A man who wears the crown of a king can’t wear the jade of a warrior. Gold and jade, never together.
Take a mix of Chinese/Japanese culture, an almost modern setting (it sometimes feels like the 20s and sometimes like the straight modern day), magic based on how much Jade you’re wearing (but only if you’re from a bloodline that can use it–or have taken drugs that let you pretend you are), and throw in a country controlled by a pair of rival equivalents to the Mafia/Yakuza and you have Jade City.
It’s a crazy deep amount of worldbuilding, with countries and cultures and battles that feel just the other side of familiar. It’s fascinating, because it really does feel like you’re living in the world. There are all of these other places out there, but unless you’re in the head of one of the characters that lived abroad, you only know/care about the smaller world of Kekon and the war between the Jade clans.
In that world, you have all manner of point of view characters (mostly/all from one of the two clans), just trying to do the best they can for their Clan and Country (in that order), until of course everything falls apart.
It’s an awfully dense book, especially at first, since there are just so many names and concepts to figure out. But you quickly come to fall in love with the Kaul family, rooting for them to figure it all out.
“Expectations are a funny thing,” Wen said. “When you’re born with them, you resent them, fight against them. When you’ve never been given any, you feel the lack of them your whole life.”
Well worth the read. I just wish the full trilogy was out already! Onward to book 2 though for now.