The Jade Setter of Janloon by Fonda Lee
Series: The Green Bone Saga #0.5
Expected publication: April 2022 by Subterranean Press
Age Range: Adult
Genre: Urban Fantasy
The rapidly changing city of Janloon is ruled by jade, the rare and ancient substance that enhances the abilities and status of the trained Green Bone warriors who run the island’s powerful clans.
Pulo Oritono is not one of those warriors. He’s simply an apprentice jade setter with dreams of securing clan patronage and establishing a successful business. His hopes are dashed, however, when a priceless jade weapon is stolen from the shop where he works.
Now, Pulo has three days to hunt down the thief, find the jade, and return it to its rightful owner if he wants to save his future prospects, the people he cares about, and his very life. The desperate mission will lead Pulo to old vendettas, vast corruption, and questions about everything and everyone he thought he knew.
Thank you to NetGalley for providing me with an ARC in exchange for an honest review. Do note that this review might contain spoilers for the trilogy.
Following the perspective of a jade setter’s apprentice, The Jade Setter of Janloon illustrates a life of an average citizen without any consequences of clan politics. This novella takes place two years before Jade City when the No Peak clan has a newly-minted Pillar, Kaul Lan and a soon-to-be Horn, Kaul Hilo. I missed them. Hilo in this novella is vastly different from the Hilo I read about in Jade Legacy. What a bittersweet experience. The Kaul family will always have a place in my heart, but this story isn’t about them.
“You have all the skills to follow in my footsteps if you choose. But a jade setter’s life is dedicated to uncelebrated work that might be undone. Everyday, we give ourselves to the craft of setting jade that will give power to others. They do with it what they will, and we keep none of it for ourselves. That’s our place. Do you want that?”
Part of the Haedo Shield clan, Pulo is brought up on neutral grounds. The clan itself is governed by a council rather than having a traditional hierarchical structure like in the Mountain clan or the No Peak clan. Under reactive to jade, Pulo doesn’t meet the standards to become the clan’s Shieldbearer and instead, apprenticed to be a jade setter.
When Isin’s shop was burgled, a young Abukei woman is taken as a scapegoat, it’s a race against time for Pulo to find out where the weapon of a certain Pillar went.
“I’m only a humble jade setter, but I’m content with the last thing I was able to fix.”
Even within such a short book, Fonda Lee managed to captivate my attention and focus on Pulo’s story. His inert jade abilities meant that he could never be a warrior Green Bone, but Pulo was never too hung up about that. While he didn’t truly understand Isin’s insistence of staying on neutral grounds, Pulo did by the end of The Jade Setter of Janloon.
I liked that the novella surrounded an average citizen’s life rather than focusing on a prominent Green Bone family, as much as I want more of the Kauls, Pulo’s story was interesting in itself. As always, Fonda Lee is an amazing writer.