The Sword of Kaigen (a Theonite War Story)

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“Fantasy and martial arts aficionados alike should enjoy this emotionally supercharged novel about love and loss, which pierces readers’ hearts with the precision of a samurai’s razor-sharp blade.” – Blue Ink ★ Starred Review

“The Poppy War’s darkness meets The Last Airbender’s elemental magic… I haven’t been so emotionally moved by a book in a long while.” – JC Kang, USA Today Bestselling Author of The Dragon Songs Saga

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.

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?

A rich elemental magic system and deep world-building make this martial fantasy perfect for fans of R.F. Kuang, Brandon Sanderson, Leigh Bardugo, and Lian Hearn.

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The Sword of Kaigen on Goodreads


More About the Story

The Sword of Kaigen is a military fantasy that takes place thirteen years before the events of Planet Adyn and Orbit in the Shirojima region of the Kaigenese Empire. It is a standalone novel, meaning that you do not need to have read the Theonite books to appreciate it.

This novel originated as a serialized story that I released to my newsletter subscribers in monthly installments. When I realized that it had overgrown its bounds into a novel longer than Orbit, I decided to complete the story and publish it ahead of the newsletter installments.

Unlike the younger-skewing main Theonite Series, The Sword of Kaigen falls firmly into high fantasy territory, dealing with more difficult themes and subject matter through older POV characters. I don’t like to impose restrictions on anyone’s reading but I would not recommend SoK to readers under the age of sixteen.


What reviewers are saying

“Tonally reminiscent of Lian Hearn’s bestselling Tales of the Otori saga… Although this is a character-driven tale, Wang complements the well-developed cast with immersive world-building, brisk pacing, and a fluid, richly described narrative. Also of note are the well-choreographed fight scenes, which – in lesser hands – can easily become mechanical and lose intensity. Wang’s fight scenes are fast-paced, clearly described, and exciting. The Sword of Kaigen is an utterly readable novel and the perfect starting point for Wang’s Theonite saga. Fantasy and martial arts aficionados alike should enjoy this emotionally supercharged novel about love and loss, which pierces readers’ hearts with the precision of a samurai’s razor-sharp blade.” – Blue Ink ★ STARRED REVIEW

“This companion novel to a YA series tells the story of a mother and son caught up in a shadow war… Wang’s (Theonite: Orbit, 2017, etc.) novel mixes sci-fi technology with the martial arts lore of East Asia to create a fantasy realm that is intricate and original. When Kwang puts on the school uniform for the first time, he says (winkingly): “I feel like I’m in one of those old samurai movies… It’s like I stepped through a portal back in time.” The book’s mythology is dense and takes some getting used to – readers familiar with the author’s previous Theonite volumes will likely have an easier time – but this inventive story of a warrior family is self-contained enough to be enjoyed on its own. A complex but highly imaginative fantasy tale.”  Kirkus Review

“The Poppy War’s darkness meets The Last Airbender’s Elemental Magic… I haven’t been so emotionally moved by a book in a long while.”  JC Kang, USA Today bestselling author of The Dragon Songs Saga 
 
“Complex societies and an unique magic system make The Sword of Kaigen an engaging work of high fantasy… compelling and rife with magic and heartbreak.” – Foreword Clarion
 
“To say that this book was thrilling is an understatement. I’m not joking. The Sword of Kaigen is one of the most intense books I’ve ever read. I gritted my teeth, I clenched my fist, and I was constantly breathless. Wang knows how to write catastrophic elemental magic and implement extraordinary heart-hammering scenes very effectively… If you’re a fan of The Poppy War, read it. If you’re a fan of military fantasy, read it. If you’re a fan of high fantasy, read it!” – Petrik Leo, Novel Notions ★★★★★
 
“I can say that since reading Stephen King’s Wizard and Glass a few years back – I haven’t been so affected by a story as I was by this one, or so emotionally invested in characters as these, that I cried through a good twenty percent of this book… Misaki’s journey is raw and painful but it’s also fulfilling and beautiful. As a mother, daughter and wife – her every fear, joy, and regret, resonated with me, and I applaud her characterisation. Without her this would have been a great book with some very cool fight scenes (I’m still in awe over the Matsuda brother’s Ice Dragon) and a good solid base for a later series. With her though – it became an outstanding piece of storytelling that needs to be experienced, and one that is going to stick with me for a long time.” – Jennifer (BunnyReads), starlitbook.com ★★★★★
 
“My jaw is on the floor… 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… 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.” – Suzannah Rowntree, Author of Pendragon’s Heir★★★★★

“The finest example of standalone fantasy fiction I have read in years… a spectacular epic with… truly cinematic battle scenes, a unique and fascinating magic system, and a plot that pays off with huge emotional impact. If you haven’t picked this one up yet, what are you waiting for?” – Calvin Park, Goodreads Review ★★★★★

The Sword of Kaigen feels like several books in one, combining breathless action with a deep understanding and exploration of the human condition.” – Adam Weller, Fantasy Book Review ★★★★★
 
“… one hell of a damn book. Why read fantasy if you don’t like fighting? Wang’s ice-magic wielding, old fashioned samurai give us one massive, book-defining set piece. But The Sword of Kaigen is a deeper work as well, with the characterization and the action each complementing the other.” – H.P., Every Day Should be Tuesday
 
“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.” – TS Chan, Novel Notions ★★★★★★