WELCOME TO THE SWORD OF KAIGEN BLOG TOUR hosted by yours truly, in partnership with M.L. Wang!
Follow the tour to know what bloggers think about the book, see creative contents, and win a copy!
Title: The Sword of Kaigen
Author: M.L. Wang
Publisher: M.L. Wang
Publishing Date: February 19th 2019
Age Category & Genre: Adult High Fantasy
Synopsis: 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 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.
M. L. Wang was born in Wisconsin in 1992, decided she wanted to be an author at the age of nine, and never grew up. She got her Bachelor of Arts in history in 2015 and currently works at a martial arts school in her home city of Madison.
When she isn’t building worlds on the page, she builds them in her aquarium full of small, smart fish that love to explore castles and don’t make noise during writing time.
I cannot believe it’s November already and that #TheSwordofKaigenblogtour is finally here! The Sword of Kaigen is one of my favorite reads of the year. And yep, it’s really hard for me to shut up about it.
In case you missed it, I have also recently hosted two other blog tours, for Crier’s War by Nina Varela and A Thousand Fires by Shannon Price. For both of these tours, I wasn’t able to write my reviews because ya girl ‘s plate is full and she just wants to throw it all against the wall to be over with everything. Just kidding (or not).
Anyway, I also wasn’t able to write my review for this book even though I have read it almost 2 months ago and I have a very messy 5-page notes containing my thoughts, feelings and reactions about this book. Honestly, I can’t still gather my thoughts. And my last thought about it which I posted on my Goodreads, remains true: I’M SPEECHLESS LOL.
But, I have more interesting content to share with y’all to celebrate the launch of this tour! Today, I have a guest post from M.L. Wang herself who wrote about writing fight scenes. And I have another one further below which I know you will also enjoy.
So, without further ado, I hope you’ll have fun reading the post below, as well as the others coming up on the next days from the tour participants!
Happy reading! ❤
To open here, mountains of thanks to Karina for reaching out to me and putting so much time and love into planning this blog tour! I’ve had so much fun working on it and I hope everyone else has too.
Writing Fighting: Action as Character & Conversation
by M.L. Wang
“Power was born into a person and lived in the wordless depths of their soul. The strength of a bloodline wasn’t something you sang about; it was something the holder knew and others witnessed… Real power needed no words. It spoke for itself.” – Matsuda Misaki, The Sword of Kaigen
The Sword of Kaigen was the first martial arts story I’d ever written. By ‘martial arts story,’ I mean that most of the main characters are well-trained fighters and combat is an integral part of the narrative. I’ve always harbored a vague annoyance at the way the media treats martial arts, but it wasn’t until I was deep into work on The Sword of Kaigen, worrying if my action scenes were engaging enough, true to the art, true to the characters, that I started to analyze that annoyance from a craft perspective.
Most books, movies, and TV shows treat fight scenes as flashy filler between the intellectual meat of the story. This can work fine in a story about non-martial-artists, whose main mode of expression is not action. And it makes sense considering that most stories are written by, well… writers, people who express themselves through words, not combat. I don’t say this to slight the word-oriented thinker. I am one.
Prior to The Sword of Kaigen, I mostly wrote point of view characters who were not practiced in martial arts and were, like me, more academically inclined. Action scenes in those stories consist of clumsy blurs of motion, impact, and sensation that affect the plot but don’t themselves develop anyone’s character. They don’t have to, because that burden falls on the dialogue, reading, and research scenes appropriate to a non-combatant point of view character.
I had been doing martial arts for over a decade before I glimpsed the strange landscape of a fighter’s brain—what, to my writer’s brain felt like madness—a place where physicality dominated and words disappeared. Good martial arts writing is, I think, an exercise in translating that wordless experience back into words, not glossing over it to get to the ‘real story.’
Fonda Lee, author of The Green Bone Saga, discusses media’s problems with martial arts in her article, “Martial Arts & Fantasy – More Please, But Better,” which I highly recommend to anyone at all interested in martial arts fiction. The line that really resonated with me was Lee’s insistence that “In martial arts stories, the action scenes are character scenes” because it perfectly articulates one of the most daunting goals I carried into The Sword of Kaigen.
Since the protagonists of The Sword of Kaigen are all adept martial artists, I knew going in that the most important character development scenes in the book would have to be fight scenes. Whether that fighting took place in routine training, formalized duels, or the pandemonium of war, the major characters would have to physically engage in order to understand themselves and each other. Because The Sword of Kaigen is not a story about bookworms, academics, or oral traditionalist jaseliwu, who resolve their issues with words. It is a story of koronu, fighters of great feats and few words. For their development to take place primarily through dialogue would have been disingenuous.
The strategy I landed on, after months of trial and error, was to treat the action scenes of The Sword of Kaigen not just as ‘character scenes’ but as conversation. While your average street brawl might not carry more meaning than ‘I don’t like your face,’ a fight between skilled martial artists is an exchange with as much nuance and energy as the snappiest dialogue. This wasn’t something I understood until I was actually proficient at martial arts myself (not to say that you have to be a martial artist to grasp it; I’m just a slow and tactile learner). For years, sparring was an anxiety-inducing, no-fun nightmare for me, but it abruptly became engaging—and ironically, one of my favorite things—the day I realized that I had gotten good enough to converse with an opponent. Fighting, I learned, is like language; it’s more fun when you’re fluent.
As I discovered that I liked sparring, I took that language metaphor, ran with it, and started approaching my action scenes like dialogue scenes. Every fight scene, I decided, should be treated as a conversation, and every move made should be treated as a line spoken. Most editors will tell you that if a line of dialogue doesn’t justify its place on the page—if it doesn’t provide new information, reveal or reinforce a personality trait, shift the balance of power between characters, force a decision or introspection, diffuse or escalate tension, or just make the reader feel something—it gets cut. By holding every strike, step, and stumble to that standard, I hoped to create fight scenes full of character.
I don’t know if I succeeded. All I know is that, like sparring, those swordfights became more fun for me when I turned them into dialogue. I hope they’re fun for readers too.
Oop. There’s more! Find out which is your The Sword of Kaigen katana by taking the quiz below! I got Siradenyaa and that is my favorite character’s katana so I couldn’t be happier!! ❤
Enter below to win a copy of The Sword of Kaigen! This giveaway is open internationally and sponsored by M.L. Wang. This will end on December 11, 2019.
Have you read The Sword of Kaigen? Did you enjoy it? What’s your favorite adult high fantasy book? Share your thoughts below!