What could arguably be considered Canadian author Fonda Lee’s magnum opus, “The Green Bone Saga,” has finally come to an end with its third and final installment, “Jade Legacy.” Released Nov. 30, the novel chronicles nearly 30 years of the trials and tribulations of the Kaul family and No Peak clan, one of two Green Bone clans who control the island of Kekon and its capital city of Janloon. In a world where magical, bioenergetic jade gives warriors of the clans special abilities, greedy foreigners and regular citizens alike lurk in an attempt to procure the power that jade can bestow upon them. The Kauls are put in increasingly perilous positions as the strife between the two clans intensifies, but, as a family, they manage to find their way out of conflict.
“Jade Legacy” is not for the faint of heart, but those willing to keep a box of tissues nearby as they dive into the world that Lee has so meticulously and deftly built will be rewarded handsomely. The novel is a stunning end to a tale of epic proportions, packed with spectacular battle scenes, heartfelt family growth and plenty of painful moments.
For a book of more than 700 pages, “Jade Legacy” is both poignantly moving and incredibly well-paced, with never a dull moment in its entirety. Lee has a knack for inserting dramatic events before any lulls in energy cause the story to take a turn toward monotony. That, in itself, is a feat to be lauded. However, it’s Lee’s immaculate attention to detail that sets “Jade Legacy” apart from other adult fantasy books. Her attention to the economic and political details that govern the Kauls’ world is phenomenal, reflecting the tumultuous nature of the contemporary world and making the struggles Kekon faces all the more real.
Like the preceding books in “The Green Bone Saga,” “Jade Legacy” switches between the point of views of various main characters. Yet, because its narrative spans such a large amount of time, “Jade Legacy” excels in exploring the subtleties of beloved characters and events while introducing readers to new, captivating personas that elevate the novel’s intricate plot.
The most effective and compelling part of “Jade Legacy” is its jumps in chronology. At the start of the novel, the main characters are still youthful and ready to face the world. Then, in a matter of a few chapters, 12 years have passed and the byproducts of aging begin to appear in these characters’ appearances, mannerisms and the social and technological advancements of Kekon and its surrounding countries.
With such an expansive timeline, readers gain insight into the backstory of the Kauls’ decorated past, the complexity of the present narrative and what happens to the No Peak clan as they read on. It is oddly satisfying and simultaneously soul crushing to watch one’s favorite characters grow, age and, inevitably, fade from existence. “Jade Legacy” is steeped in nostalgia, making readers feel as if they have grown alongside the protagonists over the course of the novel — one of the many reasons Lee’s work is bound to stay with readers long after they have finished.
“Jade Legacy” is, without question, one of the foremost novels in modern adult fantasy. It is nothing short of ambitious, electrifying and touching. Described by the author as “ ‘The Godfather’ with magic and kung fu,” “Jade Legacy” properly lives up to this comparison with its tight-knit family dynamics. Perhaps most impressively, Lee crafts nuanced characters whom readers simultaneously adore and despise, but, above all, learn to respect; that is the true magic of her impeccably woven story.
By the time the book ends, it feels like a lifetime has passed, and, in some ways, it has. Lee’s writing is like a portal that transports readers directly into the mystical and treacherous world of the Green Bones. Her affinity for world building and bringing her own interests into her work make for a series that feels deeply personal, as if she is welcoming readers to join a family she has created specifically for them.