Novellas providing deeper insight into well-established fictional worlds have become a great treat for fans of epic book series, and Fonda Lee’s The Jade Setter of Janloon deftly fits its slot as it chronicles an adventure that happens within book one of The Green Bone Saga timeframe, Jade City.
In The Jade Setter of Janloon we follow a character whose appearance in the series is unremarkable, if included. As an apprentice to the only jade setter in Kekon who serves all clans indiscriminately, Pulo Oritono often finds himself surrounded by green bone enforcers—privy to matters that spell out the latest power grab or shuffle. With these constant reminders of his shortcomings as a green bone fighter and lack of social power, Pulo can’t help but to imagine how he can use his skills as a jade setter to build an enterprise worthy of renown among the powerful clientele the shop serves. Sadly, it seems the master he apprentices under will never follow the ambitious plans that Pulo has proposed for the future of the shop. Even worse, the master continues to waste valuable resources supporting people with no insight into the trade, wasting funds that could upgrade the shop. When the worst of these consumers—the master’s entitled nephew—puts everyone who works at the shop in the crosshairs of potential clan warfare, Pulo uses his limited understanding of the political power among the clans to save his master and the shop.
While this novella is not a necessary read for fans of the Green Bone saga—it does not shed light on any unresolved issues, which Lee ties up artfully within the series itself—this novella is perfect for those who wonder what is it like for characters who show non-combat competence with jade. This story unfolds with the same great skill and character development that Lee brings to her longer tomes and is an enjoyable return to a world worthy of all the hype it receives.