Sunday, August 6, 2023

Jade Legacy

Fonda Lee
Completed 8/6/2023, Reviewed 8/6/2023
5 stars

I know I’ve said this a lot lately, but wow!  Wow!  This book was terrific.  I’m glad I read the whole trilogy close together.  I was completely invested in the lives of the Kaul family.  Reading this book was like coming back to a warm place, even though it’s about Mafia-like families where the primary conflict is over the magical Jade and who dominates the Jade trade and thus the economy of the island of Kekon.  There’s lots of violence and politicking, but it’s so well-conceived and executed with amazing character development that I couldn’t put it down.  I got through this 700+ page book in just over a week, flying through it in basically over two weekends.  I would have gotten through it sooner if work didn’t get in the way. LOL.  This book won the Canadian Aurora Award and the Locus Fantasy Award for 2022.

This final volume is a sprawling conclusion to the Green Bone Saga trilogy.  Lots of things happen, but the crux of this book is the ultimate confrontation between the No Peak and the Mountain clans.  The Kaul family runs the No Peak clan.  They navigate negative press and pressure from the Mountain clan, trying to survive in the Jade business.  Hilo, the Pillar; Shae, his sister the Weather Man; and Anden, their adoptive cousin work together to expand the No Peak clan’s influence abroad.  But whenever they take one step forward, the Mountain clan pushes them two steps back.  

Needless to say, the world building is amazing.  I was completely immersed in this pseudo-Asian culture and completely bought into the magic and power of Jade.  The prose is also just spectacular, lyrically descriptive without being overbearing.  The character development, well, it goes without saying that I felt a part of the lives of the Kaul family.  All three main characters mature, growing into their roles in the clan as well as in their personal lives.  I felt particularly attached to Anden who is gay and trying to balance his clan responsibilities with finding love in his life.  Similarly, Shae must come to grips with her own passions, allowing herself to love the man she has pined for for a long time.  And Hilo, while still hot-headed, grows into a formidable Pillar.  As for the Mountain clan, their Pillar, Ayt Mada, well, I can’t help picturing the amazing Michelle Yeoh playing her deliciously malevolently if this ever becomes a film or series.  

I know I’ve been pretty vague in this review, throwing nothing but superlatives, I don’t have much else to say about it.  A plot summary would go on forever and give away the drama.  Anything else I could say has already been said in the reviews of the first two books, Jade City and Jade War.  But this book gets five stars out of five because it all came gloriously together.  I’m so glad I read the first book in my World Fantasy Award challenge, otherwise, I may never have experienced this incredible ride.  

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