Author: F.C. Yee
Narrator: Nancy Wu
Audiobook Length: 11 hours 11 minutes
Yangchen’s inexperience may prove to be her greatest asset . . .
Plagued by the voices of Avatars before her for as long as she can remember, Yangchen has not yet earned the respect felt for Avatar Szeto, her predecessor. In an era where loyalty is bought rather than earned, she has little reason to trust her counsel. When Yangchen travels to Bin-Er in the Earth Kingdom on political business, a chance encounter with an informant named Kavik leads to a wary partnership. Bin-Er is a city ruled by corrupt shang merchants who have become resentful of the mercurial Earth King and his whims. To extract themselves from his influence, the shangs have one solution in mind: a mysterious weapon of mass destruction that would place power squarely in their hands. As Yangchen and Kavik seek to thwart the shangs’ plan, their unlikely friendship deepens. But for Yangchen to chart her course as a singularly powerful Avatar, she must learn to rely on her own wisdom above all else.
This propulsive third installment in the Chronicles of the Avatar series illuminates Avatar Yangchen’s journey from uncertain young woman to revered leader.
The Dawn of Yangchen is actually my first Avatar, the Last Airbender novel. I own both Kyoshi books, but I have not read them yet. I briefly recalled Yangchen in the comic series mentioned throughout along with her appearance in the tv series, so it was nice to see how the author would expand on the character. As Yangchen is an airbender, I was curious how the novel would integrate the air nomad culture before the fire nation conquered version was introduced in the show. The story begins with 17-year-old Yangchen, so there is a lot more in her story to be told as she lived to be a little over 150.
Yangchen is more the negotiator compared to Avatars like Kyoshi, which gives a new perspective to this role. There are glimpses of her past and motivations, but there is a lot hidden from the reader. I am not sure if this is by design in this novel and will be explored more later or if this is something else, so I will have to see the next novel to find out. She has a constant struggle with the Spirit World with the novel even opening with this aspect of her character. While it is something mentioned, I greatly wish that this was explored a lot more as it is a fascinating element of the Avatar where they have both the real and spirit worlds to balance.
Along with Yangchen, the story follows Kavik and the two of them form a friendship. The two characters end up receiving the same amount of page time, but, for me, a lot more attention is given to Kavik. During Yangchen’s page time, there seemed to be more focus on the plot whereas Kavik’s included a little more character-driven moments. While I am all for having two main characters, I do wish a slight bit more attention was paid to Yangchen since this is supposed to be her tale. Overall, this is an interesting story for those who are fans of the universe, but it still needs a bit more to amazing on its own. As this is, at the moment, going to be a duology, I cannot wait to read the next one to see how it all comes together.