The universe of Avatar: The Last Airbender will soon venture into the realm of novels, starting with The Rise of Kyoshi this July. The book will focus on the mostly mysterious Avatar Kyoshi and is planned to be the first in a series.
Written by F.C. Yee with oversight from series creator Michael Dante DiMartino, the young adult novel will be published by Abrams Children’s Books. In an interview with Entertainment Weekly, Andrew Smith, senior VP and publisher for Abrams, voiced a clear excitement for the story.
“Bringing Kyoshi’s previously untold story to life in original novels will be a major pop culture event,” said Smith. “Not only for fans of the show, but also for readers hungry for a new epic YA saga. The Rise of Kyoshi has all the hallmarks of what YA readers love -- bold storytelling set in a rich landscape with a strong heroine at the forefront!”
It’s been a little over six years since a new lead was introduced to the Last Airbender universe. Though Avatar Kyoshi is not a brand-new character, she’ll be the ongoing story's first new focal point since Avatar: The Legend of Korra began in 2012.
In the series, Kyoshi held the title of Avatar two generations before Aang, the main character in Last Airbender. The brief glimpses audiences were given of her during the original show painted her as a warrior first, someone whose first instinct was to fight and ask questions later. The character’s look was quite distinct, with heavy makeup, a golden crown and a bright green dress, accompanied by sharp Chinese hand fans that she used as weapons.
By all accounts, Kyoshi was a mixed bag of an Avatar. While she stood up and fought for what she believed in, she was also known to act impulsively. At one point, she threatened the life of the Earth King and even established the Dai Li, a dark organization in the original series. It will be interesting to see how Yee translates this internal struggle to the pages of a youth-friendly story, but introducing a young audience to darker themes is one of the series’ hallmarks.
Avatar-related media has had a bit of an upswing lately, with a recent graphic novel series that continued the events of Korra and an upcoming series that focuses on Aang announced. Even Netflix has entered the Avatar-adjacent content arena with The Dragon Prince, an animated series from Airbender co-writer Aaron Ehasz that bears a few similarities to Nickolodeon’s fantasy smash.
The Rise of Kyoshi will release July 2019, but comics readers can jump back into the universe this December, with Dark Horse Comics’ Avatar: The Last Airbender -- Imbalance Part One by Faith Erin Hicks and Peter Wartman.