Jade City

By Fonda Lee,

Book cover of Jade City

Book description


'An epic drama reminiscent of the best classic Hong Kong gangster films but set in a fantasy metropolis so gritty and well-imagined that you'll forget you're reading a book' KEN LIU

'Gripping!' ANN LECKIE, author of Ancillary Justice and The Raven Tower

'Lee's astute…

Shepherd is reader supported. We may earn an affiliate commission when you buy through links on our website. (learn more)

Why read it?

6 authors picked Jade City as one of their favorite books. Why do they recommend it?

Switching to a more recent science fantasy novel, I loved Fonda Lee’s take on The Godfather meets Dune in a science fantasy setting. Sure, it’s not those same stories, but I love her inclusion of the gray side of society as having power and a semi-sanctioned place all their own. Lee leverages the concept of clans, honor, and neutral factions, weaving a prodigal child plot that is certain to grow thicker with the sequel. In a world where society is dominated by unseen levels of politics and mafia-like entities, the magical power of jade makes all the difference when conflict…

There is a beautiful specificity to this world where an Asian family dynasty plays out on a Shakespearean scale. The island of Kekon with its rich history, cadences of language, religious mythology, and magic infuses every aspect of the story. It is worldbuilding at its finest, place as a main character. Then, upon this strong foundation, Lee gives us the Kauls, rulers of a powerful clan, embroiled in warfare for the safety of their people and their very survival. She tackles sibling rivalry, identity, and the burden of living up to family expectations. I devoured this book.

From Deborah's list on urban fantasy with diverse characters.

This is one of my all-time favorite fantasy books. It has a mafia twist to it which was done incredibly well and has not only superbly developed characters but also entire cultures. As a female reader, I can’t handle books in which women are caricatures of actual humans and unfortunately that is the case in 90% of action or martial arts books or movies. However, that is not the case in Jade City. Fonda Lee, the author of Jade City, is a female, black belt martial artist and I think this was one of the reasons why the…

This book (the first of The Green Bone Saga) often gets short-handed as “A Chinese take on The Godfather” or “An Asian Sopranos.” I understand why but it’s also very much its own thing. It’s about two powerful clans who use fantastical powers enhanced by jade implants to vie for domination in a city that is like mid-twentieth century Hong Kong but with interesting departures. What is most delicious about this series is Lee’s utter commitment to believability, which often manifests as ruthless but necessary plot decisions regarding her characters. Despite the gritty material, there’s pure joy…

From Henry's list on readers seeking unique Asian fantasy.

As much as I love seeing fantasy worlds grappling with legal and political realities, I’m also fascinated by the question of fantasy crime. If you feel the same way, then you’ll be happy to hear that Fonda Lee’s Green Bone Saga is The Godfather retold with magic. It’s a story of family power struggles, preternaturally-enhanced abilities, and carefully-crafted action. I’m astonished at how clearly Lee’s scenes unfold in my mind, making them easy to follow even during the most frenetic of action sequences. I’m not the only one blown away by this series -- Jade City has won wide acclaim,…

From Dan's list on set in a modern fantasy world.

The first book of Fonda Lee’s fantasy trilogy takes place in an alternate world/universe that’s still at a mid-20th century level of technology. They have cars and phone lines, but no smartphones or computers. They also have access to a special type of jade that grants specific users insane physical strength and dexterity.

The result, in this book, is an engaging tale of thuggery as a Yakuza/Triad style organized crime family struggles to survive a brutal gang war for supremacy. It’s like The Matrix if Neo and friends had run into a bad crowd and gotten mixed up in…

From Wayne's list on or with a ton of action.

Want books like Jade City?

Our community of 6,000+ authors has personally recommended 10 books like Jade City.

Browse books like Jade City

5 book lists we think you will like!

Interested in sibling rivalry, magic-supernatural, and family?

6,000+ authors have recommended their favorite books and what they love about them. Browse their picks for the best books about sibling rivalry, magic-supernatural, and family.

Sibling Rivalry Explore 16 books about sibling rivalry
Magic-Supernatural Explore 400 books about magic-supernatural
Family Explore 429 books about family