JADE WAR

A strong, thoughtful, and fast-paced follow-up that bodes well for future volumes.

In the second installment of a political fantasy thriller series where “bioenergetic jade” provides magical energy, the conflict of two warlord/organized crime clans has global implications.

In the Hong Kong-like city of Janloon, the Mountain and No Peak clans have announced a public truce while each secretly tries to undermine the other for control of the city and their nation of Kekon, the only source of the jade. As jade smugglers both inside and outside the country threaten the clans’ mutual control over the mineral, political tensions rise between the neighboring nations of Espenia and Ygutan over a rebellion in Shotar, which leads both to seek more jade for their armies. Meanwhile, Hilo, the former Horn (chief enforcer) of the No Peak clan, struggles to master the tactics he needs to fill his late brother’s role as Pillar (clan leader). His sister, Shae, the clan’s Weather Man (chief advisor), has that tactical knowledge but lacks the clan’s complete trust; she’s also trying to juggle her clan responsibilities and her personal life, which includes a quiet romance with a nonclan professor. At the same time, their adopted brother, Anden, embarks on a new, jade-free life in Espenia but still manages to find trouble there, and Hilo’s jade-immune wife, Wen, secretly supports the clan through her own work as a spy. If they are to prevail against the ruthless Ayt Mada, Pillar of the Mountain clan, and the various other domestic and foreign threats, terrible sacrifices will be required, made willingly or not. The first installment, Jade City (2017), leaned rather heavily, albeit effectively, on some tropes and plot points from The Godfather, and it’s pleasing to see that the author has chosen a more independent path this time around. If there’s any thematic link between this book and Godfather II, it’s a common understanding that the outside world has a way of crashing into isolated communities and forcing them to adapt, so it’s best to be on the offensive, as well as a rueful acknowledgment that despite that understanding, relationships with those outside the community might not end well.

A strong, thoughtful, and fast-paced follow-up that bodes well for future volumes.

Pub Date: July 23, 2019

ISBN: 978-0-316-44092-9

Page Count: 608

Publisher: Orbit

Review Posted Online: June 30, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: July 15, 2019

Categories:

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 59


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

THE PRIORY OF THE ORANGE TREE

A celebration of fantasy that melds modern ideology with classic tropes. More of these dragons, please.

Awards & Accolades

Likes

  • Readers Vote
  • 59


Our Verdict

  • Our Verdict
  • GET IT


  • New York Times Bestseller

After 1,000 years of peace, whispers that “the Nameless One will return” ignite the spark that sets the world order aflame.

No, the Nameless One is not a new nickname for Voldemort. Here, evil takes the shape of fire-breathing dragons—beasts that feed off chaos and imbalance—set on destroying humankind. The leader of these creatures, the Nameless One, has been trapped in the Abyss for ages after having been severely wounded by the sword Ascalon wielded by Galian Berethnet. These events brought about the current order: Virtudom, the kingdom set up by Berethnet, is a pious society that considers all dragons evil. In the East, dragons are worshiped as gods—but not the fire-breathing type. These dragons channel the power of water and are said to be born of stars. They forge a connection with humans by taking riders. In the South, an entirely different way of thinking exists. There, a society of female mages called the Priory worships the Mother. They don’t believe that the Berethnet line, continued by generations of queens, is the sacred key to keeping the Nameless One at bay. This means he could return—and soon. “Do you not see? It is a cycle.” The one thing uniting all corners of the world is fear. Representatives of each belief system—Queen Sabran the Ninth of Virtudom, hopeful dragon rider Tané of the East, and Ead Duryan, mage of the Priory from the South—are linked by the common goal of keeping the Nameless One trapped at any cost. This world of female warriors and leaders feels natural, and while there is a “chosen one” aspect to the tale, it’s far from the main point. Shannon’s depth of imagination and worldbuilding are impressive, as this 800-pager is filled not only with legend, but also with satisfying twists that turn legend on its head. Shannon isn’t new to this game of complex storytelling. Her Bone Season novels (The Song Rising, 2017, etc.) navigate a multilayered society of clairvoyants. Here, Shannon chooses a more traditional view of magic, where light fights against dark, earth against sky, and fire against water. Through these classic pairings, an entirely fresh and addicting tale is born. Shannon may favor detailed explication over keeping a steady pace, but the epic converging of plotlines at the end is enough to forgive.

A celebration of fantasy that melds modern ideology with classic tropes. More of these dragons, please.

Pub Date: Feb. 26, 2019

ISBN: 978-1-63557-029-8

Page Count: 848

Publisher: Bloomsbury

Review Posted Online: Dec. 22, 2018

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Jan. 15, 2019

THE HOUSE IN THE CERULEAN SEA

A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

A tightly wound caseworker is pushed out of his comfort zone when he’s sent to observe a remote orphanage for magical children.

Linus Baker loves rules, which makes him perfectly suited for his job as a midlevel bureaucrat working for the Department in Charge of Magical Youth, where he investigates orphanages for children who can do things like make objects float, who have tails or feathers, and even those who are young witches. Linus clings to the notion that his job is about saving children from cruel or dangerous homes, but really he’s a cog in a government machine that treats magical children as second-class citizens. When Extremely Upper Management sends for Linus, he learns that his next assignment is a mission to an island orphanage for especially dangerous kids. He is to stay on the island for a month and write reports for Extremely Upper Management, which warns him to be especially meticulous in his observations. When he reaches the island, he meets extraordinary kids like Talia the gnome, Theodore the wyvern, and Chauncey, an amorphous blob whose parentage is unknown. The proprietor of the orphanage is a strange but charming man named Arthur, who makes it clear to Linus that he will do anything in his power to give his charges a loving home on the island. As Linus spends more time with Arthur and the kids, he starts to question a world that would shun them for being different, and he even develops romantic feelings for Arthur. Lambda Literary Award–winning author Klune (The Art of Breathing, 2019, etc.) has a knack for creating endearing characters, and readers will grow to love Arthur and the orphans alongside Linus. Linus himself is a lovable protagonist despite his prickliness, and Klune aptly handles his evolving feelings and morals. The prose is a touch wooden in places, but fans of quirky fantasy will eat it up.

A breezy and fun contemporary fantasy.

Pub Date: March 17, 2020

ISBN: 978-1-250-21728-8

Page Count: 352

Publisher: Tor

Review Posted Online: Nov. 10, 2019

Kirkus Reviews Issue: Dec. 1, 2019

Close Quickview