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The Sword of Kaigen


4.45  ·  Rating details ·  4,454 ratings  ·  1,155 reviews
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
Kindle Edition, 651 pages
Published February 19th 2019 by M.L. Wang
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M.L. Wang Not at all! While SoK takes place in the same universe as the Theonite Series, it is a standalone story with its own self-contained plot.

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Jan 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: The Poppy War & Asian-inspired military fantasy fans
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ARC provided by the author in exchange for an honest review.

5 stars from start to finish for this exceptional Japanese-inspired military fantasy standalone. As of this moment, The Sword of Kaigen has become not only one of the four best self-published books I’ve ever read, but also my personal number one favorite self-published book.

This is one of those books where I just want to write “Please buy it and read it. I
chai ♡
find this review & others on my blog

The Kusanagi Peninsula bred warriors, and not just any warriors, but the fiercest that ever were. Years of defending the Kaigenese Empire against its foreign enemies earned the province the nickname “the Sword of Kaigen”, and enshrined it as deeply as any truth whispered to the gods before an altar.

Fourteen-year-old Matsuda Mamoru wants to claim his legacy as the son of the most eminent warrior family in the Kusanagi Peninsula, but it is too hot to th
Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
Jun 20, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ by: Mayim de Vries

Holy shit!!!!!!!!! I can’t!!!! I’m having a damn panic attack I’m so hyped up on this damn book!! Someone run over and buy me the paperback!! This is going on my shelf, I don’t just want the kindle. I’m getting it in July!!! And I missed out on all that swag 😫. Damn it all to hell!! I’ve actually had this book on my kindle for awhile but like most things kindle it takes awhile. But, when I started out with the book, I couldn’t get into it. I was on crack apparently but my sweet friend tol
Mark Lawrence
Congratulations to M.L Wang - The Sword of Kaigen is the SPFBO champion for 2019 with the joint-highest score in the contest's 5 year history (from ~1,500 books!)

Find out more here:

Well, this was excellent. My favourite SPFBO champion so far.

Wang is a highly skilled writer with a talent for bringing her characters to life, making them feel vital, unique, real. She very quickly invested me in the lives of the families around which this story revolves.

It tak
Aug 13, 2019 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to Hamad by: Petrik
This Review ✍️ Blog 📖 Twitter 🐦 Instagram 📷

“You learn over time that the world isn’t broken. It’s just… got more pieces to it than you thought. They all fit together, just maybe not the way you pictured when you were young.”

★ I have to agree with the quote above, the pieces of this book fit together perfectly! You can’t understand the crazy expectations I had for this book and yet it was able to blow me away! I have some bold confessions: Best Self-published book I ever read, Best Fa
Mayim de Vries
Feb 03, 2020 rated it it was amazing
“We are the Sword of Kaigen. If we’ve let it rust, then we deserve to die on it, along with our enemies.”

…It is 3:27 AM and I finished reading the book. There are 73 people among my friends who want to read it too. If you are one of them, do this today. If you are not—do it anyway.

I don’t think enjoyment is an apt word to describe my experience with The Sword of Kaigen. It took me a while to compose this review because even now I do not know how to put together a coherent sentence that could po
TS Chan
Mar 09, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Every fantasy fan
Recommended to TS by: Petrik
Simply phenomenal. A true masterpiece. 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 favou
Apr 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites, fantasy
5 Stars (Masterpiece)

‘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 fro
Nicholas Eames
Sep 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A masterpiece, plain and simple.

I can see some people being thrown off by the pacing (the action peaks about halfway through the book), but this is an incredible study of character, and so beautifully written.
Sep 22, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: spfbo-2019
*A book I read for #SPFBO as a judge and which I quickly fell for as a fan*

**Trigger warning: Rape, Abuses of various kinds, Violence, extreme War.**

Onto the full review:

This is a story set in an icy landscape on a mountainside. The book draws heavily on Asian culture and there are many parallels with Japanese training and family structures, and this is something I think has been done very well. For a frozen mountain at the end of the Empire this spit of land is home to some of the most prolific
Daniel B.
Feb 28, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A step in the direction fantasy should be headed in. Outstanding with a structure that will raise eyebrows. I cannot promise everyone will love it, but everyone obsessed with fantasy should read it.

Full review here:
Eon ♒Windrunner♒
Jul 30, 2019 rated it it was amazing
The Sword of Kaigen delivers the kind of fantasy you did not know you needed, and leaves you wanting more. 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 g
Jan 04, 2020 marked it as to-read
this looks like... everything.

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Vibur (hiatus)
Nov 11, 2019 rated it really liked it
Recommended to Vibur (hiatus) by: Petrik
There is something indescribably beautiful about The Sword of Kaigen.

I loved the writing—the simplicity of its prose, sharpened into something so piercingly poignant. Sadness and anger, hurt and frustration stream through the pages of the novel—vibrant shades and subtle hues of feelings that wash and sweep over you, the colours diffusing into your soul.
And at the heart of this novel was Misaki. Her character was so real, woven together from the threads of longing, loneliness and regret. She was
4.5 stars
It was the teeth of winter. It was poetry. It was God in water.

Absolutely incredible. Truly, a stunning and affecting effort from a previously unknown author that now has my full attention.

M.L. Wang: "I’m alive to write this story because, in 1937, in a Jiangsu Province village outside Nanjing, a Japanese bullet missed my great grandmother when she bent down to get a cooking pot. Certain events in The Sword of Kaigen harken back to the Nanjing Massacre, holding true to the guiding
Jun 16, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: 2020, fantasy, favorites
Best book I read in 2020.

I haven't reviewed this book and I don't think I'll do it justice even if I tried to, but all I can say this book was amazing. I loved that it's told from two point of views: a mother and her son. It's also standalone which is very rare in this genre. I rated only 3 books 5 full stars this year (and another was rounded up from 4.5 to 5). Sword of Kaigen was also memorable and something I'd consider rereading in the future. I know I'll be reading any new book M.L. Wang wr
Spencer Orey
Dec 06, 2020 rated it it was amazing
A great focused character study of an epic fantasy book. A bit slow at times, but with great feeling throughout. I could tell it was a standalone spinoff, but that never got in the way.
Jul 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
Wick Welker
Jan 10, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Stunning. Tragic. Raw and Beautiful. This Japanese high fantasy blends realistic characterization with a well conceived magic system resulting in a compelling story with incredibly fleshed out characters. There’s nothing like this out there.

The Sword of Kaigen will not be what you expect. At the onset Wang lays down some exposition, albeit with a little tedium. Slowly, the reader learns some names, some backstory a little lore about the world. Once you become hooked by the realism of these chara
Deborah Obida
May 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommended to Deborah by: Petrik
If I could give this book 10/5 stars I would. It's fresh, unique, interesting and unpredictable.
This book is one of those that has everything, I never expected this to be this good even though Petrik told me it was. This book has magic, family, war, politics, friendship and marriage, the marriage and family is what surprised me more about this book.

This book is Asian inspired military fantasy,the battle happened only in a day but the aftermath is what made this book the masterpiece that it is. T
Holly (The GrimDragon)
“You learn over time that the world isn’t broken. It’s just… got more pieces to it than you thought. They all fit together, just maybe not the way you pictured when you were young.”

Originally released in monthly installments to newsletter subscribers, The Sword of Kaigen is a self-published Japanese-inspired military fantasy with a meaty plot. To help, there is a character listing and a glossary at the back of the book. I've been burned before, realizing too late that something I was reading con
Michael Sliter
Sep 07, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Such a fantastic book. Thanks to Petrik, Holly, and Eon, among others, for influencing me to read this story. Tell me what to read and I will read it, oh leaders of the literary world.

Rather than summarizing the plot points, which others have done more competently than I could, I am going to talk about what resonated with me. As a psychologist, I love exploring motifs that tread into that forbidden territory. I don't think this is really a spoiler, but probably my favorite part was a mother exp
May 16, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: kindle, favorites
"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 do."

M.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 bo

Spoilers and mentions of sexual violence and suicide follow.

“You learn over time that the world isn’t broken. It’s just…got more pieces than you thought.”

So What’s It About?

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
Sep 04, 2019 rated it really liked it

Boring and predictable.

Not the book, though, but my review. I join The Sword of Kaigen fan club and I plan to force anyone listening to try it. I won’t lie, I hoped I would identify its unforgivable flaws and enumerate them to show how insightful I am. I did find some, but they didn’t stop me from loving the book.

The Sword of Kaigen introduces memorable and relatable characters and throws them into disastrous conflict with a powerful enemy. Kusanagi Peninsula, renowned for its unstoppable
Mar 04, 2019 rated it it was amazing
“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 thr
Feb 05, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy, rating-pg-13
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
Brenda Waworga
Sep 04, 2020 rated it it was amazing
What an intense and so emotional impactful this story is!! never a dull moment, i love it from page one until the end

This is a very character driven book and Wang did amazing job woven all these characters, i easily feel so attached to them! there are 2 main characters in this book:

- Mamoru, a 14 years old boy.. he is trying so hard to live as the Matsuda legacy and trained to be an amazing warrior like his father Matsuda Takeru
- Misaki a mother of 4 boys who is a former criminal crime fighter
Graeme Rodaughan
Mar 29, 2020 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: Anyone who loves a brilliantly realised story with striking emotional depths.
Recommended to Graeme by: Mayim de Vries
The divinities of Love and Agony stared at each other across an abyss of utter darkness. The divinity of Agony asked with the barest shred of hidden hope, "Shall we embrace?" The divinity of Love answered with eyes welling with poignant sadness, "Yes." The divinity of Agony pleaded, "Can you hold me?" The divinity of Love answered with a voice that bridged the abyss, "Yes," - and it was enough.

This is Misaki Matsuda's story. This is her journey of unveiling her true-self against the back drop of
So, this was an utterly beautiful and gut-wrenching book. I loved it so much and I’m so very sad I finished it so soon.

The element I always love the most in a fantasy book is the worldbuilding, but I have to say that even though this book does an amazing job creating a believable culture, strong traditions and mindsets, my favorite aspect of this story were the characters: everyone, without any exception, was so well-written, so real and flawed I thought I was reading about real historical figu
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Hi, I'm M. L. Wang, writer of sci-fi & fantasy, winner of Mark Lawrence's 5th Self-Published Fantasy Blog Off (SPFBO).

I'm rarely on Goodreads, so if you need to get in touch, please see the contact page of my website:

Other books in the series

Theonite (3 books)
  • Planet Adyn (Theonite, #1)
  • Orbit (Theonite, #2)
  • City of Ghosts (Theonite, #3)

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“You learn over time that the world isn’t broken. It’s just… got more pieces to it than you thought. They all fit together, just maybe not the way you pictured when you were young.” 32 likes
“Wholeness, she had learned, was not the absence of pain but the ability to hold it.” 25 likes
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