by Gene Luen Yang, Michael Dante DiMartino, and Bryan Konietzko
Part One of “The Promise” was reviewed here.
The background for those unfamiliar with Avatar: The Last Airbender, taken from the TV show’s opening: Long ago, the four nations lived together in harmony. Then everything changed when the Fire Nation attacked. Only the Avatar, master of all four elements, could stop them. But when the world needed him most, he vanished. A hundred years passed and my brother and I discovered the new Avatar, an airbender named Aang. And although his airbending skills are great, he still has a lot to learn before he's ready to save anyone. But I believe Aang can save the world. [cue epic music]
At the end of the TV show, Aang had successfully defeated Lord Ozai, leader of the Fire Nation. The new Fire Lord is Prince Zuko, the formerly exiled crown prince. Zuko’s been reformed from his old habit of persecuting the Avatar, but he’s worried that the pressures of ruling his kingdom will make him evil, so he makes Aang promise to kill him if he goes astray. A year passes, and Zuko abruptly backs out of the “Harmony Restoration Movement”, an agreement he made with the ruler of the Earth Kingdom to withdraw Fire Nation colonies from their land. Aang fears that Zuko is following in his father’s footsteps, and that he may be forced to fulfill his vow in order to maintain peace.
As the second volume in the trilogy, this book of “The Promise” suffers from its need to bridge between the first and final parts of the story. It feels like so much filler. The main story hardly advances. Aang and Katara meet with the Earth Kingdom’s leader to set up a meeting with Zuko, while Zuko tries to sort out right and wrong by talking to his father. The book ends with war threatening to break out between the two nations. However, the bulk of the story is dedicated to Sokka and Toph’s attempts to get the Beifong Metalbending Academy off the ground. Sure, it’s silly slapstick and a relief from Zuko’s moping, but it really seems like a mighty big serving of filler material. (That said, I bet it’ll end up tying into “Part Three” quite nicely.)
I’m sure the adventure will pick up in the final volume – second installments are always the weakest link in a three-part story.
3.5 out of 5 stars
To read more about The Promise, Part Two, buy it or add it to your wishlist click here.
Peeking into the archives...today in:
2011: Impressionistic Whales: Christopher Moore and Flip Nicklin
2010: News: Picture Books No Longer a Staple for Children
2009: Sorrow Wood Giveaway
2008: The Heretic’s Daughters Winners