Book Review | The Rise of Kyoshi

Title: The Rise of Kyoshi

Author: F.C. Yee

Publisher: Amulet Books

Published: 16 July 2019

Pages: 442

Rating: 5 out of 5.

Gah! I absolutely LOVE Kyoshi! And Rangi! And I will hold back as much as my gushing as possible…actually, that’s a lie, I probably won’t!

Okay, so on to the actual story, I guess. After Avatar Kuruk died, there was a power vacuum left open and many places devolved into chaos. The people closest to Kuruk, Jianzhu and Kelsang, went around the world to try to find the next Avatar, which took quite a few years. On their travels, they did find Kyoshi, as a young girl barely surviving on the island.

Nine years after that initial meeting, Jianzhu and Kelsang, along with another companion of Kuruk’s Hei-Ran, are training the new Avatar Yun. Kyoshi was taken in by Kelsang and she soon became friends with both Yun and Rangi (Hei-Ran’s daughter).

But then Jianzhu finds out that Yun is not actually the next Avatar but Kyoshi is, obviously for those who’ve watched Avatar: The Last Airbender, we already knew this. Kyoshi decides the best course of action is to run away as she can no longer trust Jianzhu after he kills Yun and Kelsang (this happens pretty close to the beginning, so it’s not really a spoiler).

Rangi joins Kyoshi on this escape trip and soon they fall in with her parents’ old criminal gang to help her eventually face down Jianzhu.

Again, I absolutely love Kyoshi, but probably my favorite parts were with Rangi and Kyoshi. This f/f romance is definitely in my top ships from now on, it’s especially awesome with the fact that Kyoshi is bisexual (she used to have feelings for Yun). Bisexuals for the win!! Anyway, to let you know how amazing the relationship between Rangi and Kyoshi, here are some quotes for your enjoyment (and mine):

  • “You don’t think you deserve peace and happiness and good things, but you do!” Rangi yelled. “You, Kyoshi! Not the Avatar, but you!?
  • “Where you go, I go.” (Which I absolutely love because it’s a callback to the bible verse from Ruth “Where you go I will go, and where you stay I will stay.” Apparently, this is one of the most quoted bible verses after 1 Corinthians 13).
  • “Kyoshi realized that comforting [Rangi] throughout the night was both an honor and a torture she wouldn’t have traded for anything in the world.
  • “With their eyes on each other, it was easy to be brave. Maybe that’s the only way we get through this, Kyoshi thought. Just never look away.”
  • Also, there’s a scene where Rangi is training Kyoshi and Rangi makes her hold the horse stance for 10 minutes. To test Kyoshi’s strength and focus, Rangi drapes herself over Kyoshi and kisses her throughout the 10 minutes.

I just, I just can’t with these two adorable humans!!

Kyoshi is such an amazing character on her own as well though. Not only an amazing character but her development throughout the book was beautiful to watch and read. I can definitely see where her desire for justice was born in this book. Kyoshi was a young girl who was never viewed with any respect or importance in her life, aside from Kelsang, Yun, and Rangi. Her background from an abandoned, impoverished background, along with her being identified as the Avatar so late in life means she had to fight for everything in her life. Seeing her grow from that little girl who had to fight for every scrap to the Avatar, knowing how her story ends and knowing that the Kyoshi warriors are formed in her name, was an absolutely lovely. I would definitely like to see more about why her parents abandoned her and maybe see a short story from their point of view. But other than that, gosh I just cannot wait to read the next book and to see more of Kyoshi and Rangi.

Some more quotes to show how much I love this woman:

  • “They’re all the same, Kyoshi thought. Every single one. Whether they clothe themselves in business or brotherhood or a higher calling only they can see, it doesn’t matter. They’re one and the same. They look at themselves like forces of nature, as inevitable ends, but they’re not. Their depth is as false as the shoals at low tide. They twist the meaning of justice to absolve themselves of conscience. They’re humans like us, made of skin and guts and pain. They need to be reminded of that fact.”
  • “Kyoshi gently nudged Rangi’s chin upward. She could no more prevent herself from doing this than she could keep from breathing, living, fearing. “I do feel loved,” she declared. Rangi’s beautiful face shone in reflection. Kyoshi leaned in and kissed her. A warm glow mapped Kyoshi’s veins. Eternity distilled in a single brush of skin. She thought she would never be more alive than now.”
  • “It was said that each Avatar was born in fitting times, to an era that needed them. Judging by its start, the era of Kyoshi would be marred by uncertainty, fear, and death, the only gifts she seemed capable of producing for the world. The people would never revere her like they did Yangchen or smile at her like they did Kuruk. Then let it be so, she thought. She would fight her ill fortune, her bad stars, and protect those who might despise her to the very end of her days.”
  • To Kyoshi that had been the easiest lesson to take in. She was nothing special. She had never been anything special. That was a mantra she believed in.”

This book did a fantastic job of exploring ethics, justice, and corruption, as well as the usual destiny and responsibility mantle that the Avatar takes up. At the beginning, Kyoshi has to decided whether to stay with Jianzhu, who was actually been pretty beneficial to the stability of the Earth Kingdom, but who did murder two people Kyoshi cared deeply for in cold blood. Or she can join up with the daofei, the criminal group her parents started in order to seek revenge against Jianzhu. It’ll definitely be interesting to see who Kyoshi will become in the next book? What she will be known for? And what she is willing to fight for?

Of course, for anyone who loves Avatar: the Last Airbender, this is definitely something you’ll want to check out. Especially, if you are a fan of the Kyoshi Warriors like I am or a fan of strong, independent women. With The Rise of Kyoshi, it expands the ATLA universe while also introducing the readers to new customs, cultures, and politics in the universe as well.

So, a request? When can I get a sky bison of my own? Pretty please, I’ve been very good!

Happy Reading Darlings

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