really, really well together.
Lee has woven the Green Bones’ abilities and powers into the mythology of the world and into the fabric of the setting and it informs everything about the story. For me that kicks everything up a notch.
The story and the conflict felt refreshing, in as much as it wasn’t a standard good versus evil kind of plot. We weren’t following the eager, innocent heroes as they go off and fight the evil dark overlord. We’re watching the escalating tensions and conflicts of two rival clans within the world of organised crime. Obviously our sympathies sit firmly with our protagonists’ clan, No Peak, as their opposition is headed by a bit of a sociopath.
Whilst there were moments where a character might wonder what life would like away from the clans, they were few which I thought was good. It was nice and refreshing not to read too many moral quandaries about being part of a life of crime. They were trying to do best by their family, with whatever means were necessary.
This is a seriously fun book, set in a great world, and with characters that you could get behind. I’m already looking forward to the next one.
If you’re after something a bit different than your usual epic fantasy, or from your usual urban fantasy, but that scratches both of those itches then I heartily recommend this book. Well, I heartily recommend it anyway!
Now got a real hankering for triad style fantasy so if anyone knows of any others, hit me up!