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Simply phenomenal The Sword of Kaigen is a stunning achievement of empathetic and masterful storytelling.Every once in a while, a book comes along that sinks its hooks and claws into your very soul It transcends beyond what a 5 star book usually means to me It is a book that I will plead, beg and maybe even force everyone to read, so that they can experience the same awe and emotions as I did Thus far, I have not gone down the road of awarding 6 stars to some of my favourites, but there are several that I could easily place in that category Namely The Stormlight Archive, a few titles from Malazan Book of the Fallen, and Heir of Novron, the final omnibus of The Riyria Revelations Now, this extraordinary stand alone fantasy novel, which is a rarity in itself, has earned itself a well deserved spot among these masterpieces.The Sword of Kaigen is the most well balanced stand alone fantasy book that I ve had the pleasure of reading From its convincing worldbuilding and awe inspiring elemental magic system to the intensely epic action scenes and the quiet, contemplative moments, and most of all, its stellar character development Throughout the entire novel, there was not one moment which did not matter, and a palpable tension permeated every turn of the page.The world was heavily inspired by our Far Eastern cultures and its people The Kaigenese are reminiscent of the Japanese and the Ranganese the Chinese A lot of new and unfamiliar terms, such as those used to describe time, length, clothes, social classes and honorifics, did result in a rather steep learning curve at the beginning Fortunately, there is a detailed glossary available with the book, and after reading several chapters, context helped to enhance the understanding of these strange words I do not know much Japanese, but I have an inkling that a lot of these words are derived in some form or another from this language A lot of care and attention to detail evidently went into creating a world that was entirely new and yet felt familiar and believable.I will not elaborate on the plot as the book s synopsis did a great job of revealing just enough without any spoilers Misaki is the only daughter of a well standing and powerful family who had to turn her back from her exciting life of adventure and the man she loved when she married the second son of the Matsudas, one of the formidable old warrior houses whose bloodline wields the legendary Whispering Blade Such a union of powerful families through arranged marriages was a tradition observed to maintain the lineage of the bloodline Wives are expected to bear as many sons as possible for their husbands or are deemed a failure The treatment of women as portrayed in The Sword of Kaigen was a brutal reality in our Far Eastern patriarchal societies While advancement and progress have decreased the extent of such gender discrimination, it still exists in the traditional and prominent families who treasure the continuation of their lineage above all else.It was entirely by chance that I ended up finishing this book on International Women s Day This book, which honoured the strength and courage of women, and their capacity for sacrificing all for the ones they love, could not have come at a better time I have either too many words or not enough to describe the characterisation of Misaki As an Asian woman, the distinctive cultural sensibilities in Kaigen, and Misaki s inner turmoil as she teetered between resistance and submission, resonated like a windchime The empathy and strength of her character made for one of the most enthralling and relatable portrayals of a woman that I ve come across Undoubtedly, Misaki is now one of my favourite female characters of all time, if not the favourite She had taken every hardship like a stroke of a hammer, turning it into strength No character, regardless of how well written, can stand on his or her own What made The Sword of Kaigen spectacular was that the author gave even the supporting characters equally masterful strokes This enhanced my level of emotional investment which made the story so intense and gripping.I had high expectations when my co reviewer mentioned that the action and magic battle sequences were Sanderson worthy I was far from being disappointed, and was gifted with two exceptionally memorable scenes Barely halfway into the book, the power of the gods made manifest in humans clashed in a devastating battle of wind and ice Sometimes action scenes in fantasy can be written with either just a bit too much of a technical or abstract quality that I find it hard to picture the actual fighting In The Sword of Kaigen, this was astoundingly well written and with such clarity and simplicity that I could see and feel everything that happened I could feel the force of the wind crushing the air out from my chest, and the sharpness of ice piercing the armour of my soul The unrelenting power of destruction rained upon the civilians, defenseless in its wake The vivid imagery of the forces of nature wielded by men and women of superlative skills, battling for supremacy The vicious desperation of a lone mother protecting her family As the madness of war abated, I could see the hauntingly blank faces of survivors grappling with loss and grief The poignancy in the evocative contrast of snow and blood amid the peaceful yet ghastly aftermath of violence and death dark red essence of life against the purity of white.Then came one of the most breathtaking scenes that I have ever read From each of the little or not so little moments that have transpired, and from each flicker or flare of emotions, culminated an intense scene of such ferocity and strength of will that it belied how small it was on an absolute scale The sheer intimacy of this fight, fueled by anguish and anger suffered in silence for years, overwhelmed me in an emotional hurricane of ice and snow My already crumbling armour shattered into a million pieces.What followed after that was a beautifully written and lovingly crafted closure to Misaki s story I appreciated that the author took the time to draw out the ending in what I felt to be a fitting send off for these characters in whom I ve grown so invested I cannot imagine saying goodbye so quickly after that emotionally powerful scene I needed to see better times ahead for these people, who after so many years of harbouring pain and loneliness, have finally found hope Sword of Kaigen was for me a love story, or to be exact a story about love It was about the love of a mother for her children, the love between a man and a woman, the love between siblings, family and friends, and the love for one s home and its people It was about being a bigger person than you thought possible to protect what you love, no matter the costs And to let go when you had to, no matter how hard In Misaki, it was ultimately about a woman s capacity to love and forgive, and in doing so, achieving wholeness Maybe this was the how Robin had been looking for, the simple magic by which she held herself together Love for what she had and what was gone Love no matter the pain I can t praise this book and its author, M.L Wang, enough I also can t believe that I ve not even heard of her before This exceptional book only proved that the fantasy genre has once again been blessed with the emergence of a brilliant young talent.Do I need to elaborate any further on how amazing The Sword of Kaigen is Run, don t walk, to get this book and read it Now You can thank me laterYou can order this book from US UK Book Depository Free shipping worldwide You can also find this, and my other reviews at Novel Notions. There are a million ways to tell the same story Our job as jaseliwu is to find the one the listener needs to hear Not necessarily the one that makes them the happiest or the one that gives them the most information, but the one they need to hear to do what they need to doM.L Wang s The Sword of Kaigen is nothing short of remarkable An instant classic that is both heart breaking and heart warming in almost equal measure I cried, I laughed, and I was awed by the emotion this book was able to bring out in me M.L s ability to reach into the soul of this story and bring it forth is an amazing feat of literary genius I ve read several books this year that I have rated 5 stars, but this is my favorite of them all I feel it may be sometime before I connect with a book the way I did with this one.Takayubi is a small mountain village in The Kaigenese Empire, and also happens to be the home of one of the most powerful theonite families in the world, the Matsuda s The two main characters Mitsuki and Mamoru are part of the Matsuda family Mitsuki married into the Matsuda family by an arranged marriage orchestrated by her father Mamoru is Mitsuki and her husband Takeru s first born son The majority of the story is played out from these two characters point of view Mitsuki is still living in the past after all these years She struggles with her station as a house wife and can t get over how different her life would be if she would ve been allowed to make her own decisions Mamoru is a 14 year old teenager trying to live up to his family s powerful name and magical history But when a foreign student joins his class, he is forced to question everything he has been taught to believe The Sword of Kaigen is a Japanese military inspired novel that shows the effects war can have on a person, a family, and a community I know war is horrible and I don t condone it in any way, but M.L Wang shows a different side of war besides just the unneeded slaughter that comes with it She did manage to break my heart though More so, than I can remember any book ever doing It really was a roller coaster of emotions, but it wasn t the quick highs and lows you get in a lot of books Some sections of the story are a slow burn that really let the feelings of what just happened linger for a while You re not thrown from once scene to the next, so those emotions really have time to sink in I am usually one for a fast paced book, but I think the pacing in this book was masterfully done It just wouldn t have had the same effect without it Of course, any great fantasy book is going to have a magic system The magic system in The Sword of Kaigen is one of the better ones I ve had the pleasure to read in some time It is very well thought out and described in detail If I had to label it, I would say it is has a basis to elemental magic But there are also sub genres to it as well which makes it unique in its own way It also really enhances the battle scenes Here is another area I have to give M.L Wang props She knows how to write close quarter battle scenes These were described in great detail and she didn t hold back Giving a blow by blow commentary of each sword stroke and magical strike This book contains one of the best single combat scenes I have read in a very long timeMen like Matsuda Takeru the First existed only in legends, because of course, there were no real men who could end the troubles of a kingdom with a stroke of the swordLike I said above, this is a Japanese military inspired novel, so some of the terminology and formal names took me a while to get used to Heck, I didn t even know there was a glossary until I got over halfway through the book Thanks to my BR companion Samir for pointing that out to me, but I already had most of it figured out by then I say this because I don t won t anyone to get discouraged from reading this for a simple thing like terminology You will be missing out on a truly remarkable story I have no doubt I will be reading this multiple times over the years to come.There are a few other things I would like to say, but I believe I will stop here I don t want to give too much away Most of the magic of reading is finding out for yourself Although, I would like to send a shout out to Petrik for convincing me this was a book I needed to read as soon as possible, instead of letting it sit on my TBR pile until who knows when You were absolutely right, bro As usualYou learn over time that the world isn t broken It s justgot pieces to it than you thought They all fit together, just maybe not the way you pictured when you were youngActual Rating 5 stars The Sword of Kaigen is a masterpiece in standalone fantasy writing and the story and characters are so captivating that the story transcended into an emotional and deeply rooted literary experience I admit I have a real soft spot for well written, plotted and developed fantasy books There s something about the fantasy genre that lifts me from my everyday life and catapults me into pure bliss The Sword of Kaigen represents the BEST that a fantasy book could elicit from a reader I was so blown away and connected to the story and main character Misaki , that the book left me with tears in many instances Thanks again to super reviewers Petrik and TS for their wonderful review and endorsement of this magic book, otherwise I would have never had the privilege to read it The Sword of Kaigen achieves near nirvana in storytelling, mostly because the characters were so well developed and the story so personal and engaging This wonderfully gifted writer, M.L Wang has my utmost admiration I m used to fantasy demi Gods like Sanderson, GRR Martin, Tolkien, etc Never in a zillion years would I expect a freshman writer to create such a unique and powerful story The story is heavily influenced by old Japanese military culture and battlegrounds, where samurai swords and martial arts played a vital role in combat The Kaigenese empire is fractured and always surrounded by enemies At the snowy mountain of Takayubi at the Kusanagi peninsula, rest the legendary Matsuda family who have protected the empire for generations Known as The Sword of Kaigen , the Matsuda family, along with many other prominent families form an essential role in the defense and history of the empire As story unfolds, we follow the Matsuda family in their everyday life and the perils they face defending the empire The characters are the prized jewels of the narrative, and provide the backbone of this astounding story Misaki s,plight is filled with so much emotion and fluidity, that it s hard to compare a character I felt so connected in recent memory Misaki is so well characterized, she parallels to perhaps, my favorite fantasy character of all times Sanderson s phenomenal Kaladin in the Stormlight series M.L Wang s inspiration carries over to the supporting cast, and Misaki s son Mamoru and the entire Matsuda family are brilliantly portrayedAt its core, The Sword of Kaigen is a story of love between a mother and her son, a story of irreversible loss, a story of redemption from a troubled past, and a story of survival for those you love M.L Wang s use of magic system is seamless integrated in story, allowing for awe inspiring scenes throughout the book Each cast of families have different magical abilities , that allow the control of snow, wind and fire Their magical abilities create an organic feel to everyday life and the battles For instance, the Matsudas are able to master the Whispering Blade , a sword made of snow that is so pure that it can cut through virtually any object, including steel Awesome I was blown away by the unrelenting,and brilliantly written action scenes M.L Wang s prowess as a writer is in full display during the action scenes I completely agree with other reviewers, that thought the unbelievable battles with sword martial arts and magic, are very similar to Sanderson s brilliant writing The zenith of the narrative comes at the 40% and 70 75% mark , and it will leave you breathless The Sword of Kaigen is a masterpiece in standalone fantasy storytelling The narrative and characters are so powerful and emotionally charged and the M.L Wang s writing is so personal , that I was moved and inspired in the end This is why I love reading 10 Brilliant Stars I am so incredibly thankful to have made some wonderful book friends, and to be able to blog with those friends about the books we read Whether we love the book or hate it, we re going to share our opinions with each other Often we polish up our opinion and make it as tactful as possible before sharing it with the world through our reviews, but behind the scenes we get to share exactly how we feel with each other, no matter how raw our viewpoint Because of these backstage experiences, I know when a book truly blows one of my friends away, what book makes them struggle for words strong enough to express the love they have for it The Sword of Kaigen is one of the best examples of this, and not one but three of my co bloggers absolutely adored it with their entire being, so much so that they had trouble finding the words I can t think of a stronger endorsement than that And I m thrilled that their love for this book is now one thing that we share Better to die sharp in war than rust through a time of peace Because my friends love this book so much, I have to admit that I approached it with trepidation My interested was piqued by the setting, so radically different that the medieval Europe esque setting of so many fantasy novels The Sword of Kaigen s setting closely resembles Japan, and blended tradition and modernity in a way I ve rarely experienced The magic system has been compared to that of Avatar The Last Airbender, and that is a solid comparison however, there was a freshness to the utilization that made the magic feel original I love the implications of fire and ice and wind being both a part of everyday life and also weaponized for battle Most strong things are rigid If you are water, you can shift to fit any mold and freeze yourself strong You can be strong in any shape You can be anything This was a slow burn for me When I first started reading, I had a bit of trouble keeping all of the units of measurement straight, especially those related to time That being said, I really appreciated the fact that Wang didn t use measurements I was familiar with because, once I caught on, these inclusions helped me immerse myself in the story Also, climactic scenes happened when I least expected them, which was a fun change of pace Power was born into a person and lived in the wordless depths of their soul The strength of a bloodline wasn t something you sang about it was something the holder knew and others witnessed I don t want to really get into the plot of the characters, because this is a hard book to discuss without inadvertently spoiling something However, I m going to make one exception and talk about Misaki, who is one of the most complex, well developed, unique heroines I can remember encountering Misaki is not a young woman She is the mother of four, and wife to the second son of a very traditional noble family When she married, she buried her past and tried to lose herself in motherhood, but was never able to connect as deeply as she expected When unforeseen dangers threaten her way of life, Misaki has to decide if she ll retain the role she s been given or let herself reclaim her true identity I was blown away by Wang s characterization of Misaki, and the deftness with which she wove together motherhood and the other aspects of Misaki we gradually discover Wang never lets us forget that Misaki is not the same person she was as a teen, either mentally or physically, and I was insanely impressed by how well balanced she was written I truly empathized with her internal struggle, and with her feelings of worthlessness She was tangible to me Wholeness, she had learned, was not the absence of pain but the ability to hold it There is one chapter in particular that was one of the most heartbreaking, epic, brutal, joyful things I ve ever read I actually went back and read the entire chapter over again, which just isn t something I ever do There was character development for a secondary character in the span of this chapter s scant few pages than some main characters are given over the course of multiple books in a series It was absolutely incredible I cried And got chills And frantically texted Petrik and TS and Ha fa I ve never read anything else quite like it Let s be older when we meet again Not just in years Let s be better, and wiser, and brighter next time Another thing I have to point out is that The Sword of Kaigen is a standalone, which is such a rarity in the fantasy genre It s also Wang s first novel outside of the YA genre If you haven t noticed by this point, I was absurdly impressed I couldn t have loved this book I think that anime fans are really the target audience here, but I think this is a book that would surprise and enthrall just about anyone who picks it up However, do be aware that this book is unapologetically brutal I had to take a break after multiple chapters because I emotionally couldn t handle any But it was so worth it The Sword of Kaigen will cut your heart to the quick And even when you re reading through tears, you ll never wonder if it s worth the pain You can find this review and at Novel Notions Wholeness, she had learned, was not the absence of pain but the ability to hold it M.L Wang s The Sword of Kaigen is a book that is full of surprises It initially appears to be set in a 19th century east Asian society, but there are chapter 1 references to video games, holographic cell phone images, and wireless internet Although technology isn t at the forefront of the story, it does exist, and plays an important but minor role in the story More surprises are in store while progressing through the first half of the book, as the reader is led to believe that this will be an action heavy, high fantasy epic of escalating battles, vengeance, and heroes rising from the ashes This is not the case There is indeed a large scale battle that is foreshadowed early, but it quickly morphs into a compelling series of character studies framed around a flawed family struggling to stay alive The back half of the book explores this family s journey of self discovery as they recover from tragedy, a haunted past, and an uncertain future.There are other relevant themes that mirror our current society, as state run news and propaganda are used as tools to influence public opinion without revealing what s really happening in the surrounding world There is an outside character named Kwang who serves as a proxy for the reader, as he possesses advanced technology and is aware of government propaganda, yet has little real knowledge of the quiet, hidden culture the story is set within.There is a substantial learning curve to the book as the author refrains from explaining the many foreign terms inherent to Kaigen and its surrounding cultures There is a glossary for those who wish to understand as much as possible I count myself among this group but it is also possible to get a sense of how things work via context clues I do recommend taking the extra time to explore the glossary as it provides a strong foundation to why certain things happen the way they do Wang asks the reader to give a little extra effort get the most out of the story, and it feels like an achievement once you understand the slang terms for certain relatives, the various types of elemental powers, the religious customs, and many other nuances All of this adds up to a rich, deep, and fully realized world that is a joy to explore.However, there were certain passages that were excruciating to absorb One chapter, The Shelter, is so well written and disturbing that it felt like I was suffering similar horrors to what the characters were experiencing This is one of Wang s strongest assets as a writer she is skilled at connecting the reader with the harrowing experiences of its characters as they are dragged through traumas and painfully raw revelations It is admirable how Wang exemplifies great strength in crafting these vivid descriptions out of such severe emotional moments It is always impressive when a writer like Wang willingly volunteers themselves to empathize with such difficult mindsets and translates these experiences into print form Another theme that helped elevate this story is how realistic it treats the arcs of its characters There was one insufferable character that I could not stand for twenty six chapters, but by chapter twenty seven I somehow found myself understanding them There is a redemption arc, but it s not something that is shoehorned into a few pages, with all lessons learned and tied up with a bow Instead, Wang ensures the reader that these characters will not better themselves overnight, but rather their path of redemption has just begun There is a long way for these people to go, and it shows It is a realistic and rare depiction of character growth that strongly resonated with me.There is a lot to love in this story plenty of inventive action scenes featuring elemental powers and incredible swordfights Even impressive is the focus on the effects of these acts of violence on those unequipped to handle the lessons they teach Themes of memory, loyalty, bravery, and what it means to be married and a parent all play major roles in driving the narrative The Sword of Kaigen feels like several books in one, combining breathless action with a deep understanding and exploration of the human condition While this isn t the first of the Theonite stories Wang has written, it is the first adult oriented high fantasy story that takes place in this visionary world I hope it is not the last.8.8 10 The Sword of Kaigen delivers the kind of fantasy you did not know you needed, and leaves you wanting If it s not on your BEST OF 2019 list, you must not have read it yet THIS BOOK It is the surprise of the year for me, up to now It should not have been Petrik did tell me to read it TS loved it too All my other friends who have read it since have loved it And yet it still surprised me with it s AWESOMENESS I should have read it sooner, but you know how it is sometimes books just get lost on the mountainous elephant that is your TBR list So having just finished a book, there I was on Twitter, browsing around when the book cover popped up Why not I thought, making a spur of the moment decision right there to jump the list and read The Sword of Kaigen next I am so smart sometimeshigh fives self and makes a mental note to reward self with a new bookThe blurbs do a pretty good job of explaining the basic premise, so let s not taint them with my ramblings, other than to say JAPANESE MILITARY FANTASY JAW DROPPING ELEMENTAL MAGIC DEVASTATING BATTLES SCINTILLATING SWORD FIGHTS Got your attention Great Now forget those things, because while all those things are present, there is another something which elevates this book to magical That something else is the thing that many of us readers cannot do without, and it makes or breaks a book Compelling characterization ML wang has written characters with such depth and humanity, that had the plot completely flown out of the window, I might not even have noticed, so engrossed was I And there are a bevy to choose from I mean, we have Mamoru And Takeru And Takashi And Setsuko And you have no idea who I am shouting about Ok, let s backtrack slightly the book takes us to a place called Takayabi whose inhabitants have for centuries been responsible for protecting their small corner of the Kaiganese empire from its enemies While this is no small task, the warriors are exceptional unrivalled in their fighting expertise and also wielders of deadly elemental magic, they are a force not to be trifled with At the head of this village, stands the Matsudas, of whom Misaki and Mamoru Matsuda are the two main characters we follow This noble house is well known for being without peers in terms of sword fighting, and their almost mythical bloodline technique called the Whispering Blade is a legend all on it s own As young Mamoru, son of Takeru Misaki Matsuda grows up in this peaceful and isolated place, learning to fight and master The Whispering Blade, he tries to figure out his place in the world Takayabi is steeped in lore and tradition, and there are very clear expectations of him But his foundations are rocked to the core when he meets an outsider and the possibility comes to light that much of what he believes may be a lieYou learn over time that the world isn t broken It s just got pieces to it than you thought They all fit together, just maybe not the way you pictured when you were young The path Mamoru follows as he grows and learns is a joy to behold, and the way the author has written it is something else that elevates the story Often times we are told to believe that characters have evolved from a to b, without having spent the time or effort validating the change for us readers, but here it is not the case, and character arcs are well thought out and believable There is a particular character I loathed throughout If you have read the book you are in no doubt as to whom I am referring He inspired many a stabby thought The word irredeemable might not be strong enough, and yet I was shocked to be proven wrongslow clap The most significant example of the sublime characterization is reserved for Mamoru s mother Misaki, the outright star of the show She is a housewife, bound by tradition and duty to play the role she has been assigned Obedient, subservient, loyal She is so much though The ways she has grown from what we get to see of her in the past to present, the choices she has made Misaki is probably one of the best female characters I have ever had the pleasure to encounter on the page To say nothing may be a huge injustice to the complex characterization captured, but it is also a huge favour to you future reader, for I would prefer you to experience this masterful portrayal for yourself Misaki by Coralie Jubenot merwild While the characters are the lifeblood of this story, that s not to say that this fascinating world Wang has built lacks for anything I know almost nothing about Japanese culture, their way of life, as I have had little exposure to any of it apart from my love of martial arts, but this little microcosm of an age gone by mixed with a fantastical world is just another added element that helped to cast a spell on me The only thing I struggled with slightly was learning all the unfamiliar foreign words used throughout the book I did not realise that there was a handy glossary in the back until a friend mentioned it, and by that point I was a fair way through the book already The glossary made it easier, but it was a mission going back and forth on the Kindle I have since learned that there is a downloadable pdf on the author s website, so rather grab that if you can Eventually though, I did learn most of the words and and was able to read without worrying if I was missing something, adding just another level of immersion for the eastern setting And even with the learning curve it felt like I had barely picked the book up before story had transported me, bringing that magical whoomph of a rush that you get when a story just whisks you away You re with me, right One minute you re getting a feel for it, yes, this is fascinating and entertaining and how did we end up here, this is the ending, WHEN DID THIS GET SO AMAZING Woah. Did ML WANG just get a new fan Yes, yes she DID. Takeru by Coralie Jubenot merwild Lastly, it would be very remiss of me to forget to mention the explosive action sequences filled with exhilarating and creative elemental magic, the breathtaking duels and the cutthroat sword fighting that makes up much of the action packed second half of the book And when the dust settles and the frantic drumbeat of your skewered heart wanes, the story eases you into a denouement that fittingly takes it s time in assuring you of the final outcome, the future ahead and the power of empathy Take a bow dear author, for you are a storyteller, and The Sword of Kaigen is a tale, beautifully told. My jaw is on the floor.Sometimes lightning strikes from a clear sky I d never heard of this author before, but indie publishing means giving each other a helping hand from time to time, and to cut a long story short, I found myself committed to at least trying to read this book.I found myself inhaling what must be one of, if not the best self published books I ve ever read It stole my breath, put actual tears in my eyes, and had me cheering aloud This is not something that often happens to me To put things in perspective, over the last 12 months I ve logged 126 books on Goodreads I ve awarded only 7 of those books a 5 star rating and only 2 of those were fiction and they were both re reads of Dorothy Sayers detective novels.Folks, I adored this book There were scenes after which I kind of had to put it down and fan myself and wait to recover from the sheer molten awesome before I could go on You HAVE to read it.I ll be honest, I was impatient through a few parts of this book, especially the first third and final tenth ML Wang has done an incredible job of world building a magic system and a fantasy world closely resembling our own Far East, and sometimes she seems a little enamoured of that world building This book is sometimes a little heavy with history lessons, comparative mythology, flashbacks to characters who don t have a sizeable role in the story, and sequel hooks to other books I haven t read those other books, so I wasn t invested in the cast of characters crossing over from those books So, this is definitely not a book without flaws.But the good was so, so, so good.The writing style Wang can write, and she s equally good with intense action scenes whew the ACTION scenes as she is with psychological character stuff As it happened, I was reading Crazy Rich Asians simultaneously with this book and switching from Wang to Kwan was like grinding gears every time.And the action I loved how grounded and vivid it was The magical aspects were woven seamlessly into an evidently good grip of human physicality and martial arts You can tell that everything about this book comes from detailed research and a formidable knowledge bank, and I just have to take off my hat on that score.But the PLOT Sometimes books start out slow and you wonder if they ll ever get good, and then pow, they do, and you re grateful for the groundwork laid earlier in the book because it means that when things finally do start to Happen with a Vengeance, they are happening to people you care about It s like all this pressure has been building up under a lid, and then boom a mighty explosion That s what this plot was like And it stole my breath away Of course, to pull off something like this, you need really great characterisation And this book has that too I usually enjoy side characters than I do protagonists, but Misaki was just wonderful I loved that she had the backstory of a rebelliously snooty YA heroine, all about breaking the rules and having the romance with the guy from the wrong side of the tracks and fighting crime by night, and then for Reasons she chooses to give it all away and take the aristocratic match and become the meek little housewife and have babies and never talk back to her husband and her journey is all about trying to put those two equally valuable, equally flawed halves of herself together again To have those contradictions in one character, heck, even just to have a sword wielding heroine who is also a grand multigravida who s seen better days physically, wow The other characters were great too I was always pulling for Takeru, but that s all I m going to say about him but Misaki was my absolute favourite And then there were the themes Oh my wordIt had never properly occurred to her before that moment, but perhaps the thing she found most attractive in men had never been power It had never been danger It was bravery THAT S RIGHT, GIRL.There is honestly a LOT in this book It s about a woman with a complex relationship toward the gender roles in her world she s been both a rule breaker and rule keeper and she s seen the benefits of both But it s also about an epic war looming with a mysterious foe which is mysterious because the Empire is keeping things mysterious so as to make itself look good The most fascinating thing in this book, to me, was the deft and convincing portrait of the natural link that exists between statism and patriarchalism.In conclusion I can t tell you how much I loved this book It has everything you want in an epic fantasy cool swords, cool powers, stiff upper lipped aristocrats, ancient sword skills, evil empires, plucky villages, heart wrenching tragedy, slow burn romance, awesome men, mighty women, massive fight scenes, and BABIES. &Epub ⇟ The Sword of Kaigen ↿ 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 AllWhen 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 LiesMisaki 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 This book Thanks to Petrik for raving about it I just finished it and full on 5 First of all this is a standalone And deeply beautifully characterdriven I loved the emotional depth you got to know the characters So well written and believable It focusses mostly on Misaki who is a strong woman in a man dominated culture The things she goes through are heartwrenching The plot has some flashbacks to her teenage years as well It flowed over nicely And getting to know her strengths and weaknesses made me fangirl so hard Next to her pretty much all the characters have strong roles and are well fleshed out To see them all struggle when war arrives was intense and shocking And the continuous growth by forced choices and survival with our MCs was breathtaking Hope I am making sense hahaha What also really excited me was the japanese influences and words thrown in I recognized a few from all my anime experience The magic was elemental, the area it takes place shapes water And there are cultures who control fire wind etc They are called theonites and stronger than an average human Experience wise.def one of my favourite reads ever The year is nearly half over and previous to this book I ve had three books that have earned 5 s out of the 93 books I ve read 2 of those were Malazan re reads The third Faithless was a round up and close call between a 4 and a 5 This book joins the rarest of shelves my beyond 5 start shelf The book blends traditional Japanese military with a modern aspect that s still drawing from an epic fantasy tradition Some of the characters are young but to call this YA in any manner would be wrong I actually shelved it as Grimdark because the pain of the characters is real and painful to the reader The middle two thirds of this book is simply actioned packed and yet it s all about the characters Their motivations, fears, trauma, pain and especially their grief The author does an amazing job of presenting grief and the rawness it presents to those faced with it The other aspect I loved was how the ebb and flow of the magic was coupled with the ebb and flow of the characters emotions and their core disposition She builds amazingly complex family dynamics from all view points Husband and wife, parents and child, the impact grandparents had on how those parents parent their own children There s also so much of the Eastern Culture nuances Best representation since Long Price Quartet An Autumn War or Inda series All the body motions, the heritage and again it all flows into the magic With currently 208 ratings this is the standalone if the first book I m going to actively advocate for since Manifest Delusions Beyond Redemption which had an underwhelming number of reviews once Best new book of the year Help support this self published author I look forward to reading her trilogy in this world.