Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee

Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee
Fonda Lee
Star Rating
Reviewer's Rating
Nov 30, 2021

Welcome to #NewTitleTuesday, where we take a brief look at a new title that's hitting the shelves - and patrons' holds lists - at your library.

I always love spotlighting fantasy novels, however it can sometimes be a difficult thing, as fantasy novels often come in a series, so patrons rarely want to jump in to the third book in a series if they haven't read the first two yet, but in this particular case, the series is so strong, I might have to make an exception. Or, better yet, point you toward the FIRST book in the series to get you set up for the latest installment. Today markes the debut of the third and final book in Fonda Lee's astounding Green Bone Saga, JADE LEGACY.

The first book in the series, JADE CITY, introduces us to a world very similar to our own - there are cars, skyscrapers, and telephones. However, there is one very important distinction - the small island nation of Kekon is the only place on earth that supplies a mineral that gives the wearer supernatural powers: jade. The mining, crafting, and distribution of jade is controlled by powerful crime syndicates who control the island, with their soldiers and enforcers wearing jade earrings, belts, bracelets, and necklaces. The more jade they wear, the more magic power they wield. Green Bones - the slang term for members of these crime families who wear jade - rule the neighborhoods and clash with rival clans in running street battles. So right off the bat, even though this is a fantasy series, the Green Bone Saga might seem a bit more like "The Godfather" than "Lord of the Rings." But Fonda Lee is an incredible writer, and her scope reaches way broader than just small street-level scuffles - in a word where jade gives power, all the world's politicians, militaries, businesses, celebrities, and athletes want in - and the warring clans of Kekon must put aside their decades-long blood feuds and face the threat.

In addition to scope, Lee is one of the best action writers around. Her battle scenes flow smoothly and clearly - motion is described from one move to the next in a cinematic style that is a joy to read. Green Bones augment their martial arts prowess with their jade-derived powers, so strikes might hit harder, yet some others have the ability to turn their skin and strong as steel to compensate. The laws of physics are gracefully broken through leaps, kicks, and punches. Action movies fast and is never indulgent.

Finally, Lee's greatest strength is in her characters. The families at the center of the story are flawed - like all families are - and with the pressure of maintaining order, expanding their reach, and the threat of betrayal and death around every corner, every character is stretched to the breaking point. Also, as the series begins, the rock on which the family depends is suddenly taken out, leaving the rest of the clan scrambling to assume roles and responsibilities they didn't think they would ever have to.

Worldbuilding, scope, action, and character - these are hallmarks of good fantasy series, and Fonda Lee has absolutely delivered. While we celebrate the release of her final installment of the Green Bone Saga trilogy with JADE LEGACY, go back and read the kickoff, JADE CITY, before a prestige streaming service purchases the rights and makes it into the next six-season-long fantasy blockbuster series that everyone will be talking about. 

Reviewed by Gregg W.
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