“Kyoshi’s place as the true Avatar has finally been cemented—but at a heavy cost. With her mentors gone, Kyoshi voyages across the Four Nations, struggling to keep the peace. But while her reputation grows, a mysterious threat emerges from the Spirit World. To stop it, Kyoshi, Rangi, and their reluctant allies must join forces before the Four Nations are destroyed irreparably. This thrilling follow-up continues Kyoshi’s journey from a girl of humble origins to the merciless pursuer of justice still feared and admired centuries after becoming the Avatar.”
-Synopis from Goodreads
I’m going to fully admit that I didn’t remember much about The Rise of Kyoshi when I started this book. It had been a whole year since reading it, and I was fuzzy on the details. But, once I started reading The Shadow of Kyoshi, everything came flooding back to me.
Short take: This was a perfect follow-up to the first book and once again, I really think that Avatar: The Last Airbender fans will enjoy it.
In the last book we learn about Kyoshi’s childhood and how she came to be the Avatar. In this book, we get to see how Kyoshi embraces some of the aspects of her new life, while rejecting others, and how she handles one of the biggest crises she will face as the Avatar. This book is really about Kyoshi embracing who she is during this formative time in her life.
A few things I loved
The Spirit World was very closely tied into this book. The story could easily have been focused on Kyoshi settling a dispute within the fire nation, but disturbances in the Spirit World added another element in the background that doesn’t surface and come together until almost the end. The chapters alternated between what was going on there and in the Four Nations which really upped the suspense for me. I personally have a love-hate relationship when it comes to the Spirit World and found Father Glowworm to be actually terrifying. The episodes of ATLA and LOK that involve the Spirit World are the ones that stick out the most in my memory, and I’m sure I’m not the only one who feels as strongly about it! It’s fascinating but clearly very dangerous, too, which we see in this book.
I was surprised at first to see that Kyoshi struggled with connecting with her past lives, even though this seems to be a common thread with the avatars when they first start out. Kyoshi craves guidance, particularly from Avatar Yangchen, but she knows she has to connect with Avatar Kuruk first, who was the Avatar before her. When she does connect with Kuruk, the clarity that he brings to the present day situations that Kyoshi is facing ultimately helps her more than she could have ever imagined. It also clears up some of the mystery surrounding Kuruk’s time as the Avatar. When Kyoshi does finally connect with Avatar Yangchen, their encounter nearly brought tears to my eyes; what a moment!
Kyoshi is so much more awkward than I remembered but it makes her an endearing character to me. Everyone on this version of “Team Avatar” is so dedicated to helping Kyoshi but they don’t always agree on how best to do that or advise her. I also just really loved Kyoshi and Rangi, both individually and together, and Rangi’s mom, Hei-Ran. I think the chapters with the three of them were my favorites. I loved how strongly they feel for one another, but how difficult it is for them to express it because of their Fire Nation upbringing, and of course, all of the bickering. Everytime Hei-Ran said “Young lady!” to Rangi it had me cracking up.
As you can tell, I really enjoyed this book. I would love to see a TV mini-series staring Kyoshi, but I don’t know if that will ever happen. I could honestly read as many more graphic novels and novels about other Avatars, including Kyoshi, as F.C. Yee, Michael Dante Dimartino and the other creators are willing to make. I will never get tired of this world!
Goodreads rating: Five stars