Jade Legacy (The Green Bone Saga #3) | Review
Rating - ⭐⭐⭐1/2
"Jade, the mysterious and magical substance once exclusive to the Green Bone warriors of Kekon, is now known and coveted throughout the world. Everyone wants access to the supernatural abilities it provides, from traditional forces such as governments, mercenaries, and criminal kingpins, to modern players, including doctors, athletes, and movie studios. As the struggle over the control of jade grows ever larger and more deadly, the Kaul family, and the ancient ways of the Kekonese Green Bones, will never be the same.
The Kauls have been battered by war and tragedy. They are plagued by resentments and old wounds as their adversaries are on the ascent and their country is riven by dangerous factions and foreign interference that could destroy the Green Bone way of life altogether. As a new generation arises, the clan’s growing empire is in danger of coming apart.
The clan must discern allies from enemies, set aside bloody rivalries, and make terrible sacrifices… but even the unbreakable bonds of blood and loyalty may not be enough to ensure the survival of the Green Bone clans and the nation they are sworn to protect."
Jade Legacy is the third and final novel in The Green Bone Saga, an adult fantasy series by Fonda Lee.
I was not expecting to get to this book this quickly, since I was on a waitlist at my library for several more weeks. After recently finishing Jade War, I ended up getting this a couple of days later, and suddenly found myself finishing up this series.
For a book that was over 700 pages though, I got through this a lot faster than I expected to, but a lot of the reasons why I struggled a bit with the previous books also apply to this one. It is just as dense and is filled with more politics than action. Still, though, I can't deny that, while I wished more happened, this was one hell of a conclusion.
Let's get into the details.
I don't have much to say about the writing, since it had been consistent throughout the series; meaning that it is dense and descriptive. It is also slower-paced but, somehow, that doesn't really manage to affect the story.
I very much appreciated, though, the fact that at the beginning of the chapter it gives your a date so you can know how much time has passed. I did have some issues with the amount of sudden and large time skips in the previous books, and while this doesn't entirely rectify it, it sure did help.
I wanted two things from this book: for the plot to be ramped up and for the character to make better decisions. Did I get what I wanted, not really, but at least the author was consistent? That being said though, I still do think that this series needed more action, as not only would it have been a great source of tension, it would have helped break up the dense political descriptions.
Overall, this book, and series as a whole, kept building up conflict and strife over time, moving towards what I thought was going to be an epic showdown of sorts. Part of me was expecting there to be a lot of moments of action, because there is a war going on, and for the tension to be at an all-time high. However, the book remains rather uneventful in that way, with it being more like a game of chess rather than a constant barrage of violence. Sure it has its moments, but they are few and far between.
This can also be seen with the direction the story went in, and how the series wrapped up as well. I obviously can't go into it because of spoilers, but I wanted things to go out with a bang, which didn't really happen. The story remained pretty stable all the way until the end, which was a bit anti-climactic for me. I was left wanting something grander and more epic.
Moving on though, I did briefly talk about time skips in the writing sections, but I wanted to talk more about it here. A lot of time passes by in this book, and since the first book as well. While on the one hand, I do like that this is a drawn-out plot and that not everything could have happened in one shot, a lot is missed between those time skips.
For example, for one, a new character would be introduced as a love interest, but then it would skip past any romantic development. Not only did that just reduce said character into a background character who was not properly fleshed out, but the transition between the introduction and the time skip was abrupt and jarring to me, and it threw me out of the story.
Secondly, the same thing would happen every time something major would happen. You would have this tense moment, and then all of the sudden the author pushed the fast-forward button, and you would be several years in the future. Because of that, you don't really get to see the immediate fallout and lingering effects of what happened.
Now that I have ranted long enough about the weaker aspects of the books, it is time to talk about why I still think this was exceptional (despite my rating). This story felt real and fully actualized. It has all the pieces you need in order to create a story and world that sucks you in. Complex characters, check. An overarching conflict broken down into several smaller ones, check. A clear main goal backed by a unique magic system, check. This story breathed sophistication, and it managed to be new and fresh while following a concept that has been done before.
The characters are, well, same old same old. Looking back at how much has changed since the first book, I can see that Hilo has grown as a person, but he is still the same hot-head he always has been. That is because, yet again, he is not the greatest person ever in this, even to his own family. Anden is, thankfully, not too bad in this along with Niko
Let's talk about Bero, though. He may be a side character, but he sure is a persistent one. This guy, I don't know how, somehow managed to survive everything up until now, and I don't get why. Not only because there is just no way he should have gotten lucky that many times, but I found that his character didn't really amount to much. Sure he had a rippling impact on the major events in the series, such as killing Lan, but I feel like there could have been another way to do that instead of sporadically throwing him into the story when needed.
I still stand by though, that Ayt Mada was the best character. That woman had an iron-clad resolve and was smart enough (and strong enough) to go through life as Pillar without allowing herself to have any weaknesses. In a world like this, full of strife and death, it makes sense to keep to yourself, and not have any mercy. Honestly, I would have loved to get her perspective, considering how she was always a step ahead of the No Peak clan.
She is also the only strong example of a female character who defies their supposed role in society (because only a man is supposed to be a Pillar). The, very few, female characters are a weakness of the plot. The women in this series are kind of seen as lesser than men, and you can see that with Wen and Shae since they are kind of useless in a fight. Now, my issue with them is not necessarily how women are depicted in this, it is how that depiction allows for repeat predictable events.
One thing about this series, that you either like or don't, is that you don't root for the characters (or at least I didn't). Usually, you want for them to push through and make it out okay, but this is a story where no one is the good guy. That doesn't have to be an issue since I do like a good morally grey character, but I didn't particularly like anyone in this, so it did take away from my enjoyment having to read about them.
A pretty solid conclusion for a solid series. Subjectively, while I may not have enjoyed myself as much as everyone else seemed to, I did manage to get myself through this with a good amount of interest. For me, what it came down to was the pacing and denseness of the story and the characters. I wanted more than just political intrigue, and it was difficult to enjoy a book with characters you can't sympathize with.
That being said though, objectively, ignoring my personal feelings, I do think that this is at least a 4.5-star series. I know I sound a bit contradictory here, but I can see why this is so well-loved, because of how well-written and crafted this is. This is ultimately a story about power and family, shown through the strife between clans and other groups as they fight to protect not only themselves but their claim on jade as well.
All-in-all, this is an epic story following the lives of the Kaul family of the No Peak clan as they fight, love, and die. If you are someone who likes mafia-like books or movies or likes books that delve more into the technical side of things, rather than just constant action, then you will most likely enjoy this. Even if you don't, and like myself wanted something more high octane, I would still suggest you give it a shot, because Fonda Lee knows how to make one hell of a story.