‘Jade Legacy’ [The Green Bone Saga #3] Book Review – Fonda Lee’s perfect conclusion to this epic trilogy

Fonda Lee’s perfect conclusion to this epic trilogy

When Jade City dropped in 2017, it delivered an audaciously constructed and suitably epic urban fantasy series. It was tense, dripping in prestige and managed to deliver a fantastic story. Jade War released two years later and felt like a player re-assembling the chess pieces back on the board after a blinding first game. Jade Legacy though? Well that second game picks up in a massive way, delivering  a breathless and sweeping saga that catapults it into the annals of fantasy greatness.

It would be very easy to throw around platitudes like masterpiece and perfection, especially as this series does have its fair share of gripes, but if you asked Fonda Lee to conclude this trilogy in a way that tugged at the heartstrings, left a hollow spot in your heart when you finish the final pages, and feature a good number of shocking moments, you’ll be hard-pressed to find a better ending.

In fact, Jade Legacy is not like its predecessors at all. Across the 713 pages, the book opens a few months after the shocking conclusion in Jade War and ends nearly two decades later after numerous time jumps. It’s an incredibly risky strategy to undertake and when you first start reading this, the opening 100 pages or so take some getting used to.

However, once you get past that initial teething period and sink your teeth into what Fonda Lee has cooked up, this is one juicy, mouth-watering story of epic proportions.

I’ll try to keep things as spoiler-free and vague as possible because honestly, the best part of this novel is not knowing which way the story is going to go next – or how many months you’ll be jumping into the future next. But for those unaware, the car bombing and attack on our central characters in Jade War have left the No Peak Clan in pieces.

The Kauls in particular have been battered, and their influence on the global stage is starting to wane. The very essence of the Green Bone way of life is threatened by foreigners and dangerous anti-clan factions, not to mention the growing power of Ayt Mada over at the Mountain Clan, whom we know isn’t afraid to strike deals with the worst kind of people just to see No Peak torn to shreds.

As the book progresses, we not only see our central characters grow, evolve and diversify in interesting and unexpected ways, we also see the next generation of kids rising to power – or falling drastically into ruin. In fact, Legacy is an incredibly apt title for this book, chronicling the ultimate fate of the clans and the world at large.

One could argue that the time jumps breed a few heavy exposition dumps but honestly, given a lot of this material revolves around political alliances, squabbles or backroom deals, it’s actually a pretty wise and ingenious move to skip these parts while keeping the plot moving at a decent pace.

What’s particularly impressive here is something that George R.R. Martin also manages in A Storm of Swords. That element of unpredictability is at an all-time high and Fonda Lee has a wicked way of lulling you into a false sense of security before suddenly blasting an unexpected plot twist or shocking revelation our way.

An innocent car ride can easily turn into an all-out bloodbath leaving several dead and our characters fighting for their life; an innocent meeting can suddenly erupt into absolute carnage; and all the while you’ll find yourself wondering if characters are even going to make it to the next chapter.

This is something many books manage to fail at, and although there is some plot armour here, it’s actually explained and even outright referenced a few times. The prose is beautifully written though, and the dialogue is excellent all round.

All of our main ensemble grow an evolve across the course of this book, more so than ever before. Hilo’s character development is an absolute joy to watch, while Anden, Shae and Ayt Mada all have satisfying conclusions to their arcs.

The brand new characters introduced here (the growing kids of the Kaul dynasty in particular) all have great chemistry and endearing arcs. You really get a feel for that parental strife between Hilo and his kids, but similarly with Shae and her daughter too. While some could point fingers at characters like Jaya, who feel a bit one-note, that’s honestly a minor quibble in what’s otherwise a very impressive book when it comes to character development.

I used the word audacious earlier and Jade Legacy really lives and breathes that word. The worldbuilding here is breathtakingly good, spreading out the political and societal influence in a way that makes everything feel more alive than ever before.

And that’s ultimately the biggest compliment one can give Fonda Lee’s Green Bones Saga. All the characters feel like living, breathing humans, bucking away from conventional fantasy stereotypes. The fights are brutal and the story is as unpredictable as it is moreish. I dare anyone to finish this and not feel a profound sense of loss at the tale ending. Farewell Green Bone Saga, you will be missed!

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  • Verdict - 10/10

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