Damn I have to say that my own continued negligence of this blog has caused me to miss some golden opportunities to flex my own knowledge. As a notoriously successful gambler (yeaaaaaaa right) I would have bet the house on M.L. Wang’s The Sword of Kaigen taking home the illustrious SPFBO award. In fact I am pretty sure I said exactly that on the greatest fantasy and sports podcast of all time, the Swords and Sports podcast. What’s crazy is that it was the only book at the time I had read on the finalists list. Some things just check off so many boxes you know they are going to be successful. Want to find out my deep thoughts on it? Or more embarrassingly listen to me mispronounce M.L. Wang’s name for an hour (once again Miracle I am sorry). I also butcher about 20 different names as well. It’s a god damn riot so listen up.
Click here for the cure to mesothelioma. Whatever that is. Unless you are dumb that is a link to the podcast. I feel like for some reason I need to make that clear.
The Sword of Kaigen is essentially a two part story. The first half of the book is a kind of coming-of-age tale of Mamorou. Mamorou is the son of Takeru Matsuda, the head of the island of Kaigen in some dictatorship. He is trying to learn how to use his magical abilities, create a whispering blade, and live up to his families reputation. Throughout this he slowly learns things about the government and the world as a whole that shatters his previously held beliefs. He struggles with this obviously, and his struggle actually awakens something in his mom, Misaki. She was formally a university student and accomplished fighter/vigilante with a very well-rounded education. She does not buy what the government is selling. Through marrying Takeru though, she has lost a significant portion of her identity as she has assumed the traditional backwards gender role of the village and her husband has done his best to stifle her personality. The the Rangenese come and there is this fucking awesome battle that kills everyone, including Mamorou.
The second half of the book is kinda Kafka Metamorphisis like. Meaning that without Mamorou every seems to be doing much better. Misaki and dickhead Takeru learn how to actually fucking communicate which leads to them growing as a couple. Through rebuilding the village they both grow as people and start to rebel against the government, who are trying to cover up the battle. Then a robot blows up.
This book is chad to the max. Read it, it’s fucking excellent. Listen to the podcast, it’s fucking mediocre. Bonus I will include some of the podcast outline. Thats how you lure emmmm in. I think.
Three things I like
- The sword names. I am a sucker for the names of swords some of the best names in this book are Takenagi, the Bamboo Cutter,
Yukinos sword: Takenagi, the Bamboo cutter
Takeru: Kyougetsu; The Moon SPire
Uncle Takashi’s Nagimaru, Namimaru
Misaki: “This is Shadow’s Daughter.” Siradenyaa
Mamorou: Mamoriken,” he nodded to the sword, “the Protector.”
- The bloodline techniques. This is a thing I am learning plays a big role in asain martial arts, I am sure there is a long history of bloodline techniques throughout real history. But bloodline techniques were also featured in Kuangs “The Poppy War” and since these are the only two asain fantasy books I read, I assume this is a real thing. Here are some:
Lazou Linghun a fonyaka bloodline technique, wherein the fighter vacuums the air from their victim’s body through the mouth, collapsing their lungs, meaning ‘Soul Pull’ in Rangagua.
Sasayaiba: Whispering blade which is obviously the the Matsuda bloodline technique. The master Matsuda formed his weapon by compressing several billion water molecules to a thin blade through sheer force of nyama, creating ice as hard as metal and an edge the width of a single molecule. Mamoru always managed to catch other things up in his water—some iron particles, some dirt, some salt, some air bubbles—that weakened his ice and caused it to shatter under pressure.
Blood Needle a jijaka bloodline technique unique to the Tsusano family, wherein the practicioner takes control of a small amount of the blood inside their victim’s body and freezes it in the shape of needle, which is used to strike pressure points or pierce vital organs, called ‘Chihari’ in Shirojima Dialect. This can be used to create blood puppettry which leads to complete control
- The magic users. They are described as theonites and it seems like there are three types
- Jijakalu: theonites with the ability they manipulate water/ice, some abilities include creating ice spears to launch of fight with, freezing and unfreezing your feet to stabilize you which can be used to climb building, and doing the fucking laundrey which is the best use of power ever
- Fonyakalu: theonites with the ability to control air, can be used to create some fucking crazy ass tornado
- Tajaka: a theonite with the ability to control fire. Mad fucking useful to boil water. Make ramen in two seconds.
- littigi.” “A what?” “A type of sub-theonite,” Misaki explained as she came to stand over the man. “They look like powerless adyns but they have the ability to manipulate light to create illusions. I knew a few in Carytha.” But what the Hell was one of them doing here?