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Jade City (2017) 4 stars

Jade City is a 2017 fantasy novel by Fonda Lee. It won the World Fantasy …

The mobster-wuxia hybrid I never knew I needed (spoilers)

5 stars

I'm not usually all that excited about either really martial fantasy or mob stories, because both tend to rely on either very flatly good/evil dichotomies, or just telling the reader that one set of characters are the good ones and should be sympathised with.

At first, this book felt like it was going down that road, since our introduction to some of the core characters is them dispensing a lot of violence for profit, against some thieves who I found myself sympathising with. But by about 1/4 of the way I was getting reeled in by the Kauls' charm even as I was never convinced by their goodness. I think that ambiguity is one of the great strengths of Lee's writing. She could so easily have brought the world another set of Atreides/Skywalkers/Gandalf-and-the-hobbits, and instead we got some much more interesting, real and complex characters fighting a much smaller war. …