- Author: Fonda Lee
- Genre: Fantasy
- Publication Date: November 30, 2021
- Publisher: Orbit
- Series: The Green Bone Saga #3
Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC of this book. I am offering my honest opinion voluntarily.
CONTENT WARNING: violence, murder, blood, mention of miscarriage, gun violence, gore, prejudice, mention of rape, suicide, death of a child, torture
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 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.
I read this book (and actually the entire series) as a buddy read with the illustrious Becky @ Becky’s Book Blog, and she has turned into my favorite person to buddy read with. I’m so glad that she was able to buddy read this with me, because if I didn’t have her, I might have internally combusted while reading this book — my emotions were all over the place with this rollercoaster of a book. Pardon me while I try to collect myself enough to write a coherent review here.
While Fonda Lee has many strengths as an author, one of the biggest ones, and my personal favorite, is the way she has managed to create such a realistic series in a fantasy setting. The characters are so realistic that after reading nearly 30 years of their ups and downs, they feel like family, so everything that happened felt incredibly personal. I loved getting to see the characters grow so much, especially some of my favorites! Both Becky and I spent so much time talking about the way that both Hilo and Anden showed immense growth over the course of the books, with Hilo really growing into his role as father and Pillar of the clan, and Anden learning how to reconcile all the different parts of himself that caused a lot of issues when he was younger — being biracial, being queer, and his choice not to become a Green Bone warrior as he was always expected to. I was most blown away by his character arc, and seeing how the path he chose still ended up contributing immensely to the clan anyway, even though he went a completely different route.
Don’t think that Lee forgot to show strong women in her story, either. There’s no shortage of feminism throughout the story — females break the glass ceiling regularly in her books, and this one is no exception. While I have some strong feelings about Ayt Madashi, there’s no question that she is a strong women who has held the most powerful role in the Mountain clan for an extremely long time. She’s the Pillar and maintains that position with an iron grip and by not shying away from whatever she has to do to keep it. On the other side, we’ve got Shae, who is the Weather Man of the No Peak clan, and keeps her position in a completely different way. She’s a bit more modern and works cooperatively with her family for the benefit of the clan, always thinking of how her actions can better serve the clan, both now and far into the future. She’s further supported by Wen, Hilo’s wife who happens to be nonreactive to jade, also known as a stone-eye. But that doesn’t stop Wen from devoting her life to the clan as well, and doing everything she can to help No Peak and the Kaul family. I love these two women, and I think they demonstrate that women can be just as green as men, even if they don’t wear jade. There’s a term that’s thrown around in the series — green in the soul, and both Shae and Wen are the epitome of this phrase.
We get to see the future generation of the Green Bone clans, although our perspective is heavily biased towards the inner workings of the No Peak clan. I loved seeing how the newer generation is so different from the older ones, and how differently the kids turned out from their parents, no matter how they were raised. Every single character in the story is well-developed and realistic.
The world-building is incredible. It’s fantastic and well-created and feels so real that I want to book a vacation to Kekon. We get to see so much more of the world, even beyond what we’ve seen in other books. Since the political climate shifts dramatically throughout the story, the setting expands beyond the borders of Kekon and even Espenia. The story shifts into more of Espenia and even into other parts of the world that we haven’t seen much of. I’m consistently amazed at how beautifully the world works, often imitating how things work in our world, with politics, corruption, imperialism, greed, and religion influencing world politics and war.
As always, the story is fast paced. I didn’t even realize how long the story was, flying through chapters yet still wishing it wasn’t over as soon as it was. I’m honestly hoping for more of this world. There were so many twists and turns that I never saw coming, and as you can tell from the gasp factor, I was always on the edge of my seat. At one point, I gasped so loud it startled my dog awake and caused her to bark furiously. The fight scenes are written so well, and it’s exciting and clearly written by someone who has a strong background in martial arts. It was a really emotional read, since I was so invested in the story, the world, and the characters, and I cried more than a few times while reading the book. But overall, I loved how it wrapped up in the end. This series has earned a special place in my heart, and is one of my favorite series ever, not just in fantasy. I’m absolutely going to be recommending this to everyone I know.
People who have sat around with me while I’m reading, especially when there’s a surprising reveal, a shocking plot twist, or an unexpected event often look up in alarm when I gasp audibly. The gasp factor is directly related to the number of times I audibly gasp during a reading, and there isn’t an upper limit.
Gasp Factor: 24
Categories: Book Review