Of Jade and Dragons by Amber Chen: Thrilling and Complex

Eighteen-year-old Aihui Ying dreams of becoming a world-class engineer like her father, but after his sudden murder, her life falls apart. Left with only a journal of her father’s engineering secrets and a jade pendant snatched from the assassin, a heartbroken Ying follows the trail to the capital and the prestigious Engineers Guild—a place that harbors her father’s hidden past—determined to discover why anyone would threaten a man who ultimately chose a quiet life over fame and fortune.

Disguised as her brother, Ying manages to infiltrate the guild’s male-only apprenticeship trial with the help of an unlikely ally—Aogiya Ye-yang, the taciturn eighth prince of the High Command. With her father’s renown placing a target firmly on her back, Ying must stay one step ahead of her fellow competitors, the jealous guild masters, and the killer still hunting for her father’s journal. Complicating everything is her increasingly tangled relationship with the prince, who may have mysterious plans of his own.

The secrets concealed within the guild can be as deadly as the weapons they build—and with her life and the future of her homeland at stake, Ying doesn’t know who to trust. Can she avenge her father even if it means going against everything he stood for, or will she be next in the mastermind’s line of fire?

Of Jade and Dragons by Amber Chen is thrilling and complex, exploding into action from the first scene. From the very beginning, the intrigue and mystery are set in motion as we follow Ying on her journey to discover the truth of her father’s death and find justice. But the answers Ying seeks are not what she expects and the complexities of the world she enters could change her forever. 

What I love about Ying is how well we feel her frustration over her father’s death but also the complexity of the relationship she builds with Ye-Yang. The story is emotional and as the intrigue builds, so too do the stakes for Ying. If she is found, she could lose everything and that includes her relationship with Ye-Yang. I also love the dynamics of her friendships with the other students, in particular Ye-Kun. Even though she is pretending to be a boy, her friendships with the others are all too real and there are very real consequences for her finding out the truth about her father. 

The complexity of war and the choice for peace are also shown with real depth and detail in Ying’s story. Nothing is black and white, not even Ying’s actions. The only thing that is certain is what each individual must choose and what they must sacrifice in order to get what they want. The ending is explosive and dynamic and is entirely unexpected. 

If you like complex stories with wonderful steampunk detail set in an Asian fantasy world, this is the story for you. I love the detailed worldbuilding, the steampunk elements are well thought out and the details of the world are fantastic. The story is thrilling and complex with characters that will keep you engaged. It is easy to connect to Ying and the characters in the novel and the ending is dynamic and emotional. 

Rating: 5 out of 5 flying ships

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