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Jade Man's Skin    by Daniel Fox order for
Jade Man's Skin
by Daniel Fox
Order:  USA  Can
Del Rey, 2010 (2010)
Softcover, e-Book

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* * *   Reviewed by Hilary Williamson

Jade Man's Skin, the sequel to Daniel Fox's Dragon in Chains, is set in a fantasy variant of ancient China in which proximity to jade (mined only on the island of Taishu) gives the Sons of Heaven long life and power and is forbidden to common folk.

In Dragon in Chains, a young Emperor (Chien Hua) and the defenders who want to control him fled a usurper and his army to Taishu, where Chien Hua took Mei Feng, old fisherman Yen's granddaughter, as his concubine and confidante. Between Taishu and the mainland, a dragon lay chained by magical bonds under the ocean. That dragon was freed in time to destroy the invading fleet, but left linked to Han - a boy with a hard history, who was assisted by a rebel army doctor and his niece Tien. Han and Tien fell for each other.

Now as Jade Man's Skin opens, Han and the dragon settle into an uneasy relationship on the Forge, while Tien and the others escape to the mainland. There, Tien returns to caring for the sick, while researching ways to help Han in the rebel general's library. Mei Feng grows very angry with Chien Hua when he listens to traitorous General Ping Wen's advice to take the war across the strait. That military action is initiated after Yen shows that it's possible (with help from the Li-goddess) to sail under the dragon's wrathful eye.

The life of young jade miner Yu Shan grows complicated - to the amusement of all around him - when he finds himself in a romantic triangle. He and warrior woman Jiao had become close, but now his clan-cousin Siew Ren has joined the young Emperor's forces, and asserts her prior claim on him. There are miraculous sightings of a jade tiger. And Mei Feng has an important commission for Jiao's old friend, skilled jade carver Guangli, one that just might save the reckless Son of Heaven's life by making him even more invulnerable.

After Chien Hua, eager to prove his mettle, takes his army - including former kitchen boy Chung - to war, it becomes a race against time for a determined and furious Mei Feng, who knows that someone close to the boy she loves will try to kill him. Several traps are laid for the young Emperor and his forces, but only one closes on him. Jade Man's Skin is an excellent and highly recommended sequel. Filled with action and conflict, and moving the story forward on several fronts, it will leave readers anxious for more.

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