The Sword of Kaigen is a Character-Driven Fantasy with Maybe the Best Set Piece I’ve Ever Read

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.’

The Sword of Kaigen is a standalone fantasy novel set in the same world as M.L. Wang’s Theonite series.  Check out last week’s guest post from Wang on the research she did for the main series.

The Sword of Kaigen is 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.  Structurally, though, the novel is a bit jarring, which is my one quibble.

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Valentine’s Terror – Duel Visions Out Now!

Weird fiction anthology Duel Visions is out from Cirsova Publishing today! And don’t forget that there is still time to enter the Every Day Should Be Tuesday giveaway for Cirsova no. 10.


Duel Visions Out Now!

Duel Visions, Misha Burnett and Louise Sorensen’s anthology of weird tales, is out today.

Also, be sure to check out this interview Misha and Louise did with Scott Cole at Castalia House.

front cover only jpg

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Nonfiction: Robert the Bruce: King of the Scots by Michael Penman

Medieval history is an extraordinarily rich source for fantasy writers, full of adventure and suspense and lots of blood. Unfortunately this academic book on Robert the Bruce manages to make that stuff sound dull.

Hillbilly Highways

As I mentioned in my post on Braveheart and Outlaw/King, the history of the Scots-English border region is the history of hillbillies.  There is no Scots-English border region, and thus no distinctive culture for David Hackett Fischer to catalog, without a Scotland to provide one side of the border.  And there is no Scotland without Robert the Bruce.

Braveheart features the Bruce in a bit role that is only a little bit historical.  Outlaw/King is centered on the Bruce but, like most accounts, it only tells the tale of how he won the realm, not how he kept it.  Penman’s account’s primary selling point is that he devotes as much attention to the Bruce’s post-Bannockburn career as to what happens before.

Sadly, Penman falls into the academic history trap of sucking all of the tremendous inherent drama out of his narrative.

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Guest Post: Letters From the Past by The Sword of Kaigen Author M.L. Wang

I am delighted to be hosting another rare guest post today.  M.L. is the author of the Theonite Series (comprised, thus far, of Planet Adyn and Orbit) and The Sword of Kaigen.  The Sword of Kaigen is out in one week, and I will have a review up on release day.  I finished it last week and, believe me, you’re going to want to read this one.

The Sword of Kaigen is set in an analog to Japan.  The tech is essentially modern, but the protagonists are distinctly old samurai.  The story is a character-driven heroic fantasy with one hell of a tent-pole battle set piece.

I have only read The Sword of Kaigen, but I gather that it is a standalone loosely linked to the Theonite Series.  Where the setting of The Sword of Kaigen is inspired by Japan, the setting of the main series is inspired by Africa.  I asked M.L. to write a little about the research that went into the main series.  A common problem to non-Western settings: a lack of good English-language sources.

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Throwback SF: Cirsova no. 10 Giveaway!

Cirsova magazine remains the best thing happening in retro SF today.  I am way behind in my Cirsova reading, but that didn’t stop me from picking up issue number 10.  Or from picking up five copies of Cirsova issue number 10.  Obviously that is an amount of love I need to spread.

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January 2019 Month-in-Review

There ain’t no month like Vintage Science Fiction Month.  I took full advantage of the five Thursdays in January and published five Vintage SF Month posts: a guest post on “Shambleau” and “Black God’s Kiss,” a review of Alec Nevala-Lee’s account of John W. Campbell’s editorship of Astounding, a review of Heinlein’s Space Cadet, and reviews of collections of short stories by Isaac Asimov and C.L. Moore.

Speaking of Thursdays, though . . .  Guys, I’ve got some bad news.

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Vintage Science Fiction Month: Northwest Smith by C.L. Moore

Hither came Northwest Smith, the earthman, sunburnt skin, paled-eyed, in spaceman’s leathers, a pirate, a smuggler, a gunslinger, facing life and death with an equal grin, to tread the back-alley bars and lost ruins of the solar system heatgun in hand.

Northwest Smith is one of C.L. Moore’s two great early creations for Weird Tales.  But where her Jirel of Joiry was straight sword and sorcery, Northwest Smith traverses Venus and Mars in spaceman’s leathers.  He may have been an inspiration for Han Solo, but Northwest Smith definitely would have shot first.  As he was walking in the door.  Northwest may have as much in common with Jirel as he does Solo.  This isn’t Campbellian science fiction, or even space opera.  Northwest barely sets foot on a spaceship in-story, and the stories are thick with fantasy and horror elements.  (The similarity to Moore’s Jirel stories also provide her Northwest Smith stories with their biggest weakness.)

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