Well…where do I start? How about when I first heard about the book.
So, I first heard about TSOK on Twitter where it was getting a lot of rave reviews from people. The book had won the Self Published Fantasy Book Off Award from Mark Lawrence’s prestigious competition. As soon as I heard that this book was doing well I was interested.
It was actually included in my ‘Top 5 Asian Fantasy Books I Need to Read’ video and I was genuinely excited to get it.
I head to Amazon and see the book is over double what a normal paperback is since it’s self published and I was like, “Yes it’s more expensive but it’s so good so it’s worth it” or so I told myself. The book arrives and I dived in.
The SOK has some really really cool features. It has an elemental type of magic that involves water, fire and even elements such as sound. The first main character, Masaki is interesting and she has a really cool backstory. She is betrothed to a man she didn’t necessarily want to marry. She is moved to an ‘old’ part of the world and lives in Kaigen where there are mainly dojo’s, training, zen, very much the old world of Japan.
Kaigen is the part of the country that faces Ranga where the enemies, the Ranganese live. This makes Kaigen the Sword of the land because it faces the enemies and this makes the name, The Sword of Kaigen.
The second main character is her Son, Mamoru, and he is more interesting of the two, and a better character for me I felt. He is currently 14 years old and in training to learn the legendary ‘Whispering Blade’ method which means he can produce a blade out of water molecules. The blade is super strong and sharp, think Wolverine’s adamantium claws.
Misaki has a hidden past which is dangerous and Mamoru is in training to eventually face the inevitable attack from the Ranganese. This sets the book up for a great story and it does build it up slowly.
The problem with this book is that the pacing is off and the descriptive texts fill the majority of the 600 pages. I found myself trawling through descriptions to get to the next part of the story that was moving forward. I found myself at times having to skip pages, which I never do, just to get through chunks of information.
The pacing, as I mentioned, is off the mark. The whole story climaxes around page 380. This leaves 200 pages of aftermath. The whole huge battle against the wind using Ranganese nation is completed about 60% of the way into the book. This for me is the biggest problem. What should have happened is that the book should have been say, 450 pages and then you have a much smaller wrap up, a neater book and you could remove a lot of the descriptive text.
Before I get blasted for this, I’m not saying this is a bad book. It is a well written story and has beautiful descriptions of water and snow and emotions. The problem is it’s too much. The book sells you on an elemental war and then gives you chunks of description.
For me, the book falls flat because it’s too big, there is too many blocks of text, the parts that were awesome aren’t there enough and the parts I thought were boring were extended. It climaxed early and then I stopped caring about Misaki because she essentially was an idiot not following her heart and putting herself through a life of regrets.
Did not finish!