by J. Idanian -- (AtLA) -- A story is centered around four OCs as they travel the war-torn Earth Kingdom: an escaped slave searching for a way to free his village, an exiled warlord from the Si Wong desert, a merchant from Ba Sing Se seeking to defeat the Fire Nation through any means necessary, and a firebender POW who's trapped between both sides. Together, the four of them will stand against a world at war. (Rated M, 200,000+ words) (Incomplete)
I know, I know. An OC-centric story is always a tough sell. So far there's been a grand total on one real cameo from the canon cast; when Toph spends a scene beating up the ex-slave earthbender who wises to become her student. Despite that, the story works, and in fact uses its lack of canon characters as a legitimate plot point. The goal of Our Heroes is basically to convince the White Lotus to become active in the war, rather than keeping to the shadows and safeguarding their ancient secrets. To do that, they need to work their way up the ladder of the organization by jumping through the necessary hoops, thus earning the right to meet with the great masters of the White Lotus (Bumi, Piandao, Iroh, etc.). They can't just cut right to the chase because not only wouldn't the great masters speak with them -- they're small fish -- but their political enemies would use the overreach as an excuse to crush the militant faction of the White Lotus. Just because everyone's opposed to the Fire Nation's imperial ambitions doesn't mean they all agree on a single course of action to counter them.
But that's just the grand overarching plot. There's other ones for the main characters. The ex-slave, for instance, becomes a White Lotus initiate in order to become strong enough to liberate his village. As the cast travels the Earth Kingdom, he trains in different styles of earthbending, and the story devotes a fair amount of time to developing the martial styles of the four elements and their spiritual nature. Worldbuilding is a real strength here, and makes the story's setting feel lived in. While it doesn't reach the achievements of fics like The Golden Power
(Zelda) or 100 Years
(AtLA), it still does a good job.
For fans of intrigue, there's a lot of it going around this fic. The protagonists are knee-deep in criss-crossing plots involving factions of the White Lotus, Dai Li, and some sort of Fire Nation assassins' guild call The Academy. Despite being low-ranking fish, the protagonists are doing their best to influence the course of the war and defeat their enemies, foreign and domestic. It'll be interesting to see how canon events tie into this. We know the White Lotus eventually does become openly militant in the series finale, but here the advocates for that policy are an unpopular minority, so it's quite a road to how they'll convince their leadership to go to war.
Unlike pretty much every fanfic author that stops their story to do major revisions, he actually finished them
. And not just minor grammar edits. A major supporting character was worked into the mix, whole chapters were broken up and extended, and more time was devoted to character development and worldbuilding.
This recommendation does come with a few caveats, though. The author occasionally uses the same word twice in short order. There's the rare typo. The big one, however, is the lack of scene breaks. Whether he just doesn't trust FFnet to not eat his scene breaks the next time they revise their formatting method or if he simply writes in a looser style as far as narration-goes, the result is the same -- you're going to need to be careful picking up when scenes transition. It's not a major problem in the first ten chapters or so, when the cast is small and traveling close together, but later on, as the cast expands and they start doing their own subplots within various chapters, it can get tricky keeping track of thing. I had a few "wait, back up" moments myself.
That said, I still strongly recommend it. It's a good Avatar fanfic, with an interesting story and solid worldbuilding. The "lower deck" mentality of it is a real draw. The author also puts a lot of effort into battle scenes and sword fights.