Title: The Sword Of Kaigen
Series: A Theonite War Story
Author: M.L. Wang
Genre: Adult, fantasy
Publisher: M.L. Wang
A mother struggling to repress her violent past,
A son struggling to grasp his violent future,
A father blind to the danger that threatens them all.
When the winds of war reach their peninsula, will the Matsuda family have the strength to defend their empire? Or will they tear each other apart before the true enemies even reach their shores?
High on a mountainside at the edge of the Kaigenese Empire live the most powerful warriors in the world, superhumans capable of raising the sea and wielding blades of ice. For hundreds of years, the fighters of the Kusanagi Peninsula have held the Empire’s enemies at bay, earning their frozen spit of land the name ‘The Sword of Kaigen.’
Born into Kusanagi’s legendary Matsuda family, fourteen-year-old Mamoru has always known his purpose: to master his family’s fighting techniques and defend his homeland. But when an outsider arrives and pulls back the curtain on Kaigen’s alleged age of peace, Mamoru realizes that he might not have much time to become the fighter he was bred to be. Worse, the empire he was bred to defend may stand on a foundation of lies.
Misaki told herself that she left the passions of her youth behind when she married into the Matsuda house. Determined to be a good housewife and mother, she hid away her sword, along with everything from her days as a fighter in a faraway country. But with her growing son asking questions about the outside world, the threat of an impending invasion looming across the sea, and her frigid husband grating on her nerves, Misaki finds the fighter in her clawing its way back to the surface.
I feel like I won’t be able to get into talking about this book without spoilers, because it is so rich and complex and intense. But I will try, because watching it unfold over the pages was such a treat that I want everyone to get a chance to experience it.
The novel follows the members of the Matsuda family, one of the warrior families of a village in Kaigen. We follow Mamoru, the eldest son of Misaki and Takeru, as well as his mother Misaki’s point of views as their world is changed forever.
Kaigen is very much based on Japanese culture and history, and it is very evident in the way the the village they live in follows the warrior culture of samurais old. There is a clash of tradition and advancement, and the world building is so fantastic and immense. The way the high fantasy elements are woven in with the political and military landscape of the world is handled very masterfully. The differences in the powers of the theonites and the other ‘lesser’ powers are written very well, very subtly, if one doesn’t look for it at first, and very much mirrors real life beliefs that people held, and still hold.
The novel takes a little bit to get into, because it is very character driven at it’s core. It unfolds slowly, but once it hits it’s stride, it picks up in such a way that I was hard pressed to put it down. And fight scenes usually are something I skim through, but I found myself devouring the way the author very vividly painted the scenes.
Going into the novel, I did not know that it was based in a world the author had already built. While this novel is a standalone, and one does not need to read the other books in this universe, I am very much intrigued by the other books the author has written about the theonites.