Jade City

Score: 7 / 10

Jade City is an excellent urban fantasy romp, featuring intrigue, politics, violence, and revenge. It’s extremely well-written: the prose and pacing are both tight and leave you wanting more. And the characters are entertaining while still being nuanced and flawed.

As a sucker for world-building, I love the exposition dumps about politics, foreign relations, and culture. They make the world feel systems-driven (like the real world) rather than purely character-driven (like many fantasy books). It’s fun to watch the characters get buffeted around/constrained by these systems and to try to predict how they’ll react.

There are two things about the book I didn’t like. First, the descriptions of the physical world feel a bit flat. Don’t get me wrong, the writing style is clear and visual, but it doesn’t really paint a vivid picture. Janloon comes across as a generic city and because of that I often find myself substituting images of real-world places in my head. Second, there are certain parts of the story that don’t make sense to me. They aren’t sufficiently setup with typical storytelling mechanisms, so they feel somewhat sudden and unearned.

Overall though, a great read that I’d recommend to anyone interested in urban high fantasy and/or political intrigue.