F. C. Yee’s The Rise of Kyoshi delves into the story of Kyoshi, the Earth Kingdom–born Avatar. The longest-living Avatar in this beloved world’s history, Kyoshi established the brave and respected Kyoshi Warriors, but also founded the secretive Dai Li, which led to the corruption, decline, and fall of her own nation. The first of two novels based on Kyoshi, The Rise of Kyoshi maps her journey from a girl of humble origins to the merciless pursuer of justice who is still feared and admired centuries after she became the Avatar.
The Bookish Bro Says
After the-movie-that-must-not-be-named was released, Avatar: The Last Airbender fans, myself included, have found it difficult to accept new material based on the show. ATLA is perfection in our eyes as avid fans and we want to keep it that way. So it was understandable that I was hesitant to try and read The Rise of Kyoshi because it is essentially a prequel of the animated series; it is going to be touching elements of the ATLA universe that my avatard self just does not want to be ruined. Plus, it’s written by an author that I have never heard of before… so you can imagine how conflicted I was about the book. I wanted to learn more about Kyoshi but I was also afraid it would taint the original series. But after a bit of research and words of comfort from one of the original creators of the animated series, Michael Dante Dimartino himself, I chose to risk it.
And, let me tell you, from one avatard to another, that it was one of the best decisions I have ever made as an ATLA fan. F.C. Yee BLEW. ME. AWAY.
It was basically a whole new season of Avatar with Kyoshi as the main character. There’s a whole new Team Avatar to fall in love with, earth-shattering displays of all four bending styles, heart-melting romance, unexpected twists, tricky politics (hello Earth Kingdom), and mind-blowing reveals! This book has got the Avatar formula down pat, and F.C. Yee’s writing style helps immensely in making this book come alive.
I could gush about how perfect this book for hours but I’ll enumerate my top four reasons as to why I loved this book. (Four, to represent each nation. lolnotreally)
This book was dark. I did not expect it to be dark, but it was, and I LOVED it. There’s a lot of personal loss portrayed in the book (I cried a lot of times) and there are descriptions that are a bit graphic, especially if you dive into this book thinking it’s going to be tame like the animated series. Fair warning: there are bending scenes in the book that would never, EVER be aired on Nickelodeon.
But I think that’s why I fell in love with the way Yee wrote this book. I’ve grown up (a lot) since I first watched the original series so, in a way, it’s a bit refreshing to see the Avatar universe in a more “adult” kind of light, especially since the main character is Kyoshi and we know she’s one badass avatar.
Unique and new bending styles. I have to admit that I am a sucker for all the bending battles in the series. I loved Legend of Korra mainly because there were some pretty awesome bending battles in that show. The book introduces new bending techniques that weren’t shown in both ATLA and LoK. For a prequel book, this is important because fans know how bending has evolved from the beginning to the present time of the ATLA universe. I won’t describe these new techniques, though, so as not to spoil you!
Avatar lore has been expanded, in a good way. Of course, the book revolves around the life of Kyoshi, but we also get a glimpse of Avatar Kuruk’s life and a lot of information on how the world of Avatar was shaped.
I especially loved how Yee managed to make everything legit. There were no holes (as far as I’m concerned), everything was airtight. As a huge fan, this was very important for me.
AND FINALLY, NUMBAH FOUR
A band of characters you will immediately be attached to. The avatar-verse is chock full of memorable characters that know how to worm themselves into your heart and Yee’s book is the same. I mentioned above that we get a new Team Avatar to fall in love with. This one is distinctly different from Aang’s team and Korra’s team but you’ll fall in love with them all the same.
And no Avatar series is ever complete without a compelling and well-written antagonist. The Rise of Kyoshi provides us a slew of interesting antagonists, both minor and major ones, with surprises and twists galore!
Most definitely a WOW rating. This one exceeded expectations, and then some. Yee and Dimartino really hit the ball out of the park on this one and I CANNOT wait to get my hands on the second book (because, surprise surprise, cliffhanger).
If you are an Avatar fan, DO NOT PASS THIS BOOK UP. I beg of you. Do yourself a favor and order this book, NOW, or I’ll blood bend you to do it! (Plus, there are sky bisons!! Who can resist sky bisons?)
F.C. Yee is currently the author of THE EPIC CRUSH OF GENIE LO. He will hopefully be the author of more YA books in the future.
Michael Dante DiMartino is an American animation director, author and best known as the co-creator, executive producer, and story editor of the animated TV series Avatar: The Last Airbender and The Legend of Korra, both on Nickelodeon.