tl;dr: 'The Shadow of Kyoshi' delivers on Avatar lore, but is let down by a weak plot
'The Shadow of Kyoshi' is the successor to the excellent 'Rise of Kyoshi'. The story begins with Kyoshi laying down the law in various parts of the Earth Kingdom. She is getting overwhelmed by the futility and the sheer volume of the task. Additionally, she feels that she is letting down people as the Avatar when compared to Yangchen. Amid all these troubles, she gets invited to the Fire Kingdom to discover that she has to solve more problems. An additional complication is the interference of somebody from her past.
This book has a lot going for it. The narrative has plenty of Avatar lore seamlessly weaved into it. Some of this is from the animated series and the graphic novels. The new portions put certain events in a different light. Fans of the Avatar universe, like me, will love the book just for this lore. The writing is excellent in most places, as is the pacing. I never felt like putting the book down even once.
The book has the same feel as the animated series. There are multiple layers to the story. Kyoshi's issues seem to be similar to Korra's. Her physical skills are not in question, but her spiritual ones are. I liked how the main plot threads intertwine, such that Kyoshi's inner struggles with her confidence mix with her conflict in the physical world.
That said, not everything is great about the book. For one, I was looking forward to seeing the creation of the Dai Li & Kyoshi warriors and other notable events. I hope the next book addresses some of them.
But, the more significant issue is the weak plot thread that sets up Kyoshi's hero challenge. I would have been happy with Fire Kingdom conflict taking centre stage in the book. Kyoshi is pushed out of her comfort zone of physicality and into diplomacy and intrigue. But the author introduces the mysterious presence into this intrigue, and it dilutes the entire plot. Kyoshi suddenly becomes less of a bad-ass for plot purposes. Unfortunately, the climactic sequence is a battle with this presence, and it is quite underwhelming to boot. The Fire Kingdom sub-plot, though, has a much more satisfying ending.
In conclusion, I liked 'The Shadow of Kyoshi'. The positives far outweigh the negative, and I look forward to reading more stories about Kyoshi's life.
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