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ARC Review: The Jade Setter of Janloon by Fonda Lee

Publication Date: April 30, 2022

Synopsis:

Fonda Lee returns to the world of the Green Bone Saga with a new standalone novella.

The rapidly changing city of Janloon is ruled by jade, the rare and ancient substance that enhances the abilities and status of the trained Green Bone warriors who run the island’s powerful clans.

Pulo Oritono is not one of those warriors. He’s simply an apprentice jade setter with dreams of securing clan patronage and establishing a successful business. His hopes are dashed, however, when a priceless jade weapon is stolen from the shop where he works.

Now, Pulo has three days to hunt down the thief, find the jade, and return it to its rightful owner if he wants to save his future prospects, the people he cares about, and his very life. The desperate mission will lead Pulo to old vendettas, vast corruption, and questions about everything and everyone he thought he knew.

My Review:

Rating: 5 out of 5.

This was intense. I hadn’t read the Green Bone Saga prior to reading this, so I wasn’t entirely sure what I’d be getting into, and for the first quarter or so I was overwhelmed by it all. This is a very complex world with many moving pieces and political factions and social hierarchy and magic rules that are really only touched on in this story. There is enough information that I was never completely lost, but I’m sure I would have gotten a lot more out of it had I read the Green Bone Saga first.

Even so, I was completely enthralled and engrossed and was surprised at 1) the amount of plot in this novella (there were SO MANY twists and turns and reveals) and 2) how attached to the characters I became. Pulo and Malla and Isin were sympathetic from the start which was really quite a feat, considering Malla spends most of the story in the back room and in a jail cell and Isin doesn’t say a whole lot and keeps to himself. Pulo is the entry point to the story and carries the weight of making them sympathetic, and it works so well. He starts out frustrated with them and not really understanding them, and as the story progresses and he comes to sympathize with them and understand them, so do we as readers. It was really quite skillfully done.

I was also impressed with how every side character is complex and well-rounded, and how the initial impressions we get of them aren’t always accurate. There were definitely some I didn’t like, but I felt like I knew so much about each of them, even when their page time was very small. I would happily read more about most of them.

I am definitely eager to read more by Fonda Lee and am already hooked on the complex world. I think the Green Bone Saga is probably in my future.

*Thanks to NetGalley and Subterranean Press for providing an e-arc for review.

Favorite Quotes:

Bright lights distracted from darkness, while money and success flowed through the gutters toward the cunning and the ruthless. Jade was not the only thing that was gained at the expense of lives.

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