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[Book Review] "The Rise of Kyoshi" by F.C. Yee (with Michael Dante DiMartino)

The origin story of Earth Kingdom-born Avatar, Kyoshi

By Meg IlsleyPublished 2 months ago 4 min read
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SYNOPSIS:

The longest-living Avatar in this beloved world’s history, Avatar Kyoshi established the brave and respected Kyoshi Warriors, but she 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 Avatar Kyoshi in the Chronicles of the Avatar series, 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.

GENRE: Fantasy, YA

PUBLISHED: July 16, 2019

RECEPTION: Positive (4.8 on Amazon; 4.45 on Goodreads)

CONTENT WARNINGS: drugs/alcohol/tobacco (underage use), mild language, mild sexual content, mild-moderate violence

REVIEW:

The Rise of Kyoshi is a 2019 novel set in the universe of Avatar: The Last Airbender, an animated television series created by Michael Dante DiMartino and Bryan Konietzko, and released on Nickelodeon. The story follows the titular Kyoshi, the Earth Kingdom-born Avatar (and one who lived for considerably longer than she ought to have - a plot point that is addressed, albeit subtly, in this story) as she learns she is the Avatar and has to navigate what that means, as well as the betrayal of someone close to her (and the death of two others close to her), and learning about her past and who she is. It is a well-written story that doesn't fail to deliver on its promises and presents a well-rounded character adapted perfectly from what we see in the series.

Michael Dante DiMartino's involvement in the story is clear.

The Rise of Kyoshi is a fast-paced story at times, that could benefit from slowing down in some areas (and speeding up in some unnecessary ones), but it is a beautiful origin story for a character who raised so many questions in the animated series. From the very moment Aang and his friends arrive on Kyoshi Island and meet the Kyoshi Warriors, it is obvious there is a lot of backstory there, and this continues as Kyoshi is introduced more throughout the series. The Rise of Kyoshi does a good job of setting up Kyoshi's character and showing events that brought the titular Avatar to a place where she could become the person she was in the series, and where she could do the things she did.

However, the story is just that: an origin story. For the majority of the first act, it is not obvious to the characters Kyoshi is the Avatar (a revelation that kicks off the rest of the story), and those going in looking for events described in the animated series will not see them here. The story ends right as Kyoshi begins training properly to become the Avatar, with most of the action coming as a result of her identity being discovered by Jianzhu - an Earth Bender Master who wants the noteriety that comes from being the Avatar's teacher. However, that is not to say it's not a good story; it does exactly what it sets out to do and it does it well, which is all one can ask.

I do believe the story would have benefitted from considering its storylines and plots a little more, however. For example, the reveal about Kyoshi's parents - while important to her character and the people she associates with - seem to have minimal impact as a result of Kyoshi herself having gone through her acceptance of it some time ago. It gets some screen time, and she does question herself, but it is almost brushed over. The same goes for her bending flaws. Perhaps more of this is discussed in the sequel, The Shadow of Kyoshi, but it would have been nice to see the impact of these events on Kyoshi and her development, and if they were not important, to have them removed.

Another plot point that seemingly comes out of nowhere and goes almost nowhere is the relationship between Kyoshi and Rangi. While I adore their chemistry and I think having LGBTQ+ representation is a good thing (and Kyoshi in the television series, while not openly lesbian, was certainly portrayed in a light that suggested it), I think there was some disservice done to their relationship. Instead of building it up over time, it is hinted at once and then it happens, and it can be a little jarring, especially as the way Kyoshi reacts to another character's death makes it feel as if she was interested in them instead. Hopefully, The Shadow of Kyoshi will see this relationship expanded upon more and will build them up in a more satisfactory light.

Overall, however, The Rise of Kyoshi was a beautiful origin story that does its job in setting up the person who would eventually become Aang (two reincarnations later), and it is nice to see aspects of her personality that travel to Aang and Roku when they come after her, highlighting that the Avatar is one spirit in multiple bodies reincarnated.

FINAL RATING: 4.5 Stars

PURCHASE: Available on amazon.ca, amazon.com, and in all major bookstores.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR:

F.C. Yee is a Young Adult author known for his stories the Epic Crush of Genie Lo and the Iron Will of Genie Lo, as well as the first four Chronicles of the Avatar novels (the Rise of Kyoshi, the Shadow of Kyoshi, the Dawn of Yangchen, and the Legacy of Yangchen). Lee is of Korean and Chinese descent and has stated the "F" in his name does not stand for anything. He likes to tell people it stands for "football club".

Review
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About the Creator

Meg Ilsley

Born in Australia, I moved to Canada in 2013 where I live with my four cats and two snakes. I have a Certificate in Creative Writing, am pursuing a Diploma of Graphic Design, and am an amateur author. Find me on Goodreads or Instagram.

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