Jade War

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By Fonda Lee

Read by Andrew Kishino

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In Jade War, the sequel to the World Fantasy Award-winning novel Jade City, the Kaul siblings battle rival clans for honor and control over an Asia-inspired fantasy metropolis.

On the island of Kekon, the Kaul family is locked in a violent feud for control of the capital city and the supply of magical jade that endows trained Green Bone warriors with supernatural powers they alone have possessed for hundreds of years.

Beyond Kekon’s borders, war is brewing. Powerful foreign governments and mercenary criminal kingpins alike turn their eyes on the island nation. Jade, Kekon’s most prized resource, could make them rich – or give them the edge they’d need to topple their rivals.

Faced with threats on all sides, the Kaul family is forced to form new and dangerous alliances, confront enemies in the darkest streets and the tallest office towers, and put honor aside in order to do whatever it takes to ensure their own survival – and that of all the Green Bones of Kekon.

Jade War is the second book of the Green Bone Saga, an epic trilogy about family, honor, and those who live and die by the ancient laws of blood and jade.


The Green Bone Saga
Jade City
Jade War

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The Green Bone Clans

Along with Their Associates and Enemies

The No Peak Clan

KAUL HILOSHUDON, Pillar

KAUL SHAELINSAN, Weather Man

EMERY ANDEN, a Kaul by adoption, recent graduate of Kaul Dushuron Academy

KAUL LANSHINWAN, former Pillar of the clan, elder brother to Hilo and Shae; deceased

KAUL SENINGTUN, the Torch of Kekon, patriarch of the family; deceased

KAUL DUSHURON, son of Kaul Sen, father of Lan, Hilo, and Shae; deceased

KAUL WAN RIAMASAN, widow of Kaul Du, mother of Lan, Hilo, and Shae

MAIK KEHNUGO, Horn of No Peak

MAIK TARMINGU, Pillarman to Kaul Hilo

KAUL MAIK WENRUXIAN, wife of Kaul Hilo, a stone-eye

WOON PAPIDONWA, the Weather Man’s Shadow, former Pillarman to Kaul Lan

HAMI TUMASHON, Master Luckbringer

JUEN NURENDO, First Fist of Maik Kehn

LOTT JINRHU, a Finger of the clan

YUN DORUPON, former Weather Man of Kaul Sen and Kaul Lan; a traitor

AUN UREMAYADA, mother of Emery Anden; deceased

HARU EYNISHUN, ex-wife of Kaul Lan

TEIJE RUNO, a second cousin of Hilo and Shae

KYANLA, housekeeper of the Kaul estate

Other Fists and Fingers

VUAY YUDIJO, Second Fist to Maik Kehn

IYN ROLUAN, a senior Fist

VIN SOLUNU, a senior Finger talented in Perception

HEIKE, DUDO, TON, Fingers of the clan, former classmates of Emery Anden

DOUN, YONU, TYIN, HEJO, Green Bones reporting to the Pillarman

Notable Lantern Men

EITEN, proprietor of the Cursed Beauty distillery, a former Fist maimed by Gont Asch

MR. UNE, proprietor of the Twice Lucky restaurant

MRS. SUGO, proprietor of the Lilac Divine Gentleman’s Club

MR. ENKE, real estate developer, president of Enke Property Group

The Mountain Clan

AYT MADASHI, Pillar

REE TURAHUO, Weather Man

NAU SUENZEN, Horn

AYT YUGONTIN, the Spear of Kekon, adoptive father to Mada, Im, and Eodo; deceased

AYT IMMINSHO, adopted elder son of Ayt Yu; deceased

AYT EODOYATU, adopted second son of Ayt Yu; deceased

GONT ASCHENTU, former Horn of the clan; deceased

WAUN BALUSHU, First Fist to Gont Asch and Nau Suen

IWE KALUNDO, Master Luckbringer

VEN SANDOLAN, president of K-Star Freight, a Lantern Man of the clan

VEN HAKUJON, a senior Fist of the clan, son of Ven Sando

KOBEN ATOSHO, a child, born Ayt Ato, son of Ayt Eodo

SEKO, a Fist of the clan, manager of White Rats

MUDT JINDONON, an informer; deceased

Ti Pasuiga

ZAPUNYO, jade smuggler, leader of Ti Pasuiga

IYILO, Zapunyo’s bodyguard

SORADIYO, rockfish recruiter and manager

BERO, a jade thief

MUDT KALONUN, a jade thief, son of Mudt Jin

Others in Kekon

HIS HEAVENSHIP PRINCE IOAN III, current sovereign of Kekon

SON TOMARHO, chancellor of the Royal Council of Kekon, a No Peak loyalist

GUIM ENMENO, minister of Home Concerns, a Mountain loyalist

MR. KOWI, a member of the Royal Council, a No Peak loyalist

TAU MAROSUN, professor of foreign studies at Jan Royal University

MASTER AIDO, private trainer in the jade disciplines

DURN SOSHUNURO, Pillar of the Black Tail clan

DR. TRUW, a Green Bone physician

GRANDMASTER LE, head instructor at Kaul Dushuron Academy

TOH KITARU, news anchor for Kekon National Broadcasting

Representatives of the Espenian Government

GREGOR MENDOFF, Republic of Espenia ambassador to Kekon

QUIRE CORRIS, secretary of international affairs for the Republic of Espenia

COLONEL LELAND DEILLER, commanding officer of Euman Naval Base

LIEUTENANT COLONEL JAY YANCEY, executive officer of Euman Naval Base

In Port Massy

The Kekonese-Espenians

DAUK LOSUNYIN, Pillar of Southtrap

DAUK SANASAN, wife of Dauk Losun, his “Weather Man”

DAUK CORUJON, “Cory,” son of Losun and Sana

ROHN TOROGON, the “Horn” of Southtrap

MR. AND MRS. HIAN, host family to Emery Anden

SHUN TODORHO, “Tod,” a Green Bone, Cory’s friend

ETTO SAMISHUN, “Sammy,” a Green Bone, Cory’s friend

LEDT DERUKUN, “Derek,” Cory’s friend

SANO, a doorman at the grudge hall

The Crews

BLAISETHE BULL” KROMNER, Boss of the Southside Crew

WILLUM “SKINNY” REAMS, top foreman of the Southside Crew

MOTH DUKE, a foreman of the Southside Crew

CARSON SUNTER, a coat in the Southside Crew

JOREN “JO BOY” GASSON, Boss of the Baker Street Crew

RICKART “SHARP RICKY” SLATTER, Boss of the Wormingwood Crew; in prison

ANGA SLATTER, acting Boss of the Wormingwood Crew, wife of Rickart Slatter




CHAPTER

1

Heaven Awaiting

It was madness to rob the grave of a Green Bone. Only someone with little regard for his own life would consider it, but if one was that sort of person, then tonight was the moment of opportunity. The cool, dry days of late winter had not yet given way to the incessant rain of spring, and low clouds obscured the rising moon over the tops of the trees in Widow’s Park. The streets of Janloon were unusually quiet; out of respect, people were forgoing their usual activities and staying home, hanging ceremonial spirit guiding lamps in their windows to honor the passing of Kaul Seningtun—national war hero, patriarch of the No Peak clan, the Torch of Kekon. So even though Bero and Mudt had taken the precaution of carrying no light, there was no one to take notice of their arrival at the cemetery.

The groundskeeper, Nuno, met them at the gate five minutes before the official closing time. “Here.” He thrust a black garbage bag at Bero. “Be quick. Night security doesn’t arrive for another half hour.” The three of them were alone, but Nuno spoke in a hurried whisper. His eyes, in the sun-shriveled hollows of his face, darted fearfully about the shadows of the shrubbery and tombstones. Thieves were the lowest sort of scum on Kekon, and grave robbers were lower than that. A bullet to the back of the head, the bill for the expense sent to their relatives—that was the lawful punishment they could expect to receive by morning if they were caught.

Bero took the plastic bag from Nuno. Ducking next to the stone wall, he pulled out two blue shirts and caps embroidered with the logo of Heaven Awaiting Cemetery. Hastily, he and Mudt put on the shirts and set the caps on their heads. Nuno led them at a brisk walk up a switchbacked hillside path to one of the largest, most prominent memorials on the grounds. A new plot had been dug in front of the looming green marble monument. Tomorrow, Kaul Seningtun would be laid to rest next to his grandson, Kaul Lanshinwan, former Pillar of No Peak, murdered and buried sixteen months ago. Sixteen months! A frustrating eternity for Bero to scheme and wait for his jade.

Nuno had dug the new plot himself that afternoon; a tractor with a backhoe attachment still rested next to the grave. Bero stood at the lip of the neat rectangular hole in the ground. A breeze stirred the disturbed grass at his feet, raising the pungent smell of damp earth. A shiver of excitement traveled up Bero’s spine. This was what he’d needed all along: for someone else to do most of the work for him. The first time he and Mudt had snuck into the cemetery with shovels, they’d been interrupted by a group of other drunken teens stumbling around after dark and scaring each other; the second time, it began pouring rain and they barely made a dent in the soggy earth before nearly being caught by security. After that, Bero figured they had to be smarter; they had to come up with a better plan and wait for the right time to act.

To Bero’s surprise, Mudt crouched down and jumped into the empty grave first. The boy looked back up, wiping his hands, his ferrety eyes bright. Bero slung the duffel bag he carried off his shoulder and took out the tools he needed. He passed them down to Mudt, then followed, the soles of his shoes thudding on freshly exposed dirt. For a second, the two teens glanced at each other, awed at their own conspiratorial daring. Then together, they began to attack the wall of the pit with shovels, burrowing like moles toward the neighboring coffin.

Nuno stood watch near the tractor, chewing a quid of betel nut and pretending to be taking a casual break from the hard work of grave-digging. It was uncommon for him to need to bring out the backhoe; most Kekonese were cremated and entombed in columbaria or buried in small plots dug by hand. Due to space considerations, even wealthy families like the Kauls, who could afford full plots, were buried with only a foot of space between caskets, so it was not long before Bero’s shovel struck a hard surface in the wall of soil. Stifling a shout of triumph, he redoubled his efforts. Dirt flew; it streaked his sweaty hands, and when he paused to wipe his brow, it left muddy tracks across his face. Bero did not feel any fatigue at all, only exhilaration and nearly unbearable anticipation; surely it was because his rightful jade was so close now, calling to him from within the coffin of the man he had killed.

“Kaul Lan used to be the Pillar of the No Peak clan,” Mudt said in a hushed but eager voice, speaking for the first time since they’d arrived. Mudt was only fifteen, three years younger than Bero, and his arms were skinny; he labored at their task, and his narrow face was flushed in the near dark. “He would’ve had more jade than just about anyone, wouldn’t he? More than the Maik brothers, even.” A vengeful glint shone in Mudt’s eyes. He had his own reasons for wanting jade.

“You can bet on it, keke,” Bero answered, without shifting his attention.

An anxious edge came into Mudt’s whisper. “How can we be sure the jade’s even here?” Except when taken by an enemy in battle, a Green Bone’s jade passed to his family. Warriors were often buried with some ceremonial portion of their green, but Kaul’s casket might contain only a few gemstones, or nothing at all. Given the intense cultural and religious stigma against stealing from the deceased, and the death penalty it carried, the effort and risk of grave robbing was rarely worth it, even for the most jade-fevered criminals.

Bero did not reply to Mudt; he couldn’t offer any reassurance other than that when he got a certain feeling, he always listened to it. He had that feeling now, like fate was smiling at him. The capricious tides of fortune pulled people this way and that, but Bero thought they took special notice of him, that he rode higher on them than most. Ah, he’d had plenty of bad luck in his life from the minute he’d been yanked squalling from his short-lived mother’s womb, but then again, he was alive when many others he knew were not—and now he was close to jade.

The side of the casket was visible now. What had once been a burnished cherry surface shone dull brown against black earth. The teenagers put down their shovels and tied kerchiefs tightly over their noses and mouths, then pulled on heavy work gloves. Bero picked up a cordless reciprocating saw. “Hold up the light,” he said, his voice muffled by the cloth. Mudt’s narrow penlight came on; he played it over the side of the coffin. When Bero started the saw, its shrill chatter nearly made him jump and drop the power tool on his feet. Mudt’s flashlight beam shook wildly before steadying again. Heart pounding against his ribs, Bero made a plunge cut into Kaul Lan’s casket and began to saw.

He cut out an area roughly the size of a television screen, then turned off the saw and set it down. With Mudt’s help, he hauled the piece of wood away. Dust and polyester batting came free and swirled in the air. An object dropped into the dirt at their feet. With a shout of elation, Bero dropped to his knees, barely restraining himself from seizing what he saw glinting like unearthed treasure under the flashlight beam: a string of jade beads, each stone flawless and brilliantly green, separated from its fellows with short black spacers on a silver chain. A powerful Green Bone leader’s ornament and weapon, a part of his very identity. A priceless object that could not be bought except with blood.

Mudt recovered his senses first; he grabbed Bero’s shoulder and said, “It was sewn into the lining. There might be more.” They dug around further in the damaged upholstery and almost at once found two leather forearm cuffs, studded with gems. Kaul had also worn a belt, heavy with jade; perhaps it was here as well, hidden elsewhere in the coffin.

Before they could search further, Nuno appeared at the edge of the grave, looking down from above them, his leathery face twitchy. “You have to get out. I sent the guards to check a broken lock on the back gate, but they’ll come back. We need to clean up this mess.”

“Throw down the duffel bag,” Bero called.

Nuno did so. Bero and Mudt pushed the cut piece of casket wood back into place and packed as much of the damp soil around it as they could. It pained Bero deeply to think of the other jade stones they might be leaving behind, but it was best to get away now, with what they had. He’d learned some painful lessons from being overambitious in the past. Careful not to touch the jade with his bare skin, he wrapped the precious finds in several layers of burlap and stowed it in the duffel bag along with their tools. Bero wiped his caked hands on his pants, slung the bag over his shoulder, and reached out a hand for Nuno to pull him out of the grave. The groundskeeper stepped back, his stained lips drawing away from his teeth in disgust. “I’m not getting near stolen jade.” It was only because Nuno had fallen into a considerable amount of debt that they’d been able to bribe him at all, with enough money that Bero had entertained long second thoughts over the amount of stashed shine he’d had to sell over the course of months to fund this venture.

Bero had Mudt lace his hands into a step and boost him out of the pit. When he’d scrambled safely back to his feet, Bero looked down at the younger teen, standing in the dirt with his arm outstretched, and for a moment he was tempted to leave Mudt behind. Now that he finally had his jade, why split it with this boy? But Mudt might give him away if he was cast aside. Besides, he had thick blood, and he had been useful so far—Bero had to admit that.

He crouched down and helped Mudt out. Nuno started up the backhoe and used it to pack the disturbed soil back into place. When he was done, the grave looked much as it had before. A keen eye inspecting the site would notice footprints in the dirt and an irregular, loose wall, but they weren’t counting on scrutiny. Bero and Mudt untied their kerchiefs and wiped the sweat and mud from their faces as Nuno led them briskly back down the hill. It was fully dark now, and no one was paying attention to them, but if someone had been, they would’ve seen what appeared to be a trio of cemetery maintenance workers finishing up for the day.

At the gate, Nuno said, “Give me back those shirts and hats, quick.” They tore off the soiled disguises, stuffing them back into the garbage bag. “You got what you came for, didn’t you? Damning your souls and all.” Nuno spat. “Now, about the other half of the money.”

Bero nodded and crouched down to unzip the side pocket of the duffel bag. From behind, Mudt swung with all his strength, hitting Nuno in the back of the head with the rock clutched in his fist, then shoved him to the ground. Bero stood up with a compact pistol in his hand and fired twice, putting the first bullet in Nuno’s forehead and the second in his cheek.

Both boys stared dumbstruck for three or four long seconds after the sharp report of gunfire faded. Rolled over, Nuno’s eyes were frozen open in alarm and surprise; the entry wounds were surprisingly small, and the blood was already being sucked up by the dry ground.

Bero’s first thought was that the plan had worked surprisingly well and he was right to have kept Mudt around after all. His second was that it was a good thing the groundskeeper wasn’t a large man or they would’ve had a real problem moving him. The two teenagers were panting and pouring sweat from exertion and fear by the time they dragged the body into a shallow hollow under the nearby shrubbery. Bero dug hastily through Nuno’s jacket for the man’s wallet. “Get his watch, too,” he hissed at Mudt. “Make it look like a robbery.” They snatched the key ring from the groundskeeper’s pocket, then kicked leaves and branches over the body and ran for the gate. As Bero cursed and struggled with the lock, Mudt bent over, gasping, hands on knees, the rolling whites of his eyes visible under the greasy mop of his hair. “Holy shit. Holy shit holy shit holy shit.

The gate swung open at last. They pulled the heavy metal bars shut behind them and Bero clutched the duffel bag tight as they sprinted into the cover of Widow’s Park ahead of the guards’ sweeping flashlights, toward the lantern glow of the city below.




CHAPTER

2

The Passing of the Torch

Kaul Hiloshudon stood at the head of the vast assembly of mourners who’d come to offer their final respects to his grandfather. There were a great many people paying close attention to him today, and they would notice if he seemed distracted or agitated, so he kept his eyes fixed firmly on the coffin draped in expensive white cloth and moved his lips dutifully to the penitents’ chanted recitations. Still, he found it difficult to pay attention to the service, impossible to gird his sense of Perception against the presence of so many enemies.

His grandfather had lived a long and important life. Kaul Sen had fought for the liberation of his country, and later, through politics and business and the great clan he built, he’d shaped the nation of Kekon in lasting ways. At the ripe age of eighty-three, he’d passed away quietly in the middle of the night, sitting in his usual chair by the window of the family house. A sign of favor from the gods, surely. If, in the final years of his life, with dementia and declining jade tolerance, Grandda had become a cruel, unbearable old man made bitter by regret and loss, who had nothing but unkind things to say about the leadership of the No Peak clan passing to his least favored grandchild—well, that was something the average citizen did not know. For two days and nights, a great public vigil had been held in the Temple District, and it seemed to Hilo that half the population of the city had turned out for the funeral. The other half was probably watching the event on television. The death of the Torch of Kekon marked the end of an era, the passing of a pivotal generation that had secured Kekon’s freedom from foreign occupation and rebuilt its prosperity. Every public figure of importance was here to take part in such a profound commemoration—including Ayt Madashi.

The Pillar of the Mountain clan was standing on the other side of the crowd, in a long, white jacket and white scarf, surrounded by her own people. Hilo could barely see her from where he stood, but he didn’t need to; he could Perceive the distinctive density of her jade aura easily enough. The irony of her presence at the very place where Hilo’s elder brother Lan lay turning to dust in the ground would’ve enraged Hilo if he’d allowed himself to dwell upon it, but he did not; he had no intention of giving his rival that satisfaction.

Yesterday, Ayt had issued a public statement praising Kaul Sen as a national hero, a father of the country, and the beloved comrade and friend of her late father, Ayt Yugontin—let the gods recognize them both. She expressed sadness over the recent strife between the clans of these two great men; she hoped the unfortunate disagreements could be overcome so the country might move forward in the spirit of unshakable unity once demonstrated by the patriotic wartime brotherhood of the One Mountain Society.

Genre:

  • "Sweeping, leisurely, and epic, and combines political intrigue with sharply choreographed action scenes, but it's a character-driven family drama at its heart.... The increasingly complex narrative continually ups the stakes. This worthy continuation of the larger story line delivers a satisfying tale and sets the stage for the next installment."—Publishers Weekly (starred review)
  • "This smart and action-filled fantasy, filled with vibrant characters, weaves intricate plot threads throughout, positioning many female characters front and center.... Will leave readers breathless with anticipation."—Library Journal (starred review)
  • "[Lee] juggles the personal and the epic with deft, admirable skill, weaving a story that is equally sweeping and intimate; a magical, almost operatic crime and family drama that feels all the more true because all of her jade-fueled supermen (and women) come with human hearts that bend and break the same as ours.—NPR
  • "Jade City has it all: a beautifully realized setting, a great cast of characters, and dramatic action scenes. What a fun, gripping read!"—Ann Leckie, author of the Hugo, Nebula, and Arthur C. Clarke Award winning novel Ancillary Justice
  • "Stylish and action-packed, full of ambitious families and guilt-ridden loves, Jade City is an epic drama reminiscent of the best classic Hong Kong gangster films but set in a fantasy metropolis so gritty and well-imagined that you'll forget you're reading a book."—Ken Liu, winner of the Hugo, Nebula, and World Fantasy Awards
  • "Lee's astute worldbuilding raises the stakes for her vivid and tautly-described action scenes." Scott Lynch, New York Times-bestselling author of The Lies of Locke Lamora, on Jade City
  • "Lee has upped her game in this novel, with deeper, more nail-biting intrigue and stunning, heart-pumping action scenes. Her character development is pitch-perfect."—Booklist
  • "Lee effortlessly injects more complexity into an already-rich universe.... Lee proves she's still a master at mafia-magic storytelling, and this second volume is deeper and more ambitious than the first."—BookPage
  • "Lee's epic twist on the mob drama is addictive."—B&N Sci-Fi & Fantasy Blog
  • "A strong, thoughtful, and fast-paced follow-up, which bodes well for future volumes."—Kirkus (starred review)
  • "Compelling characters and intricate worldbuilding.... I want to spend more time in Kekon."—Hank Green on Jade City
  • "Intricate, fast-moving, and brazen, Jade City elevates the fantasy crime novel to something really special. A sharp and insightful new voice."—Elizabeth Bear, winner of the Hugo and Locus Awards
  • "With a powerful family of complex characters -- including my favorite, Kaul Shaelinsan -- Jade City beckons readers to secret family meetings and public battles between warring clans. With magical jade at stake, winning the battle for control of a city has never been more important, or more dangerous. Fonda Lee's first adult novel is a fast-hitting, tantalizing, sometimes unsettling, and always insightful book with a wealth of power at its core. A modern-day epic."—Fran Wilde, award-winning author of Updraft, Cloudbound, and Horizon
  • "How does a book make me giddy and heartbroken at the same time? Jade City delivers intrigue, family drama, and martial arts magic that feels absolutely real."—Mary Robinette Kowal
  • "Fast cars, brilliant characters, and gangster kung-fu! Swift, intricate, and vicious as a talon knife, Fonda Lee's Jade City will pull you into a world of deft intrigue, hard choices, and bloody loyalty. Lee's written the postcolonial Godfather hiding under the surface of the Avatar: the Last Airbender universe -- and it's a fantastic read."—Max Gladstone, Hugo Award-nominated author of the Craft Sequence
  • "An atmospheric, gritty noir tale of family loyalties, martial arts and power struggles in a city that feels so real it becomes a character in its own right. Jade City is epic drama writ large."—Aliette de Bodard, winner of the Nebula, Locus, and British Science Fiction Awards
  • "If you like extremely tense political maneuvering and intrigue, you will love Jade City. Fonda Lee is the new Mario Puzo; Jade City has officially dethroned The Godfather."—Sarah Gailey, Hugo and Campbell Award finalist
  • "Dynamic fight scenes and vibrant world-building bring to life this sharp, memorable story of a family caught up in a ferocious gang war."—Kate Elliott on Jade City
  • "A sweeping saga of ambition, loyalty, and family in a gritty, densely-imagined island city. Fonda Lee explores the tension between what is owed to family, country, and yourself in a high-stakes, high-octane game of power and control."—p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px Calibri; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000}span.s1 {font-kerning: none}Tina Connolly, Nebula-nominated author of Ironskin, on Jade City
  • "Exquisite writing, explosive fighting -- Jade City is as rich and deadly as the Green Bones warriors who stalk its pages. I tore through this book like bullets through a fine restaurant in hotly disputed territory."—Heidi Heilig
  • "An addictive read with intense martial arts action and high-stakes character drama. I'll never look at jade the same way again."—Beth Cato on Jade City

On Sale
Jul 23, 2019
Publisher
Hachette Audio
ISBN-13
9781549126765

Fonda Lee

About the Author

Fonda Lee is the World Fantasy Award-winning author of Jade City and the award-winning YA science fiction novels Zeroboxer, Exo, and Cross Fire. Born and raised in Canada, Lee is a black belt martial artist, a former corporate strategist, and an action movie aficionado who now lives in Portland, Oregon with her family.

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