Avatar: The Last Airbender has not only grown in popularity since its initial release in 2005, but has also expanded its world in ways few could have imagined. With many projects being canon, Avatar has produced a sequel series titled Legend of Korra, role playing tabletop games, video games, a new live-action series coming to Netflix, new animated projects to come from Avatar Studios, comics, and the Chronicles of the Avatar novels. No, there was never a live action movie. That never happened.
Out of all the universe expanding mediums that have come from the original series, one of those stands out from the rest—the novels. If you haven’t been reading them, you are missing out on the best content the Avatar universe has to offer.
‘Chronicles of the Avatar‘ delivers the ATLA stories you’ve always wanted
Written by F.C. Yee, and overseen by ATLA co-creator Michael Dante DiMartino, the Chronicles of the Avatar novels are an incredible, mature, look into the world and provide a deep dive into Avatars of the past. So far, the Chronicles of the Avatar series consists of four novels: The Rise of Kyoshi, The Shadow of Kyoshi, The Dawn of Yangchen, and The Legacy of Yangchen.
The beauty of this series is that it is written for a YA (young adult) audience; meaning there are adult themes in this series that the original show, which aired on Nickelodeon, could not touch. That includes an increase of violence that leads to some gruesome deaths, spicy romantic scenes, and a deep dive into greater political drama.
The success of these novels helped Kyoshi, the Avatar that came before Roku, become one of the most popular Avatars in the franchise. Not just because of preconceived notions of the character, which included Kyoshi being seen as an “ask questions later” type of Avatar, but because of her upbringing and LGBQT+ background. With the novels being YA, and no restraints coming from Nickelodeon, Yee is able to explore Kyoshi’s relationship with her longtime friend and partner, Rangi.
Though it is tackled in the comics, Korra and Asami’s relationship is only briefly touched upon in the Legend of Korra show, with some pushback from the network. The Kyoshi novels not only confront her relationship with Rangi and put it in the main focus, but also the viewpoints of queer relationships in the world among the four nations.
Adding to the legacy
With the novels being canon to the Avatar universe, the best part of these stories is Yee’s ability to peel back layers of these characters in a way fans of the franchise never knew.
One of the most surprising parts of the Kyoshi novels is that it explores more than Kyoshi’s life, also Kuruk. Kyoshi is the Avatar Kuruk’s predecessor and, prior to the novels, all fans knew about the water nation Avatar was that he was a “go with the flow” type of guy, and he died an early death. Much like how Avatar: the Last Airbender gives a glimpse into Avatar Roku’s story, the second novel, The Shadow of Kyoshi, answers many questions about Kuruk, including what caused him to die so young and Avatar Yangchen’s part in that.
The benefits of a connected universe continue to hold firm as Yee introduces the second part to the chronicles: The Dawn of Yangchen and The Legacy of Yangchen. These two books play heavier into the world’s political landscape. Similar to the early days of the Skywalker Saga, much of the tension revolves around trade disputes and financing power hungry oligarchs while Avatar Yangchen attempts to manage the balance of the human world as a young teenager.
Throughout the chronicles, readers see elements of future organizations, the ground roots of mind-erasing tactics, and answer the origins of unique forms of bending. Most answers feel very fulfilling while the door is still left open for other aspects to be explored later in the future.
Yangchen has a unique case where she can sometimes be overcome with the persona of a previous Avatar. In some of these sequences, there are glimpses of Avatars that have never been introduced prior—including one who has completely given up on humanity.
‘Chronicles of the Avatar’ is a must-read for ATLA fans
Whether it be the action, drama, political tension, romance, or simply representation—the Chronicles of the Avatar novels are the best content that the franchise has put out. These book’s ongoing theme proves there is more to these characters than we know. Each entry serves as a deep dive into the unknown and yet there is always some sort of familiarity that the world itself brings.
The added history, character exploration, drama and overall enjoyment showcase the world in a way that has never been seen before. If you are a fan of Avatar the Last Airbender or Legend of Korra, these novels are a must-read.
Fans can pick up their copies of the book at their local bookshops with the latest title, The Legacy of Yangchen, now available. Follow the Agents of Fandom socials for all the latest ATLA content.