Sword of Kaigen Book Review
Genre: Asian Myth and Legend, Sword and Sorcery Fantasy, High Fantasy, Epic Fantasy
Tropes: Marriage of Convenience, Magical War, Sword Lore
First off, if you enjoyed Avatar the Last Airbender or the Demon Slayer anime, then you will definitely enjoy this book.
The narrative is split between the perspectives of Misaki, a mother struggling to come to terms with her past as a powerful fighter, Mamoru, her fourteen-year-old son who is eager to become a warrior like his ancestors; and Takeru, Misaki’s husband, who is blind to the imminent danger that threatens their empire.
One of my favorite things about this book was Misaki, the mother. Mothers are typically underappreciated characters in fantasy or “Plot Device Dead”. It was so refreshing to actually see a mother with such a rich and complex story. It’s rare to see a fantasy novel that focuses so heavily on the relationships between parents and children, and I think that’s one of the reasons why this book feels so unique. Also getting the perspective of both the mother and the child is a stroke of genius, as it adds another layer of depth and authenticity. The exploration of mother-son relationships is unforgettable, speaking deeply to the rewards of motherhood without shying away from its risks.
This book is not for the faint of heart. It tackles some weighty themes, including the human cost of war and the dangers of blind loyalty. The action scenes are visceral and beautifully choreographed. There were times I had to set it down because my heart was beating so fast.
Sword of Kaigen is a hidden gem, and I really hope it gets more attention.
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.
Up Next: This Woven Kingdom Book Review