I received an advanced review copy of Jade Legacy in exchange for an honest review. Thank you to Fonda Lee and Orbit Books.
I have spent the last month residing in Lee’s spectacularly detailed and wonderfully crafted fantasy world. I’m certain that re-reading Jade City and Jade War prior to starting the mammoth-sized yet never dull Jade Legacy heightened my enjoyment of this entry greatly. In Jade Legacy, Lee has perfectly honed her fantasy and gangster thriller experience with more drama, bloodshed, showdowns, political intrigue, and higher costs. By the end of this novel, we’ve been following some of these characters for almost thirty years, twenty or so of which happen throughout The Green Bone Saga’s final entry.
The world-building and the magic system (Jade powers) are some of modern fantasy’s finest but it’s Lee’s characters, their dialogues and interactions, and the sublime character development that makes this series such an addictive and memorable read. Favourites include the obvious such as Hilo and Shae but I empathised with Anden’s journey the most. During this novel, he’s of a similar age to me and has gone through disappointment and alienation, to what comes next and finding his own way, place and identity in the world. Although only young children at the end of Jade War, Niko and Ru headline the next generation of characters and have excellent standout moments as they age and mature. Even Bero, who’s always been my least favourite of the point of view perspectives, I found that I had time for and sympathy towards as he rode the highs and lows of luck, presenting the gutter-eye view of events.
Lee has excelled throughout Jade Legacy, solidifying herself as an excellent writer and masterful storyteller. I cried during my lunch break because of a character’s death and had the metaphorical rug pulled out from under my feet on another occasion with a shocking twist of fate that brought to mind The Mountain vs. The Red Viper for the absolute unpredictability of the turn of events. The author takes us through a rollercoaster of emotions. I should have expected this though when a skilled wordsmith presents us almost thirty years of these characters’ lives, creating close affinity, even with players who used to be detested and villainous. There are a lot of changes to the people around the key family, which is akin to reality as it progresses. Work friends change, relationships change or develop, political views and business aspirations may change, there are struggles and sorrows, yet family remains. I believe that is a major theme at the core of this series: love and loyalty, especially to family.
As previously mentioned, I re-read the previous two novels before Jade Legacy as I wanted all the intricacies and details at the forefront of my mind to really appreciate what is presented here. Jade Legacy has as much action and drama as the previous two books combined. I will admit though that at around the 50%-70% mark, I did question where Lee was going with a couple of seemingly peculiar side storylines. The same thing happened as what always seems to when I doubt an author of this class, they all wrapped up in fine fashion and had definite crucial purposes. It took me about a week to finish the final five brilliant chapters as I really didn’t want the Saga to end and was savouring it in my own way. I’ll repeat again that Lee is a fantastic writer and The Green Bone Saga has cemented itself in the top five series that I will recommend when people ask me for the best that I think the fantasy scene has to offer.