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Blade's Edge

(Chronicles of Gensokai #1)

3.96  ·  Rating details ·  191 ratings  ·  75 reviews
Mishi and Taka live each day of their lives with the shadow of death lurking behind them. The struggle to hide the elemental powers that mark the two girls as Kisōshi separates them from the other orphans, yet forges a deep bond between them.

When Mishi is dragged from the orphanage at the age of eight, the girls are unsure if or when they will find each other again. While
Paperback, 310 pages
Published January 23rd 2015 by CreateSpace
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Popular Answered Questions
Virginia Yes, but only as a minor subplot and without a HEA or even HFN.
Traitor's Hope (book 2 in the Chronicles of Gensokai) contains major romantic subplots…more
Yes, but only as a minor subplot and without a HEA or even HFN.
Traitor's Hope (book 2 in the Chronicles of Gensokai) contains major romantic subplots for all the main characters. (less)

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Average rating 3.96  · 
Rating details
 ·  191 ratings  ·  75 reviews

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Jan 16, 2020 rated it liked it
Shelves: spfbo-2019
*I read this as a judge for the #SPFBO as this is a 2019 finalist*

This story is one which appeals to a lot of things I love. We have a set up inspired by mystery, myth, and ancient Japan. There are feudal warriors, earth spirits/elements, and more.

We follow two characters, Mishi and Taka. These two are orphans and they are best friends as children. Each of them has their own powers, but they have to hide them in a world where the women and girls can't be seen to have strong magic.

There are two
kartik narayanan
Dec 17, 2019 rated it liked it
The Blade's Edge has a lot of things going for it - good, strong women characters, an above average world building and a good pacing. I liked many aspects of it including the strong themes around female emancipation and female infanticide (which is not exactly a common topic in fantasy). While I enjoyed most of the book, I felt that the book was let down by a contrived ending which was not really satisfying. ...more
Mark Lawrence
I've not read this yet but it's been selected as a finalist in the 5th Self-Published Fantasy Blog-Off #SPFBO, so it must be good!

Read more about the contest here:
Jun 27, 2019 rated it really liked it
I like it when authors look for influences further than in an imaginary medieval Europe. I’m not alone, as clearly seen by an increasing number of Asian-inspired fantasy books. Blade’s Edge takes place in a setting strongly influenced by feudal Japan history, traditions, and myths. Kami (Shinto spirits) are real and they influence the world and interact with the living. The magic, based on Zen meditation practices, involves mastery of the elements and requires a solid grasp of inner energy’s wor ...more
Jennifer (bunnyreads)
Feb 11, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: spfbo-5, 2020
A friendship forged during their time together at the orphanage has stayed strong in the hearts of Mishi and Taka. Separated and set on their own paths, they hope to one day reunite. Both girls are powerful in kiso, and face a difficult road ahead as they try to survive in a dangerous and unforgiving time while keeping the strength of their magic under the radar.

We meet the girls when they are together at the orphanage but their stories branch off into different directions fairly quickly when
Stephen Richter
If this book wins the SPFBO 5 contest, I will be one happy reader. This short Fantasy Novel, and please let this be the new trend, hits all the right notes with me. Two young orphan see another dragged away and promises to not let that happen, only it does. What follows is the tale of these two young girls and their journey in a land that does not value them. Great secondary characters and a nicely paced plot made this a joy to read.
Jan 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
The two main characters, Mishi and Taka are both magic users in a world where women who wield magic are considered dangerous. Women are allowed to be healers and midwives, but to be a full-blown Kisoshi is forbidden. It’s believed that women are too weak of character and mind to be able to control magic. Women are “easily corruptible” and will inevitably turn to “evil”. Both characters were raised together in an orphanage but not a lot of time is spent exploring that aspect before they are separ ...more
Jan 12, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
I was given a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review. Firstly, I love the cover: I think it is very cool and reminds me of Robert Jordans' covers which is all a good thing.

It is obvious the book has been professionally edited and properly formatted, which is refreshing in this indie age where too many mistakes can distract from the reading experience. But by far the strongest quality is the writing itself and the central characters of Mishi and Taka, are exceptionally well-dev
Apr 06, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spfbo5
Full review is here, on my blog!~

This is the story of Mishi and Taka, who are orphaned girls and best friends who are suddenly separated from each other when they are unexpectedly taken from their orphanage. Mishi goes to a school for Kisōshi (this means more or less samurai, with magical powers), while Taka goes to another place where women who show kiso, the magical power, are trained to be midwives.

Women Kisōshi are banned in this world by order of the Rōjū council. In fact, women who show an
Mar 15, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: spfbo2019
A finalist in the spfbo 2019.

Well this was wonderful to read, a great coming of age book, with great world building and character development as the story went along. Good well done magic system.

So glad I don't have to pick a winner as the quality is very high so in the finalists I have read so far.

Not sure what is next but don't worry about that till after work this afternoon.
Julia Sarene
This one didn’t hook me right away. I needed to get used to the style and tone first—but once I did, I really enjoyed it! I liked both the main characters and was invested in what would happen to them. The side characters could have been fleshed out a bit more at times, but overall, they were still interesting enough to not feel like they bogged the story down. While I usually prefer a grey character over purely good or bad ones, these felt real enough to still keep me hooked.

I especially enjoye
Mar 24, 2015 rated it really liked it
Blade's Edge (BE) is a genre redefining book. Exploring a world ripe for the picking, BE comes off as a novel out of it's time, but in a good way, creating a sort of mysticism not often seen in today's literary landscape.

Written as a standalone (a whole star for this, given today's Hunger Games drag-it-out Trilogy style), at least it comes off that way, BE could easily be expanded to contain other stories within this universe.

There is so much that takes place off the page, it's easy to see tha
Phil Parker
Feb 11, 2020 rated it it was amazing
There are several books with a 'far eastern' setting, some specifically with Japan. For me, this is the best of the lot. The language and martial arts terminology don't dominate (as one other did and it spoiled the story) yet you capture the essence of the world all the same. I think this is a sign of a skill writer who can employ great subtlety in her storytelling.
In fact, the social and cultural insights into this version of medieval Japan was a massive strength. It drove the central theme of
Joe Jackson
Oct 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Blade's Edge is a fantasy set in a feudal-Japanese style setting, and the first fantasy novel I've read that combines fantasy elements with this particular setting.

I have to say, this book is a success on so many levels. Even readers who may have no immediate interest in Japanese style or culture are well advised to invest their time in its depths. There's a lot of Japanese or pseudo-Japanese terminology throughout, but the author weaves it into the story so seamlessly that after the first coupl
Calvin Park
Jan 30, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy, spfbo-2019
Blade’s Edge by Virginia McClain is a deeply immersive secondary world fantasy that tells the story of two young girls growing up with magic in a world where magic is forbidden to them. The pathos of these characters is communicated so well by McClain, and you feel for them deeply as the story unfolds. The world is inspired by feudal Japan while still maintaining its secondary world status.

The world building and magic are exceptional in this one. The magic is explained well without being over-ex
Queen Terrible Timy
Blade's Edge is one of the SPFBO5 finalists I've read as a judge. Find out what my team had to say about it in our joint review. We gave it an overall score of 7.1/10

Here follows my own review. I personally rated Blade's Edge 7/10 which translates to 3.5*

I have a bit of mixed feelings about Blade’s Edge in general. It took me a long time to get into it and get over my annoyance to actually enjoy it. Blade’s Edge is the story of Mishi and Taka and all the girls in this world who didn’t have a ch
Jason Crawford
Today, I am reviewing the Fantasy story Blade’s Edge by Virginia McClain. This is a story set in a pseudo-Japanese setting and utilizing many of the terms from Japan’s medieval history, but adds several different intriguing elements, like elemental magic, a council dedicated to the repression of a particular subgroup, and dragons and kami.

I give this book a 4.75/5. Here is my breakdown.

Characters: 5/5. Absolute perfection. Virginia’s two main characters, Mishi and Taka, were deep and real. I fe
Ann Andrews
Feb 03, 2015 rated it really liked it
I received a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review.

This is an interesting story that held my attention well. While I had no idea where the plot was going or what was really going on behind closed doors, the two main characters were so well developed that I couldn't help but be fascinated.

A truly unique piece. Highly enjoyable.
chloe ♡
Sep 30, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: review-copy, i-own
I received a review copy from Rockstar Book Tours. Below is my honest review.

When I received an email from Rockstar Book Tours saying they're looking for bloggers to host a book tour for the sequel of this book, Traitor's Hope, I took a quick look at the synopsis - a YA fantasy set in a world based on Japan with two badass female protagonists? Sign me the hell up!

There were no grammatical/spelling mistakes in the book! I have received several review copies with mistakes on almost every page and
Phil Williams
Dec 09, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
This is a solid coming-of-age fantasy that follows the paths of two good friends separated in their youth, each getting separately embroiled in a plot of conspiracy, suppression and magic. McClain has an efficient writing style, and I've seen others' concerns about areas lacking backstory or explanation but I personally felt this moved at a good pace with enough information to never be confusing; even when words weren't directly explained, the context made them clear. But then, maybe it helps th ...more
G.R. Matthews
Read for SPFBO - Review will be on website.

I enjoyed it!
Alysa H.
Jan 02, 2016 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: netgalley
There are many things to like about this book. I appreciate the focus on Mishi and Taka's friendship, even though they spend most of the book apart. There are plenty of great characters, most but not all of them female. There are some romantic elements but they very much take a backseat to the ra-ra sisterhood aspects. That is all good.

Alas, I found this book a little boring, as well as problematic. It's taken me a while to write this review, because I've been puzzling out my reaction. Which is
Oct 16, 2017 rated it it was amazing
“Was it impossible to hide who you really were forever?”

What an incredible book! Blade’s Edge is such a phenomenal story. A fantasy world built with similarities to feudal Japan, but written with such intensity that it mirrors a dystopian novel. I was immediately swept into the enormity of this world and immersed in the beauty and horror of these characters lives.

To be a woman in Gensokai, the island that this story takes place on, is a terrible fate. We don’t know the details, but learn that th
Jan 07, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Blade's Edge is a Japenese-styled coming of age fantasy adventure, in which two young girls must master their mysterious powers and come together to defeat an evil oppressive regime. It moves along at a pleasing speed, introduces a range of characters who manage to be memorable to the reader without labouring the point, does a good job of making hand-to-hand combat sequences work on the page and features an interesting visualisation of magic as "kiso" that helps distinguish it from other similar ...more
Mike Milligan
Feb 23, 2016 rated it really liked it
A tale of Two Girls

Sometimes a little gem slips through and sparkles amongst others almost as worthy. This pleasant read was well presented and well written and I was most impressed with the amount of purported Japanese that was used throughout the whole adventure. As i'm sadly no expert I dont know if it was properly done, but it sounded so real and felt correct and made the storyline come to life and flow even more.. I could write more but there's no need, just read the book and see what I mea
Mar 18, 2015 rated it really liked it
This was a different kind of book for me but I enjoyed it. It was interesting to see how the girls each went different ways and were trained differently. I very much enjoyed each time Mishi woke up from using her fire Kiso the firsthand thing she saw was teeth! I liked Tatsu, such a nice dragon, the end was my favorite part. The uprising and the battle and the friends stood together and won.

Thank you for letting me read your book:)
Nov 29, 2015 rated it really liked it
Girls with skills. I like the book already. I think this book had a great plot and good characters. I think the bond the girls had is a great touch to the book. This book kept my interest so to me that is worth the read. * I received this book from the author in exchange for an honest review*
Dec 12, 2019 rated it it was amazing
I'm not normally a fan of Japanese fantasy, but this book had me hooked from the start. This story will bring you on an adventure that will keep you turning the page. Brilliant, strong female characters and a very interesting world. Virginia McClain is definitely one to watch in future. ...more
Mar 26, 2020 rated it really liked it
Review originally published over at

If Blade’s Edge began a third of the way in, I would’ve loved it. So much of the latter 70% speak to Virginia McClain’s strengths and skills as a writer: she constructs an intricate world, inspired by Japanese culture and society with samurai who wield elemental magic; the conflict that dominates this novel has bearing on the real world; the action scenes McClain writes are excellent, and her characters are likable…after a fashion. Let’s expand on
Kristen Walker
This was a fast-paced read, so much that I kind of wish it had slowed down a little in places to give it some more breathing room. There's a lot of ground to cover with two characters growing up and training their powers so I didn't get as much of the character development in the other relationships. I would have loved more detail at almost any part of the story.

But what is there is excellent. Mishi and Taka are both great characters with a lot of depth and it's fascinating to learn about their
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Virginia McClain is an author who recently stopped daylighting as a Spanish teacher in Arizona and switched to writing full time in Winnipeg, Manitoba. When she's not writing she can often be found climbing to the top of large rocks, running on trails, backpacking, and generally engaging in any excuse to go play outside. Now that she has moved to the Great White North she will probably add snowsho ...more

Other books in the series

Chronicles of Gensokai (3 books)
  • Traitor's Hope (Chronicles of Gensokai, #2)
  • Sairō's Claw (Chronicles of Gensokai, #3)

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