Title: Smoke and Shadow
Author: Michael Dante DiMartino, Bryan Konietzko et al.
Genre: Fantasy/graphic novel
Rating: Five stars
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Smoke and Shadow is the fourth library edition graphic novel following the adventures of Avatar: The Last Airbender TV Show. The first three really set the bar for the quality of these novels but Smoke and Shadow absolutely blew them out of the water. This story was amazing!
This novel follows Zuko, the Fire Lord, as he attempts to track down the rebel group determined to overthrow him. Worse still, a fabled group of spirits, the Kemurikage, have descended on the residents of the town and started abducting all their children.
Zuko, Aang and Zuko’s ex, Mai, are determined to rescue the children and bring the kidnappers to justice. However, Zuko, still unsure in his position as Fire Lord and craving Mai’s affections once more, is conflicted as to the kind of ruler he is. With rebels denouncing him at his door, his insecurities are hammered even more.
Some old enemies resurface in this book and I have to say, hands down, Smoke and Shadow is so far my favourite graphic novel in this series. The character development is spot on, the story is fast-paced and full of suspense and the romantic tension is the cherry on top.
In each novel, you can see every character aging just a little more and it’s a great feeling to watch them growing up. For kids still in their teens, they have a lot of battles to fight but they take it in their stride and do what they do best.
My favourite part of this book was definitely Zuko’s character development. In the TV series, Zuko struggles a lot with anger and rash decision making. Even in the graphic novels before this he has a war waging inside him. Although he wants to do the right thing, Zuko is rarely sure how to achieve this goal and believes he has a choice between force and compassion. Very often, it is achieved with a combination of the two and in Smoke and Shadow, he appears to truly learn this lesson.
I’ve already done book reviews for the three previous graphic novels, The Promise, The Search and The Rift all of which are incredible stories and I couldn’t recommend them more. Particularly if you’ve watched the TV series already. If you haven’t yet, it’s on Netflix – prepare to have your mind blown!
Thanks for reading!