Title: The Rise of Kyoshi
Author: F.C. Yee
Rating: Five stars
“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.”
Who’s driving this thing?
Kyoshi! Have always loved the name, but after reading this book it now has a lot more meaning. I love this girl. Kyoshi is a teenage girl abandoned by her parents as a young child on the island of Yokoya. When she is taken in by Kelsang, an Air Nation monk and given a job as a servant to the esteemed Avatar Yun, she no longer has to beg for scraps or steal.
Kyoshi is a lovely girl by nature. Guided by justice, patient and in the beginning, a little submissive, she is a quiet person who considers herself lucky to live the life she leads. Though she is an earth-bender (has the ability to manipulate the earth), she struggles to use her power.
By. The. Way. Kyoshi is also a LGBTQ+ character!
What’s this all about?
If you have seen Avatar: The Last Airbender and/or it’s sequel Avatar Korra, you’ll know exactly what this world is all about. If you haven’t, allow me to explain:
The world of the Avatar is a fantastical world divided into four nations: The Fire Nation, the Earth Kingdom, the Air Nation and the Water tribes. The Avatar is reincarnated every time they die and is the only person who can control all four elements.
For years, the world believed that young ex-swindler Yun was the Avatar but after an encounter with a dangerous spirit, Kyoshi learns that she is the Avatar. Friend of the previous Avatar, Jianzhu, has trained Yun for years but upon learning he is not the Avatar, allows Yun to fall prey to the spirit and kills Kelsang, Kyoshi’s beloved mentor.
Furious with Jianzhu, Kyoshi flees with friend Rangi, to escape him and his sphere of influence. Unfortunately, well connected and powerful Jianzhu proves harder to flee from than she would like. Struggling to learn her powers, Kyoshi falls in with her parents old gang, the daofei, in the hope that they can help her get revenge for her fallen friend, and mentor.
What’s so great about it?
Everything. There were moments my heart stopped in this book, it kept me completely engaged and desperate to keep reading.
Kyoshi is an incredibly relatable character in the sense she is shy, contemplating her worth and place in the world. When she needs to rise to the occasion, she does, despite struggling with her abilities, and she works hard to overcome those difficulties.
I felt a bond with all the characters, which ended up in a broken heart towards the end. (No spoilers, but seriously, big feels.)
I loved the LGBTQ+ elements of this book which were portrayed in a wholesome way and though there were some heart-stopping moments, it was truly a great element to the story and to Kyoshi’s character development.
The Rise of Kyoshi is a really well written book and I couldn’t recommend it enough. Avatar fans, if you haven’t read it already, read it! Non-Avatar fans, read it anyway!
What’s not so great about it?
I’m going to give this question a hard pass.
This book was so amazing, it’s earned The Secret Library Recommended Reads seal! Author F.C. Yee probably doesn’t need reminding how awesome they are but I’m still going to award them and The Rise of Kyoshi this seal, if nothing else to announce that I absolutely loved this book.
Where can I get it?
When I first bought this book as a pre-order, it was only available in hardback. I had no problem with that as the hardback is gorgeous. A little over a month after The Rise of Kyoshi was released, it’s also now available in paperback on Amazon, but there’s still no sign of an e-book format.
I recommend the hardback which is really reasonably priced considering the amount that most Avatar fans would have paid for it.
Thanks for reading!