Jade Legacy by Fonda Lee

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.

*****

I received a copy of this book from the publisher, Orbit. All thoughts are my own.

This review will contain spoilers for book 1, Jade City, and book 2, Jade War.

Review:

I stand in sheer awe at Fonda Lee’s brilliant conclusion to The Green Bone Saga. The sheer scope of this book (almost 30 years), the depth of character growth in Hilo, Shae, Anden, and others, the breadth of international political and cultural events addressed. Lee somehow manages to assemble it all into an absolute masterpiece.

Jade Legacy is such a brilliant title for this final book, because truly this story is one about legacy: the legacy of the Kauls and the Ayts and their respective clans, the legacy of green bones, from small island fighters to major players in international politics, the legacy of Hilo and Shae, young rebellious teenagers who questioned the way clans ought to be run turned jaded clan leaders. Lee so brilliantly explores all of these areas, weaving together personal stories of pain and growth with the power plays of an international superpower.

Let’s start small. Specifically, let’s start with Shae and Hilo’s stories. Perhaps it’s because I only recently read Jade City and Jade War for the first time (late September, in fact), that it feels like just recently was I reading the exploits of the young Horn of No Peak, brash and charismatic, or the recently returned daughter determined to make a living for herself without the clans and without Jade. Both headstrong, brilliant jade warriors of their generation. And all of a sudden, Hilo and Shae have aged twenty, thirty years. They’ve become that next generation of leaders, the figureheads that others look to. But they’re also past their martial prime, the speed and reflexes that once came so naturally now require more energy, more effort. It amazes me that this aging, this slow progression of time, reads so naturally across this trilogy that so many of these changes only occurred to me as I started thinking about this review.

Taking one step back to look at the clan and the legacy of the Kaul’s, the progression of Hilo, Lan, and Shae living in their grandfather’s shadow as one of the most stories rebels of Kekon, to the rebellion of Kekon barely even mentioned in passing felt so subtle, yet so stark. With Legacy, Lee brings in the new generation of Kauls with Niko, Jaya, and Ru, and manages to so perfectly capture the generational shifts. There’s so much that stays the same, with characters becoming disillusioned by symbolism of Jade and the power of the clans, or characters charging headfirst into battle, eager to make their name among the clan’s green bones. Yet with the generational shift, as Kekon goes from shuttered island nation to international power, the reasoning and justifications differ so greatly.

Pulling back once again, I can easily state that my favorite aspect of this book is the care, consideration, and depth Lee gives to the political machinations. No Peak and Mountain have yet to find peace, but with this coming age of technology and the ever-increasing international presence Kekon has, military wars have fallen out of favor to economic and cultural disputes. Jade War shows the clans establishing footholds into the politics of other countries. Jade Legacy truly expands those proxy wars, juggling so many different players, so many different countries, rogue agents, and factions, yet I never felt overwhelmed or lost. I also loved that Lee show’s the power of a cultural victory. A major subplot within Legacy not only securing financial status, but No Peak using its resources to establish its preferred image of jade-wielding green bones within other countries. The medical jade campaigns, the cinematic pushes, both to make the lives of green bones easier abroad, but also to oil the wheel for future economic campaigns.

Legacy, of course, is written at the signature breakneck pace of this series. Chapters will skip months at a time to show advances, then focus in on how one small event, one short conversation, will have lasting effects on the rest of the story. And naturally, Lee remains unafraid to continually break the reader’s heart. There were so many times I found myself shouting at my Kindle, unwilling to believe that someone had died or ‘holy shit Fonda actually went there’. The sheer emotional rollercoaster that is this book had me entranced.

Obviously, I rate this book a 5/5. There’s really no other rating for it. The scale of the plot, the growth of the characters, the sheer brilliance of the entire book really. There’s no way a single review can do this book justice, so I beg you, please read this series.


r/Fantasy 2021-22 Bingo Squares:

  • Published in 2021
  • Cat Squasher

Publication Date: 30 November 2021
Publisher: Orbit
Format: eBook, ARC
Pages: 736
Word Count: ~251,000
ISBN: 035651059X 
Buy It Here: Amazon | Google Books | Barnes and Nobles | Goodreads

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