Book Review: The Sword of Kaigen by M.L. Wang

Hi everyone! Welcome to my review of The Sword of Kaigen by M.L. Wang for The Sword of Kaigen blog tour! This tour is hosted by Karina from Afire Pages, and you can find all the information about the tour, including a super exciting giveaway, by heading over to this post on her blog.

I’ll also be including the schedule for the whole tour at the end of this review, so you can follow along with all the other wonderful things happening on this tour. For now, though, let’s get into the review!

Disclaimer: Thank you to Karina and M.L. Wang for providing me with a free ebook copy of this story in exchange for an honest review. All opinions expressed are my own.

Synopsis

Title: The Sword of Kaigen

Author: M.L. Wang

Publisher: M.L. Wang

Publishing Date: Februrary 19, 2019

Pages: 651

Genre: Adult High Fantasy

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.

My Review (Non-Spoiler)

I just finished this book last night as I’m writing this, so my feelings are still discombobulated and I’m hoping this review will make sense, but I can’t make any promises.

To put it simply, I really enjoyed this book. My favorite part was definitely the world-building. This book is actually a stand-alone companion to M.L. Wang’s Theonite series, so the world is huge and complex. Even though I haven’t read that series and I didn’t look at the glossary until after I finished reading the book, I didn’t have much trouble understanding all the unfamiliar terms.  I think M.L. Wang did a great job of taking her huge world and magic system and explaining it in a way that someone who goes into this book having not read anything else could still get it.

I also loved how this book focused on family, and especially motherhood. As someone who primarily reads YA books, where the parents are usually either dead or absent, it was incredible to see a mother who was not only present in the story, but was actually a main character. And she’s such a great character, too. She’s a skilled warrior, but she’s also caring, which I really liked.

 I liked so many other things about this story, but a lot of them are pretty major spoilers, so I think I’m just going to leave it there for now.

Moving on to some of the things I didn’t like as much. Really, the only thing is that sometimes the plot seemed to drag a little. Even though there is a good amount of action and some really cool descriptions of awesome elemental magic, in my opinion, this book is much more character-driven than it is plot-driven. Normally, I’m more of a plot-driven kind of girl, but in this book, I found the characters (especially Misaki) so interesting that it didn’t bother me as much. There were still some sections, though, particularly towards the beginning, when I wasn’t as attached to the characters, where I got a little bored, but that quickly fixed itself.

That’s all for the non-spoiler section of this review! Like I said, I really loved this book, so if you haven’t yet read this book and anything I’ve said here has sounded interesting, I would really recommend that you go and read it before you read the rest of this review because I’m about to get into some major spoilers.

If this is where you’re leaving, thank you so much for hanging out with me! As always, feel free to leave any thoughts you have down below in the comments section!

Before you go, don’t forget to check out the rest of the blog tour and to enter the giveaway over on Karina’s blog! The blog tour runs through November 29th, and the giveaway ends on December 11th. Here is the tour schedule:

Spoiler Section

Okay, time to get into my more in-depth thoughts on this book. I’m going to be honest with you, this section is probably going to be a lot less coherent than the first part of this review, because like I said, I literally just finished. But Mamoru’s death. Wow, what a way to rip my heart out. Case in point:

“A decade later, a fifteen-year-old Hiroshi would become known as the youngest swordsman ever to master the Whispering Blade. What the world would never know, was that he was the second youngest.”

When I read that, my heart broke. I never really thought Mamoru would die (nor did I think any of the other major characters that died in that section would die), and honestly, I kept hoping, ridiculously, that maybe he would come back somehow. He didn’t, of course, and I think that was ultimately better for the story—but still.

Second spoilery thought: I love, love, love what M.L. Wang did with the relationship between Takeru and Misaki. I keep talking about this book in comparison to the YA books I’ve read, which I know isn’t really a fair comparison, but since I primarily read YA, it’s the only comparison I have. Anyway, it was really nice to see a book where the main character chose stability, loyalty, and family over passion and desire. I loved watching Misaki get up the courage to stand up to her husband. I loved watching them learn how to speak to each other and mend not only their relationship, but also themselves. I loved watching them fall in love for the first time, after being married for 15 years. Aside from the incredible world-building, I think this evolution of the relationship between Takeru and Misaki is my favorite thing about the whole book.

Okay! Those are all my thoughts on The Sword of Kaigen (or all the ones I could figure out how to put into words, anyway). If you’ve read to this point, I assume you’ve finished the book, so let me know in the comments, what’s your favorite part?

Thanks for reading, everyone! I’ll see you next time!

-Ariel

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