[Review] Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee | Spoiler-Free

The Kaul siblings battle rival clans for honor and control over an East Asia-inspired fantasy metropolis in Jade Legacy, the page-turning conclusion to the Green Bone Saga.

Jade, the mysterious and magical substance once exclusive to the Green Bone warriors of Kekon, is now coveted throughout the world. Everyone wants access to the supernatural abilities it provides, from traditional forces such as governments, mercenaries, and criminal kingpins, to modern players, including doctors, athletes, and movie studios. As the struggle over the control of jade grows ever larger and more deadly, the Kaul family, and the ancient ways of the Kekonese Green Bones, will never be the same.

Battered by war and tragedy, the Kauls are plagued by resentments and old wounds as their adversaries are on the ascent and their country is riven by dangerous factions and foreign interference. The clan must discern allies from enemies, set aside bloody rivalries, and make terrible sacrifices … but even the unbreakable bonds of blood and loyalty may not be enough to ensure the survival of the Green Bone clans and the nation they are sworn to protect.

Genre(s): Adult, (Urban) Fantasy
Series: The Green Bone Saga #3
Published by Orbit Books on Nov 30, 2021

[ Goodreads | Storygraph | Bookshop ]

➤ Representation (click to show)

East Asian-inspired setting & main cast; queer biracial MC [Anden], MLM multiracial Indigenous major character [Jirhu], M/M relationship(s)

➤ Content warnings (click to show)

major character death(s), teenager death(s), grief, xenophobia, racism, sexism, prostitution, sex-shaming, mention of miscarriages, PTSD, suicide (shooting, hanging), mentions of human trafficking, mentions of forced impregnation, mentions of human experimentation, addiction, withdrawal, bullying, ableism, ageism, sexual harassment, mentions of rape, on-page explosion, physical violence, gun violence, torture, pharmaceutical interrogation, corporal punishment, branding, animal deaths (mice, pet dog), marital infidelity, non-graphic sexual content

I received an advance review copy from the publisher; all opinions are my own and honest.

Honestly, I kept putting off reading this one because I wasn’t ready for it to be all over and because I knew it was going to rip my heart out. (Also because I just couldn’t get a copy of the first two books to reread, but mostly the first two reasons.) Then I kept putting off writing this review because I had a lot of incoherent feelings, and, again, I wasn’t ready for it to be all over … but here we are at last.

First things first: the ending made me cry. Not just a few tears shed at one point, but the full sniffles-and-snot ordeal, recurring every few pages for the last few chapters. And I don’t consider myself a crier when it comes to books! I can only say that I was not at all prepared, despite my anticipation and speculation about this book, especially since initially I wasn’t quite sure how the climax and falling action could possibly rise to the level of sky-high stakes: escalation after escalation after escalation.

But man, oh man, did Jade Legacy deliver. This is a series conclusion to remember.

As with the second installment, Jade War, the scope is epic — in timespan covered, themes explored, and thickness (page count) embodied by the book itself. This is where I think rereading the previous books would’ve helped me out, since so much has already happened and it all builds throughout the length of the trilogy; it would also have saved me some time in getting re-immersed in the Kauls’ world. But it definitely wasn’t necessary.

The ambitious narrative does mean that there are a fair few slower scenes among the intermediate peaks, though I wouldn’t label any of it as “fluff” in the pejorative sense. For me the political and socio/economic machinations were the least exciting (but, again, necessary to the story), while the domestic family moments were the highlights.

Even saying that seems like an oversimplification, though, because every element of this series is inextricably intertwined with the others. At its heart I maintain that this series is largely character-driven, but the plot and worldbuilding are also integral to the whole experience. (The clan is my blood and the Pillar is its master.) Seriously, I’m in awe of how much Fonda Lee packs in, somehow without rushing or cramming or losing sight of how important even the little moments can be.

If you’ve read the first two books, I probably don’t have to convince you to pick this one up and see it all through. If you’ve been waiting to start the series, I can now tell you that the ending is here and it does not disappoint. Either way, you’ll want to set aside plenty of time — and tissues — to really savor the read you’re in for.

4 stars

Conversion: 11 / 15 = 4 stars

Rating Details

Prose: 5 / 10
Characters & Relationships: 9 / 10
Emotional Impact: 7 / 10
Development/Flow: 6 / 10
Setting: 8 / 10

Diversity & Social Themes: 4 / 5
Intellectual Engagement: 3 / 5
Originality/Trope Execution: 5 / 5

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