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…

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Why read it?

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

It’s everything I loved about Game of Thrones—a sprawling family saga, a web of intrigue between warring houses, a nation on the brink of revolution, a complex world where trade and politics are cutthroat—but with wuxia and gangsters.

The first book is laser-focused on the conflict between two warrior clans fighting for control of the nation of Kekon’s capital city, but the aperture widens across the series to encompass the major powers (of which Kekon isn’t one)… and as we spend time with the members of the Kaul family, it’s impossible not to see how the dynamics of the…

I chose this book because I have a love of Asia, especially Japan and this story has a rich Asian setting with martial arts, yakuza-like elements, and a magic system based around the precious stone, jade that provides the wearer with special abilities. I also like how the story is centered around a family and the complex relationships between the different members which you don’t see very often in fantasy novels. This complicated family saga had me engrossed as it racked up the tension with great pacing, awesome characters, and dialogue.

I picked this book because its world building and mythos swept me away into a world unlike any I’d visited before. The magic and power jade granted to the green bones was fascinating. Likewise, when trying to use jade, those who were not green bones suffered great peril. I fell in love with the main character’s struggle to maintain loyalty to her family and still live her own life. The nail-biting climax had me fearing the outcome.

From Steven's list on fantasy set in strange new worlds.

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.

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