Hello everyone! I have a very special post today in collaboration with Lia @AnOdeToFiction to celebrate the release of Jade Legacy in two days! The green bone saga is one of both of our’s favoruite fantasy series and we knew we had to do something special to mark the occasion so here are book recommendations for you all based on characters from the green bone saga!
By Fonda Lee
Age Group: Adult
Trigger Warnings: violence, death, drug use, drug overdose, mentions of sexual assault, mention of suicide, and self-harm
JADE CITY is a gripping Godfather-esque saga of intergenerational blood feuds, vicious politics, magic, and kungfu.
The Kaul family is one of two crime syndicates that control the island of Kekon. It’s the only place in the world that produces rare magical jade, which grants those with the right training and heritage superhuman abilities.
The Green Bone clans of honorable jade-wearing warriors once protected the island from foreign invasion–but nowadays, in a bustling post-war metropolis full of fast cars and foreign money, Green Bone families like the Kauls are primarily involved in commerce, construction, and the everyday upkeep of the districts under their protection.
When the simmering tension between the Kauls and their greatest rivals erupts into open violence in the streets, the outcome of this clan war will determine the fate of all Green Bones and the future of Kekon itself.
Kaul Lanshinwan, Pillar of No Peak, is the first son of Kaul Du and eldest of Kaul siblings. The elder brother and heir that is weighed by expectations of his predecessors. A son that works hard to earn his name, establish his position, and is eager to do the right thing; all the while trying to earn his grandfather’s, Kaul Sen, approval. Thinking about Lan, he is a character that has the drive to do better and be better in his position to continue the family legacy. Being put in such a difficult position of mounting pressure he is challenged repeatedly in his decision making by Kaul Sen. Finding the parallel to Lan took some time for both of us but we found the suitable match in Lin from The Bone Shard Daughter by Andrea Stewart. Why did we pick this book?
Lin is the Emperor’s only daughter and heir of the Phoenix Empire. Throughout the book she is trying to win her father’s favour and get him to approve of her as his heir. Similarly, Kaul Lan is the Pillar to the No Peak clan with big shoes to fill left by his grandfather, Kaul Sen—the Torch of Kekon, who is constantly judging all of his actions as Pillar. Their family dynasty’s legacy rides on their shoulders and they are under immense pressure to be the perfect heir. Their loneliness of being an heir is a kin to one another. Lan has his siblings and family that relies on him to lead them into glory. While Lin has an entire Empire’s well being and lives of countless people at stake. They both want to do the right thing and be better for the sake of not just them but also for everyone. They are both leaders in whom everyone around them have placed their trust and they are constantly trying to earn the position they’ve been placed in. Their presence as a character truly reverberates and could not be missed as they are the core in each of their worlds.
Kaul Hiloshudon, Horn of No Peak, is the second son of Kaul Du and brother to Lan and Shae. He is the ruthless Horn that is fearless and loves as passionately as he fights. We meet Hilo in Jade City as a young, abrasive and aggressive newly appointed Horn trying to prove himself. Having great fighting skills and being a great leader in battle, he soon proves himself to be great at the job. To find the right parallel to Hilo’s impulsive personality we both picked a book that has a character that went through something similar as Hilo. We thinked about it long and hard, in the end, our pick is Fang Runin from The Poppy War by R. F. Kuang.
The events in Jade City propelled Hilo’s character arc just like Rin’s arc in The Poppy War. They’re both impulsive in their decision making, mostly guided by their emotion and using brute force to achieve their goals. Even though Hilo is older and more experienced than Rin, we want to emphasize that they are the example of a complex and layered morally grey character that you love to hate. Both are characters that you can look forward to seeing develop because they can go either way. Either developing into a hero, an antagonist, an anti-hero, or all of the above. They each have their own unhinged and violent destructive moments in which they act before thinking about the consequences. Seeing their reasoning behind their actions, you can understand it even when you don’t approve of what they’re doing. Guided by impulse and emotion, they both are anchored by someone to keep them grounded and aren’t afraid to challenge them.
Kaul Shaelinsan, Weatherman and youngest of the Kaul siblings. Shae is the calculative, brilliant, and leading strategist in all things business related in No Peak. Being the weatherman, Shae is challenged to expand No Peak’s influence and business. She is a woman that grows and learns with her position. Before filling the position of Weatherman, Shae is a character that was eager to separate herself from clan life in order to find her purpose and name by herself. Choosing a normal life over being a greenbone is part of Shae’s character arc. A character that is reluctant to fill in the role that is expected of her and is questioning her involvement in a life that she thought didn’t deserve. For Shae, we see a part of her in Avatar Kyoshi from The Shadow of Kyoshi.
Kyoshi’s origin before she was discovered as the Avatar wasn’t a life of luxury compared to Shae. Being an orphan child, Kyoshi grew up on the streets of a small coastal village constantly having to fight for survival. Fast forward to Kyoshi’s teenage years she still lives in the village but she works as a trusted servant and friend to the current ‘avatar’. The parallels between Shae and Kyoshi is that they are both women that are thrust into a role they didn’t want. However, they don’t back down as they try to embrace the responsibilities they have been given and succeed at their respective jobs. They’re stuck in an important role that invites a lot of scrutiny regarding their legitimacy and capability to do their duties. Though they were reluctant and insecure about the position they’ve been put in, when a situation arises they aren’t afraid to do what needs to be done. They are strong, brave, and remarkable fighters that can surely put up a good fight.
Emery Anden is the Kaul’s adopted sibling and youngest member of the family. As a part of the future generation of green bones in No Peak, there is a lot riding on Anden’s shoulders to become one from his friends, his family, and himself. The major decision he made during the end of Jade City shows his complexity as character to diverge from the expected path that is opened for him. Anden’s development is especially monumental in his character arc as Fonda Lee weaves the challenges of living in a different country away from family. When we looked into fantasy we couldn’t find a book that fit Anden’s character so we looked to other genres. The book that we decided to pick based on Jayati’s suggestion is Darius The Great is Not Okay by Adib Khorram.
Anden and Darius both grow so much through the books and in doing so, learn to be true to themselves and who they are. At the end of the first book, Anden is exiled from Janloon and goes to live in Espenia. Similarly, Darius goes to Iran in Darius The Great is Not Okay. They are both troubled and alone in the new, foreign countries where they know no one and don’t fit in. However as they spend more time there, they find some comfort and companionship. Anden was always expected to live up to being a part of the Kaul family in Janloon but away from home, he is allowed to be himself. Darius also finds his first true friend in Iran who doesn’t judge him and with whom he can finally share who he is. Their journeys are hard and involve a lot of struggle in accepting who they are and trying to be who they aspire to be. Far from home they are finally able to lessen some of the weight of all the expectations laid upon them and grow into who they are on the inside and find paths that are right for them.
Kaul Maik Wen, the future wife of Kaul Hiloshudon and sister to Hilo’s most trusted Fists, Maik Tar and Maik Kehn. An ambitious and loyal supporter of No Peak that showed her unbending will to be involved in clan business proving that you don’t need to wield jade to be green. Although Wen is a stone-eye she doesn’t let that stop her, in fact she overcomes the ‘cursed’ label by taking advantage of said ‘cursed’ gene to do certain things. Wen’s character arc is fully explored and can be seen strongest in Jade War. Being the future wife of Kaul Hiloshudon she assumes the motherly role that is close to the No Peak inner circle of leaders. But Wen doesn’t only play housewife, she shows her strengths through doing risky and sometimes dangerous things within her abilities to help No Peak. When thinking about Wen, of course, the obvious choice for the book that also has strong themes of empowerment is The Sword Kaigen by M. L. Wang.
Wen and Misaki are mirrors of each other in so many ways. They’re both women who have specific roles to play and have to hide other parts of themselves to do so. They’re smart and resourceful and offer help in whatever way they can although they are often unappreciated for all they do. They refuse to accept the narrow constructs in which society tries to out them and tell them to be, instead finding their own paths and playing a role in changing the world. They embrace who they are and what limitations they have and use it to their advantage. They may not seem like conventionally ambitious or strong characters but they have people they care about and will do what it takes to help them and make sure they are okay.
Ayt Madashi is Pillar of the Mountain Clan and the main antagonist in the series. Ayt Mada’s rise to power is an infamous story that leaves a trail of blood in her wake as she assumes the position of Pillar. It is a known secret that Ayt Mada isn’t shy to whisper names of the people that stand in her way to greatness including her own family. She is smart, cunning and vicious in leading the Mountain Clan against their rival clan No Peak. Being a former Weatherman herself Ayt Mada is always one step ahead of everyone frustrating the young leaders of No Peak out maneuvering them at every turn. Her ears are as close to the ground as any Horn, she can read the clouds like a veteran Weatherman, and she is an influential well respected leader that can move mountains as Pillar. Ayt Mada’s power isn’t limited to politics but also in combat, as is proved in the Jade War that Ayt is a ruthless cold blooded fighter. The epitome of a literal nightmare for the Kauls. Finding a character from a different book that can stand toe to toe with Ayt Mada is an experience. There are only a couple of characters (that we thought of) that can stand next to Ayt Madashi and not flinch – those characters are Zhu Chongba and General Ouyang from She Who Became the Sun by Shelley Parker Chan.
Zhu Chongba is the warrior monk that rose to power with her cunningness, unbending will, and unparalleled determination to become the Emperor. The parallel of Zhu Chongba is General Ouyang, an eunuch General from the opposite side of the war that is on the same wavelength as Zhu but ruthless, much more spiteful, and bitter at everything he has had to suffer. These two characters share the same ambition as Ayt Madashi carving their own paths to achieve their goals no matter the cost. Zhu, much like Ayt, is cunning and quick witted, making the most out of any situation turning it to their advantage by coming up with innovative solutions. Ouyang, on the other hand, has the same patience and strategic brutality as Ayt, similar to a tiger that is watching its prey.
These characters rose to power even when everyone and everything seemed to be working against them, doing what they needed to – through manipulating and betraying others, through merciless brutality, and unforgiving hatred to achieve what they wanted. They all pursue their goals with single minded unbending determination and will cut down anything that stands in their way.
Bero is a teenager that is hungry for power in a world that has glorified the Green Bone culture. Seeing himself as the bottom feeder of the Kekonese society in Janloon, he wants a taste of jade, the highly coveted source of power, by involving himself in shady business. And having his fair share brush with death that, at this point, it is an understatement to consider him as blessed. As soon as we are introduced to him, we can see his greed and desire to get jade for himself and be powerful. He is unsatisfied with what he has and is ready to risk it all to get what he wants, often putting himself in the danger of being killed. Despicable as he is, he is ready to betray anyone and sell out to survive himself. He is the epitome of a cockroach surviving a nuclear bomb when all odds are stacked against him. As much as we love to hate Bero it was quite hard to find a book with a character that has the same level of resilience Bero has. After a bit of thinking, we found many similarities between him and Wu Zetian from Iron Widow.
Wu Zetian is a peasant girl that has been sent by her family to be the concubine for a pilot that allegedly caused the death of her sister and possibly many other women. Filled with blood thirsty vengeance and anger towards the society that views women as disposable, Wu Zetian takes it upon herself to get revenge for her sister and show them what a real nightmare is. Both these characters are faced with impossible odds and see power as a source of their salvation. All their lives they have hated society and those in power for telling them they are small and inconsequential and their lives will amount to nothing. They are very familiar with the cruelty of the world and it has hardened them. Their resilience and will to live is their essence as a character. They’re both dedicated to alter the world and change the current position of how things are by overthrowing those in power currently and they will not stop until they achieve it. They have been underestimated and overlooked their whole lives but they are resolved to make an impact no matter how dangerous it may be for them to do so.
Hi! I’m Lia from Indonesia, a certified dweller of worlds within the pages of books. I run the blog An Ode to Fiction where I read and review anything that is SciFi Fantasy!
Have you read the green bone saga yet? Do you agree with the books we recommended for each character and our reasons for doing so? Let us know in the comments below!