Title / The Sword of Kaigen
Author / M. L. Wang
Publication Date / February 2019
Series or standalone / Standalone
Page no. / 559
Overall Rating / ★★★★★
The Sword of Kaigen is a self published, Japanese-inspired, high fantasy book set in the same world as the author’s Theonite series, however this book is a standalone and can be read without having read that series. This was my first book by this author and I will definitely be keeping an eye out for future releases.
In this book, we follow two main perspectives; fourteen year old Mamoru and his mother, Misaki. These two protagonists are so well written and I quickly became invested in their story. Wang does a fantastic job at creating flawed and complex characters that you come to really care for. I cannot say enough good things about the way these characters are written and their development throughout the book. Misaki, in particular, is an incredible protagonist and a new favourite of mine. I also loved the female friendship portrayed in this book between Misaki and two other women. All of the characters in this book are so well written.
The pacing of this book has such an addictive quality to it. Once I started reading, I didn’t want to put it down. It does have quite a slow start, as the world and characters are introduced, but Wang still manages to keep this section engaging. I never felt that it dragged and I was never bored while reading. This book is pretty intense at times and it doesn’t pull any punches – you will feel a whole range of emotions while reading this. The writing is great throughout and I found it easy to settle into the flow of it. Wang has a clear talent for writing action scenes, one duel in particular was incredible to read. The plot is compelling throughout the 559 pages and I loved reading every second of it.
The last thing I want to mention is the world building and magic system. Once again, Wang has done a wonderful job at creating these aspects of this book. It seemed to me that this is set in a kind of alternate Earth with the addition of the magic system. This world contains technology from the modern world, such as TV and radio, although the main setting of this book is a mountain community that doesn’t have much access to these technologies. It is clear that Wang has spent a lot of time and effort creating this world. The world building is so vivid and detailed without ever relying on info-dumping. The details of customs, honorifics and attitudes are sprinkled throughout the books and add a lot of depth to the world. The magic system is another strength of The Sword of Kaigen. I’m not going to talk about it a lot because I think it’s best to find out about it while reading, but Wang has created a unique and well thought out magic system, including ice magic and blood manipulation.
Overall I loved this book and I cannot recommend it highly enough. I find sometimes in standalone fantasy books, the author focuses mainly on one thing, either characters or world building, but that is not the case with this one – both are incredibly well done. Seriously, if you are a big reader of fantasy books, then you need to check this one out. I will definitely be keeping an eye out for any future releases by this author. This review was quite tricky to write because I couldn’t organise all my thoughts about this amazing book. Have you guys read this one? I’d love to know what you thought. I hope you are all having a wonderful day and I will see you next time.