Published by Orbit on June 26, 2018
Genres: Urban Fantasy, Fiction, Own Voices
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In this epic saga of magic and kungfu, four siblings battle rival clans for honor and power in an Asia-inspired fantasy metropolis.
* World Fantasy Award for Best Novel, winner* Aurora Award for Best Novel, winner* Nebula Award for Best Novel, nominee* Locus Award for Best Fantasy Novel, finalist
Jade is the lifeblood of the island of Kekon. It has been mined, traded, stolen, and killed for -- and for centuries, honorable Green Bone warriors like the Kaul family have used it to enhance their magical abilities and defend the island from foreign invasion.
Now, the war is over and a new generation of Kauls vies for control of Kekon's bustling capital city. They care about nothing but protecting their own, cornering the jade market, and defending the districts under their protection. Ancient tradition has little place in this rapidly changing nation.
When a powerful new drug emerges that lets anyone -- even foreigners -- wield jade, the simmering tension between the Kauls and the rival Ayt family erupts into open violence. The outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones -- from their grandest patriarch to the lowliest motorcycle runner on the streets -- and of Kekon itself.
Jade City is the first novel in an epic trilogy about family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of blood and jade.
I’ve heard a lot about Jade City from my friends over at Read at Midnight and The Quiet Pond, so for #AsianReadathon last month I decided to finally pick it up. I’m all for #ownvoices Asian reads, and this one is no exception – it’s based heavily on kung fu, martial arts and clan wars and I was here for every minute of it.
Set in the metropolitan island of Kekon, jade is a precious stone that offers the wearer special abilities – such as super speed, strength, and perception of other jade users. Jade is a birthright of the Greenbone warriors from two clans – the Mountain clan and the No Peak clan. Through a brewing war of political power and battling over territory between the two, we learn about the Kaul siblings who head up the No Peak clan and how the younger generation have become the successors to the clan.
The world of Jade City is reminiscent of a modern-day city in Asia, such as Hong Kong and Singapore. It’s a book with detailed, rich world building and there’s no getting around it – there is a lot to get your head around. From the origins of jade, to the history of the island of Kekon, the constant political struggles and turf wars of the two clans, foreigners who want to wield jade and the Kaul family tree – we learn about this in-depth Eastern city ruled by a precious stone. However, once you get over this hump of information, you’ll soon start to see a rich, detailed world form and the major players who live within it – especially the fascinating Kaul family.
Lan is the Pillar of the clan, the political leader that makes astute business decisions for No Peak. While he’s certainly gained the trust of Lantern men (local businesses who pay the clan for their protection and support), his slipping control due to the threat of the Mountain clan is beginning to affect his judgement. There’s also Hilo, the Horn of the clan who looks after the warriors of the clan. Gang wars, street fights and blood are in his nature and he often acts on impulse. There’s also their sister Shae, returning from abroad after running off with a foreigner. She refuses the temptation of jade and wants to carve out life herself without her prominent Kaul name attached to it.
But let our enemies know this: No Peak defends and avenges our own. You wrong any one of us, you wrong us all. You seek war with us, and we will return it a hundredfold. No one will take from us what is ours!
There’s so much complexity and tension in the relationship between these three siblings alone, that I wanted to know whether they would work things out and whether they would end up enjoying each other’s company. Of course, running a massive empire isn’t easy, and aside from Shae, they are each assigned roles according to their strengths. Lan is incredibly charismatic, Hilo is tough and fiery, and Shae is measured and intelligent. They each have challenges to overcome and I love learning about their lives.
As the author is a martial artist herself, there’s with no doubt that the action scenes in Jade City would be impressive. With the addition of the jade-enhanced powers, they were fast-paced and exciting.
Filled with rich world building, a complicated family saga and gritty clan wars, Jade City is a unique, fascinating read that I wanted more of. Once you reach the end, you’ll be so far into the dynamics of the Kaul family that you will want more and more. While I found the book hard to get into at the start, it definitely has a high payoff at the end, with twists and turns that you wouldn’t see coming. I’m officially a No Peak clan shipper and I’m super excited for Jade War coming later this year.
Rating: 5 out of 5
Jade City is available from The Book Depository.
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