The Sword of Kaigen

About my upcoming novel – The Sword of Kaigen

Hello Dear Readers! M. L. Wang here. With The Sword of Kaigen coming out in two weeks, I wanted to ramble a bit about the setting, characters, magic system, and the general experience of writing a 600-page fantasy.

The Setting

While I went to extreme, conscious lengths to research to the West African cultures that inspired the Yammankalu of the main Theonite Series (2016), that was not the case with this project. The knowledge of Japanese culture that I used to enrich The Sword of Kaigen is something that just happened to me.

My high school didn’t offer Mandarin, so I took Japanese. There was no martial arts club after school, so I took Okinawan drumming. There was no traditional Chinese martial arts school in my city, so I took karate (and taekwondo, which is Korean, but you get the idea). The kids in my high school Japanese class introduced me to anime, my Japanese teacher convinced me to study abroad in Japan, and my drumming group later had my family host several Japanese students. My college had limited African history and literature courses, so I took lots of East Asian-focused courses (again, lots of Japan). You get the idea.

It was satisfying and cathartic to pour all that knowledge into creating a vivid little corner of my universe. However, the act of replicating cultural markers on the page is more of a ‘hey, look at what I know!’ ego-stroke than interesting world-building. By far the most interesting element of the setting was the way in which the Japanese-inspired culture of our main characters interacted with an African-dominated world.

The Characters

The Sword of Kaigen focuses on a mother and son. As we watch each of them grow individually, we also watch them grow closer to each other, and subsequently, to their other family members.

At thirty-four, Misaki is the oldest protagonist I’ve ever written. I won’t go into all the twisted complexities of her character here, but suffice it to say that writing adult angst was a hugely rewarding change from the preteen-to-early-twenties angst that has dominated my work until now.

Mamoru has the restless energy of a typical Western fantasy protagonist, but it was interesting to explore how that would manifest in a confining culture steeped in misguided nationalism. The thing I’ll miss most about writing Mamoru is his enthusiastic engagement with his powers. Our young swordsman boasts as much inherited power as any of the Theonite protagonists but he is more talented (sorry, Daniel), better trained, and brought up in an environment that has pushed his abilities forward instead of holding them back. This gave me the freedom to have him go big, fall hard, and learn fast – a delightful experience I never had with any protagonist before him. Which leads me nicely to our next subheading…

The Magic

This is where SoK got really exciting. As much as I love the main Theonite Series, its heroes are comparatively inept with their powers. If Joan of Theonite gives us the first bumbling first steps into our magic system, the protagonists of The Sword of Kaigen are masters of it. In them, we get to see one particular type of theonite power (that being jiya, the ability to control water and ice) taken to its most intimate and spectacular extremes.

The protagonists of SoK have had decades to fall down, pick themselves up, hone their senses, expand their scope, and work out complex techniques. Where Theonite: Planet Adyn and Orbit are about discovery, The Sword of Kaigen is about the pushing the limits of theonite capability, literally straining the delineation between humanity and godhood. Anything I could dream in water, blood, or ice ended up on the battlefield in this novel (well… with the exception of one or two things I’m saving for later. I decided to wait on the ice shuriken).

I could not have had more fun in this cold and deadly playground.

The Themes

Despite the fun of so much magic and martial arts, I have to confess that The Sword of Kaigen was an emotionally taxing story to write. More often than not, working on it left my stomach in knots and my heart in ruins. Of course, there is an extent to which a work reflects its creator’s mental state, but I’m certain that working on SoK made what was already a difficult year for me that much colder.

The Sword of Kaigen is not a feel-good story with clear antagonists, pure heroes, and easy answers. Instead, it explores the complexities of war – how the individual has to reconcile the flaws in their own culture with still being a part of it, how loss affects communities, families, and individuals. On a personal level, The Sword of Kaigen is about taking responsibility for your own life, facing regret, and surmounting tragedy.

Goodness isn’t embodied here by a nation, a culture, or a political ideology. We forget sometimes that there is powerful good in doing right by the people in your life, and that heroism starts with being good to the people who need you.

For all their godlike powers, no individual in SoK leads a revolution, saves the world, or topples an empire. Their biggest failures and triumphs are not ion the battlefield but in the stillness between each other – in words unspoken, in short touches and glances, and all the small, human things that make them real.

The Sword of Kaigen comes out February 19, 2019.

SoK Sample Chapters / SoK on Amazon / SoK on Goodreads / SoK Artwork

Early Reviews: Novel NotionsBlue InkKirkus

It’s Charity Month Again! Buy a Book to Fight Malaria!

Through the month of December, 50% of my royalties will go to the Against Malaria Foundation!

For newcomers to this site who aren’t awaremy Theonite Series is a YA story in which a team of super-powered misfits fight crime in an African-dominated parallel universe. The world-building of Theonite is heavily based on West African culture (specifically that of the Mande of Mali, Guinea, Senegal, Gambia, Sierra Leone and several neighboring countries). From the magic system, to the languages, to the themes of colonialism, my work owes a lot to West African history and culture. This month, I want to give something back, in the form of donations to a charity that helps save lives throughout Africa (including some of the aforementioned countries).

So, to support African-based fantasy as well as real life African people, pick up a digital or paperback copy of a Theonite book now!

My goal is to reach $200 dollars in donations for the Against Malaria Foundation (AMF), a charity that works to distribute insecticide-treated mosquito nets in areas affected by malaria. 

In the spirit of transparency (for which AMF is applauded), the following is a breakdown of how much will be donated for each purchase:

(Scroll down for international purchasing links – donations will be applied for all Amazon marketplaces)

If you have any interest in YA sci-fi/fantasy, or know someone who might like these books as a holiday gift, now is the time to get them! If Theonite doesn’t seem like your thing, I strongly encourage you to make a direct donation through AMF’s website.

If you are an author interested in donating a percentage of your royalties to AMF or any other charity this December, respond here or make a post about it with the tag #AuthorsAgainstAffliction and I will promote your book in my December newsletter!

Thank you and happy December!

International Purchasing Links:

USABook 1 | Book 2
AustraliaBook 1 | Book 2
UKBook 1 | Book 2
BrazilBook 1 | Book 2
CanadaBook 1 | Book 2 
China:  Book 1
FranceBook 1 | Book 2
GermanyBook 1 | Book 2
IndiaBook 1 | Book 2
ItalyBook 1 | Book 2
JapanBook 1 | Book 2
MexicoBook 1 | Book 2
NetherlandsBook 1 | Book 2
SpainBook 1 | Book 2 

The Sword of Kaigen

The Final Sword of Kaigen Cover Art is here! (ARCs available)

THE FINAL COVER DESIGN IS HERE!

SoK Cover 10-30-18 Half

During November, I will be sending a limited number of advanced reader copies of The Sword of Kaigen (in both PDF and paperback form) to readers interested in providing early reviews.

As of today, I am accepting ARC requests at officialtheonite@gmail.com!

Stuff to know about ARC requests:

  • Due to shipping costs, I am not able to send paperbacks outside the US. However, I am more than happy to send PDFs to international readers (I know, I hate it too, and I’m sorry)
  • Also due to shipping costs, I have a VERY limited number of paperbacks available. If it is at all possible for you to read the book in PDF form, please let me know (it will increase your likelihood of being added to the ARC team).
  • Please feel free to include links to any social media accounts (i. e. Goodreads, Twitter, Tumblr, etc.) where you typically post reviews.

Any further questions? Hit me up at officialtheonite@gmail.com.

Follow this blog or subscribe to my author newsletter to stay up to date on everything SoK – from ARC availability, to giveaways, to pre-order rewards!

Anti-Columbus Day Special – FREE books and bookmarks!

It is generally accepted among people with empathy and a basic understanding of history that Christopher Columbus is not a figure worth celebrating. So, I thought it would be appropriate to celebrate this October 8th with a free promo of my Theonite Series, which takes us to a world free of Christopher Columbus and the European colonialism he represents.

(Also there are superpowers)

Columbus Day Promo 5

But PoC power fantasies aside, an underlying goal in all my books is to highlight the tragedy of colonialism (from the violent evil of genocide to the insidious micro-aggressions of modern-day racism). Ultimately, it doesn’t matter if the oppressor is European, African, Asian, or absolutely alien; there is evil in forcing one culture over another. Rather than preaching these ideas to people’s faces, I hope to explore them in a fresh and interesting way through an African-dominated universe unlike anything you’ve ever seen.

  ★  Get Book 1 FREE  ||  Get Book 2 FREE   ★ 

 

Octbookmarks9-2

I’m also giving away these Theonite character bookmarks absolutely free to any readers who want them!

Octbookmarks2-3

To get the Joan and Daniel bookmarks, all you have to do is answer the following question from Theonite Book 1: Planet Adyn:

What color is the Thundyils’ space pod?

To get the complete set of five featured above (Joan, Daniel, Fiki, Kente, and Izumo), answer this question from Theonite Book 2: Orbit:

Who is the man in the hood?

Don’t give away the answers here! Email your answers to officialtheonite@gmail.com, along with a mailing address, and I’ll send you your free bookmarks!

This offer is only good through November 10th, so get your answers in soon!

Misaki-by-Taratjah

More ‘Sword of Kaigen’ Art!

Hello Dear Readers!

M. L. Wang here, and today I want to share some new SoK artwork from the wonderful Tara Spruit (Taratjah). I’ve always loved this artist’s warm, expressive style, so I was ecstatic to have the chance to commission these pieces.

Tara Spruit has also done wonderful art based on other fantasy series such as Brandon Sanderson’s Mistborn and Stormlight Archive, Sarah J. Maas’ Throne of Glass, and Marissa Meyers’ Lunar Chronicles. If you enjoy fantasy books, I highly recommend checking out her blog and her store.

This art will eventually be part of prize packages in my Sword of Kaigen pre-order giveaway.

Follow this blog or subscribe to my newsletter to stay up to date on SoK giveaways and pre-order rewards, including your chance to get prints and stickers of the artwork above!

New Theonite Merchandise!

Good afternoon, Dear Readers!

Today marks the relaunch of my merchandise store, with revamped mug and t-shirt designs, as well as completely new products like stickers and blankets!

I’ve displayed my own favorite products on the merchandise page here on mlwangbooks.com. To see the full range of products in all their different variations (from the standard t-shirts to weird stuff like cutting boards and bath mats), feel free to peruse my Society6 store.

Theonite art in progress

I’m working on this ludicrously complicated image of the twenty core characters from the upcoming third book in my Theonite Series. Having gotten 20% of the way through, I realized I had all the female youngsters from Book 2 (minus Ayumi and the slightly older upperclassmen).

girls3
From left to right: Bamako ‘Koko’ Kiita, Rajani Allegre, Fikile ‘Fiki’ Zithathwa, and Joan Messi

Their clothing is still lacking some detail, but given how huge the final image is going to be, it might be better to leave it that way.

Get a free copy of Book 1 here!