Author: June CL Tan
In an empire on the brink of war…
Ahn is no one, with no past and no family.
Altan is a lost heir, his future stolen away as a child.
When they meet, Altan sees in Ahn a path to reclaiming the throne. Ahn sees a way to finally unlock her past and understand her arcane magical abilities.
But they may have to pay a far deadlier price than either could have imagined.
Told in a dual POV narrative reminiscent of EMBER IN THE ASHES, JADE FIRE GOLD is a YA fantasy is inspired by East Asian mythology and folk tales. Epic in scope but intimate in characterization, fans of classic fantasies by Tamora Pierce and the magical Asiatic setting of AVATAR: THE LAST AIRBENDER will enjoy this cinematic tale of family, revenge, and forgiveness.
While I eagerly anticipated Jade Gold Fire before its release, I became even more excited when my FairyLoot edition arrived. As this is a standalone fantasy novel, I went into it unsure how well everything would go as it’s a difficult task for an author to pull together an entire world, plot, and characters within one book. While there are some elements that I felt could have used some additional exploration, I consider this a win for the author as a debut. There is some room for a sequel based on the epilogue, but it can still stand well as a standalone if one is never written. The story was entertaining, and the characters were well-written, and I loved its connection to Avatar: The Last Airbender.
The story follows two main characters, Ahn and Altan in dual perspectives. Ahn is a peasant girl who lives with her ill grandmother after being abandoned as a child. She has no memories of her life before living her grandmother and she has secret abilities that she needs to keep hidden. Altan is the lost heir to the throne who wants revenge on those who have wronged his family. As everyone believes he is dead, he is quietly gaining supporters along with a legendary blade to prepare to take back the throne. When the two characters cross paths, they realize that the other may be of use to them, so they set out on a journey together.
As the story switches perspectives between Altan and Ahn, the reader gets a better understanding of their inner thoughts and motivations. Altan is driven by revenge and sometimes it blinds him. Ahn is driven by longing where she wants to learn about her past and her powers. While each character has a different path, I liked how the story balanced the similarities and differences between their approaches. The relationship between them seems like it will be a slow burn, but it builds very quickly that I did not fully connect to them together. Most of this comes down to the novel being a standalone as the main conflict, world-building, etc. all have to be covered, so the romance element did not get the attention it deserved. If you are the type of reader that does not focus a lot on the romance parts of the story, then you may not mind it as much.
The pacing of the story is a little disjointed as, again, there is a lot to cover in a single novel. At times everything happens too quickly and at others it is slower as there is a lot in the beginning to build up. I think if there was more build up to the faster pace of the climax, then that would have helped as the pacing jumped a bit too much for my taste. While the pacing affected the reading experience, it also affected the character development. For me, Ahn accepted things very easily, which did not allow her to go through as much growth as I expected. Altan went though more development, for me, than Ahn, but I still expected more from his character.
There are many elements that I wanted a little more exploration, but it was a great read as a whole. The lore and mythology were well integrated into the story, and I liked the mix of predictability with the unexpected twists. The writing itself was amazing and I loved all the smaller pieces of the story that came together to make this novel captivating to me as a reader. The novel was a great read and I loved that I read my special edition as it gave it a little extra enjoyment by just feeling like a more luxurious reading experience. Overall, this story was very interesting, and I am very curious to read more from the author!