Honestly, I don’t think I have read many book that fall into the Urban Fantasy category. Maybe I just never found the appeal of mixing magic with big, concrete jungles or maybe I was just never recommended any or maybe (and this is the most possible of the three options), it got buried underneath the more popular books in my TBR. But rest assured, one of them has managed to claw itself out from under my TBR and I loved every single minute of it.
“Expectations are a funny thing,” Wen said. “When you’re born with them, you resent them, fight against them. When you’ve never been given any, you feel the lack of them your whole life.”
Jade City takes place in Kekon, an island just few decades ago, freed from the oppressive rule of the Shotarians. The island is home to two things- a race of people who can wield Jade to give themselves unimaginable heightened powers of Strength and the jade itself embedded into the very core of the island.
The book is primarily about Jade or rather the question of who controls its supply. Jade wielding warriors, called Green Bones, who fought together in the fight against Shotarians, in the present day are divided into two clans- The Mountain and No Peak. Both clans are trying to control the jade supply on and outside the island.
Kekon’s capital is a bustling city, filled with normal people doing their every day normal things. Under the normalcy of it all, there is an unsuspecting clan war brewing amongst the Green Bones clans. It seems that the days of peace are long past them, and all this fragile world of pseudo peace needs is one more thing to shatter it all.
“Heaven help me, Shae,” he whispered into her ear. “I’m going to kill them all.”
The book centers around the Kaul family consisting of Lan, the Pillar of the Clan, his Brother, Hilo who is the second in command and his Horn and his sister, Shae who abandoned her lineage and went abroad to study and has now returned.
I loved each of their characters. I love the depth Fonda has clearly poured into them, making them as malleable and humane as possible. I loved their intricate dynamics both outside and inside the clan. The two tier respect and behavior they reserved for Lan, one as Pillar demanding unquestionable loyalty, and another as their brother, with whom they joked with and cared for. Even Shae who had left her life and jade behind as a member of the clan and family, but discovers there is only so far a Kaul can run.
Lan’s destiny seemed to be written in the stars when he was passed the mantle from his ailing and quickly declining Grandfather. To whom, he tries so hard to live up to. Lan was probably the gentlest and kindest leader to have ever reigned No Peak. He went out of his way to steer the clan towards peace even when everyone around him, especially the enemies seemed hell bent on anything but that.
“Any old horse will run when it’s whipped, but only fast enough to avoid the whipping,” Hilo said. “Racehorses, though, they run because they look at the horse on their left, they look at the one on their right, and they think, No way am I second to these fuckers.”
I loved Hilo. I loved everything about his reckless boyish charms. His rugged features, how well and deep and unconditionally his love for those he deemed worthy of love and his deep rooted, undying loyalty towards his clan and members, the authority with his he reigns as horn and the soft and heart wrenchingly pure love towards the love of his life. I loved it all. How deep his love ran and the lengths he would go to to protect those he loved. Like a roaring fire, Hilo fought as he lived, alive in the most chaotic way.
“She thought, Two strong-minded women in a man’s world, if they do not quickly become allies, are destined to be incurable rivals.”
Another thing Fonda has done masterfully, is the female characters. They were raw, real and relatable. Whether it was Shae, a badass in her own right, Wen, who was limited in so many ways but didn’t let any of it deter her, or Ayt, the villain of this series. Each character was fleshed out and very real. From Shae’s reluctance to join back into the clan she left behind, to Wen who was limited as a Jade Immune Stone eye and from a disgraced family, to Ayt, who was ruthless but somehow justified in her means to her end. A trio of badass women in an environment where they shouldn’t have prevailed and yet somehow, they were equal to or sometimes even better than the men in the series.
“Screw you, Hilo,” she snapped. “I can kill my ex-boyfriends myself.”
I loved them as a family. As dysfunctional as most families, they came together when they were needed most. Hilo, who had resented his sister for abandoning them and running away with her lover and Shae, who never felt connected to the symbolic clan and all that would cost her. But blood does run thicker than water and when they needed to step, boy, do they step up.
And last, but definitely not least in any way, Anden Emery, a mixed blooded boy who the Kaul’s adopted. A cousin, not by blood but by bond to Lan, Hilo and Shae. Despite his tragic past, he is determined to live up to the Kaul’s name and this book is about his palpable trials and tribulations as its about the illegal Jade trade that leaks into the customary lives of Kekon’s clans.
Also, a special mention for not just the political side of this book but the business side. As a business and finance major, I can fully appreciate a well written finance references. You will be surprised how many times people screw it up.
All in all this book was a roller coaster ride. It was tense, and some parts had me screaming and some just made me want to puke. But at the end of the day, it was a good book with great characters, a good motive, clever characters that made sensible decisions and an overall good book. A mobster book with a fantasy element twisted in.