Crime families, clan honor, martial arts and magic...all meshed together in an otherworld, semi-modern wuxia fantasy. What’s not to love about this?
Fonda Lee layers Janloon, otherwise known as Jade City, with the nostalgia of an imagined post-world war island colony, complete with epic legends, a believable caste system, and well-defined traditions. The setting, in all its rich and wonderful detail, is exciting and refreshing. The slow-burning political intrigue, coupled with the promise of the mob war and violence to come, that surround the No Peak clan keep the pages turning as the reader is pulled inexorably toward the showdown between the Kaul and Ayt families.
The stakes are high, having world-wide implications beyond the island of Kekon, and the characters are dynamic, flawed and believable. While there are sacrifices and death, the world isn’t dark, with plenty of hope for the future, and it is a pleasure watching Kekon society teeter on the cusp of becoming something more, something greater, if the Kauls win, versus something more sinister and ruthless if the Ayt family wins.
So, who will love this book? Everyone but the most diehard, epic fantasy fans stuck on more traditional storylines. You also have to give this story time to build. The action is not fast-paced until the latter third of the book, although the opening treats the reader to a glimpse of the Green Bone magic before beginning its slow build toward open war. The payoff, however, is worth the reader’s patience, and it’s easy to see why Jade City has been nominated for multiple awards. All-in-all Jade City is a refreshing deviation from pseudo-European fantasy.
Troy Carrol Bucher
Reader, Writer, Runner in Southwest Oklahoma... recent addition to the DAW family.