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.
It seems like everyone is talking about The Sword of Kaigen in 2019 and it was so highly praised.
After knowing that it is one of the finalists for the SPFBO competition, I immediately picked it up and fell in love with it! The Sword of Kaigen is a Japanese inspired military fantasy standalone. Its supposed to be the prequel to ML Wang’s Theonite series but you can totally follow the story of this book without being exposed to her Theonite series.
I would say that this book reminds me a lot of Avatar: The Last Airbender whereby the magic system focuses on the control of elements such as water, fire and air. Nevertheless, I still feel that the magic system is rather authentic as ML Wang added her own personal twist to it by allocating a unique technique to each Family. For example, the technique unique to the Matsuda Family is the Whispering Blade (a weapon formed by ice and can cut through anything), and the technique unique to the Tusano Family is Blood manipulation.
As for the characters, I enjoyed Misaki’s character the most. Her development throughout the book is so engaging and to some extent inspiring. I can sense some feminism concepts being introduced through her characterization (especially her relationship between Misaki and Takeru, her husband) and I personally favoured her Blood manipulation technique.
The fighting scenes are so well written in this story. One problem to me is that the climax of the story came too early and ended maybe after the first half of the story. I think this is a personal taste whereby I enjoy reading stories which climaxed at the end rather than the midway of the story. But this does not change the fact that the climax of the story (consists mainly if fighting scenes) were handled so brilliantly.
The Sword of Kaigen to me deserves a 4.5/5 star read. Please grab a copy of this and you will not regret it!