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Avatar Korra: An Annotated Bibliography

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One of the joys of becoming an established scholar is the supervision of doctoral students from the Royal Fire Academy. Despite the bulk of my work concerning the early 2nd century AG, I do get a lot of people hoping to include Avatar Korra in their studies. Probably because they know we're friends and Korra will happily spend hours in interviews, if Asami lets her, but I digress. As a result of this particular duty, I assembled a preliminary annotated bibliography for their consumption - although this copy, with asides, was intended for Fire Lord Iroh II in particular. You can tell because I didn't use any nicknames. If this work is cited, the correct format is: Ursa. (206 AG). Avatar Korra: An Annotated Bibliography. Royal Fire Academy, Caldera City.

Sadin. (176 AG). Red Blooms – A History of the Schism. Ba Sing Se University Press, Ba Sing Se.
This is a historical account of the doctrinal schism within the White Lotus which ultimately led to the emergence of the Red Lotus under Xai Bau. As a rarity, Sadin is relatively even-handed in his treatment of the issue, drawing on extensive interviews with the captured Red Lotus leader Zaheer. He also succeeded in reproducing, from interviews with my grandfather and Chief Sokka’s papers, a credible retelling of the mission to capture Avatar Korra. Zuko’s ‘Meditations’ published in 165 AG, and Iroh’s ‘Legacy of the Fire Nation’ in 134 AG provide valuable insider perspectives for the discerning reader - although Iroh’s work also doubles as a book on tea preparation.

Anon. (170 AG). South Pole Onboarding Package. Unpublished.
This anonymously written document, likely compiled through word of mouth from dozens of White Lotus guards, is an informal ‘survival guide’ to working with Avatar Korra through her childhood and teenage years. It is an amusing read, and adds some complexity to those seeking to understand the childhoods of Avatars, although it does deploy hyperbole on a regular basis. For example, most scholars find it hard to believe that on her thirteenth birthday, she attacked a group of otter-penguins with firebending, fearing their intentions towards Naga’s haddock.

Korra has steadfastly refused to comment on this incident - Ursa.

Katara. (181 AG). Remembrances. Taraq & Sons, Harbour City.
Katara published her ‘Remembrances’ with assistance from her daughter Kya and son Tenzin shortly before her death in 182 AG. It draws upon her diary, which she kept religiously from 102 AG to 178 AG, interspersed with inserts for historical context and expansion on certain concepts mentioned in passing. It is a critical text to understanding the past century from the perspective of a key decision-maker. Its chapters on Korra’s upbringing are particularly revelatory. Some historians, however, have suggested Katara’s obvious affection for Korra reduces its analytical value. This may be the case, but its prominence as a primary source has gone largely unquestioned.

Kya. (205 AG) Correspondence. Yu Dao University Archive, Republic City.
Kya, the daughter of Avatar Aang and Katara, spent much of her life travelling, and maintained extensive correspondence with her family and friends. Upon her death, her long-time partner Lin Beifong gifted a substantial number of them to Yu Dao University - although most containing direct references to their relationship were not included. While some scholars look past Kya’s contribution to the literature in comparison to her brothers’ experiences in military and politics, her work comprises a remarkable oral social history and is regarded as a particular classic in the queer community.

Tenzin. (158 AG). Inheriting the Wind. Yue Press, Republic City.
Inheriting the Wind is a blended memoir of his father written by Tenzin, son of Avatar Aang. He uses it to recount his father’s feelings as the last airbender, and the Tenzin’s history with the art - before turning to address the after effects of Avatar Aang’s untimely death. The deeply personal and emotive tone has deterred some readers, but it remains a credible biography and haunting account of the generational impacts of the Air Nomad Genocide.

Seniph. (168 AG) In Iron Clad: The Evolution of the Republic City Police Force. Yue Press, Republic City.
In Iron Clad is a creditable narrative history of the RCPD, beginning with its joint origins as a product of Kyoshi Warrior Suki’s teaching of chi blocking to guards at the Earthen Fire Refinery, and the growing constabulary role of Toph Beifong’s metalbending academy students. It proceeds to document the RCPD’s early paramilitary role, particularly during the Haiza Crisis; the ascension of the metalbenders during the crisis years of the 150s and early 160s; and Lin Beifong’s effort to further professionalise the force. Unfortunately, it was published just before the Equalist Crisis, and therefore loses the opportunity for further exploration. Activists to include Hano and Sonrack have, not unfairly, accused Seniph of overlooking bias against non-benders within the RCPD - although Seniph retorted that as a principally operational history, this issue was ultimately of limited salience.

Amon. (169 AG). Equality Now! Unpublished.
Widely attributed to Equalist terrorist leader Amon, this pamphlet lays out the necessity of an Equalist revolution. He lambastes, at some length, unrepresentative United Republic Council and the failure of the RCPD to confront the triads. Interestingly, while his broader message was internationalist in character, this particular tract comes across as strongly nationalistic, with repeated emphasis on the non-benders of Republic City being oppressed by foreign benders. This inclusion has led to heated debate over the ideological origins and objectives of the Equalist movement.

Shehun. (170 AG). On the Origin of Non-Bending Discontent. Yu Dao University Press, Republic City.
Published just a month before the Equalist Crisis became violent, this work was sold out within a week of publication, prompting seven subsequent print runs. Despite the ponderous title, it is a compelling and highly readable account of the oppression non-benders suffered within Republic City. Of particular note is an excellent chapter on criminal victimisation by bending triads - Shehun succeeded in securing several interviews with senior triad members for the work.

Eiyono. (172 AG). Sinews of Power. Royal Fire Academy Press, Caldera City.
Written in direct response to Shehun’s work, Eiyono applies a clear materialist lens to argue that benders, not non-benders, were the true oppressed class. She notes that benders had been the subject of genocide twice during the Hundred Years War, and that non-benders held a majority of the economic power within Republic City in the years leading up to the Equalist Crisis. The triads are recast as unfortunates using their native power to survive in an austere environment, and the Equalist connection with Future Industries seen as a play for greater economic power by industrial manufacturers. This provocative thesis attracted significant controversy.

Eiyono is an incredibly abrasive character when writing, but rather polite in person. We go out for dinner every so often - Ursa.

Shinobi, S. (181 AG). In the Arena: A History of Pro-Bending. Barrier Publishing House, Republic City.
In the Arena is a history of pro-bending written by the famous commentator Shiro Shinobi. Its early chapters are a serviceable, if rather mundane, run down of its origins in Cranefish Town and development into a formalised, competitive, event, although Shinobi has been critiqued for his underestimation of the cultural influence of the Gaoling Earth Rumbles on the sport’s emergence. Its value increases significantly in the latter half, as Shinobi begins to write about teams and events he witnessed and commentated upon. This includes a remarkably in-depth and engaging profile of Avatar Korra’s time playing for the Fire Ferrets.

Bolin. (175-Ongoing AG). Pabu: Hero of the Republic! Varrick Industries International, Republic City.
Pabu: Hero of the Republic! is a comic series about a valiant fire ferret named Pabu, who regularly saves organised government and sometimes civilisation against a recurring cast of characters, including Amon, Unalaq, Zaheer, and Kuvira. It has limited historical value, but is reportedly entertaining and of use for understanding former Vice President Bolin in more detail.

I think you may be interested to know that Kuvira is a regular reader of Pabu: HotR. She claims she buys them for her daughter, but I spoke to Altani last week and she confirmed she hasn’t read a copy in years - Ursa.

Esai, T. (177 AG). A History of Amon’s Revolution. Ba Sing Se University Press, Ba Sing Se.
Tanih Esai’s work is a laudable effort to capture the entirety of the Equalist Crisis in one volume. He took substantial pains to interview a wide range of sources, including more junior members of both the RCPD and the Equalist movement. In so doing, the work captures the events in fine detail. However, it has been accused of focusing too much on the personage of Amon as a key element in the crisis - rather than expanding its scope to the broader socio-economic factors in Republic City. Esai fired back that Amon’s unique ability to strip away bending was the key distinguishing element to the Equalist movement which precipitated his rise to power.

Iji. (180 AG). Asami Sato: The Authorised Biography. Yue Press, Republic City.
This mass-market biography is a valuable history of Asami Sato’s early years, including her sudden succession to the helm of Future Industries, and her friendship, romance, and subsequent marriage to Avatar Korra. It does, however, prioritise readability above strict historical detail. Further, some, including Lei Gan-Lan, the CEO of Cabbage Corp, have suggested it is little more than ‘propaganda for Future Industries and a vehicle for the denigration of competitors.’

As Asami’s friend, I can tell you with some confidence that the constant denigration of Cabbage Corp products is absolutely true to life. If anything Iji somewhat underplays it - Ursa.

Aokon. (191 AG). Tarrlok. Queen Lake Press, Capital Island.
Tarrlok is a magisterial biography of a prominent and controversial political figure. Aokon uses declassified United Republic documentation, and an extensive set of interviews, to give a vital portrayal of a man variously hailed as crucial to the Republic’s evolution towards a presidential model, or reviled as a power-hungry traitor. Aokon’s key weakness, in some sense, is his neutrality; he does not pick a side in this debate, but rather presents evidence for and claims by both sides. While this is commendable in some senses and does permit the reader to draw their own conclusions, it does bloat the work to an extent.

Mako. (200 AG). Observations Vol 1. Yu Dao University Press, Republic City.
Apart from his ‘Economic History of the Earth Empire’ (197 AG), Chief of Police Mako is not a writer of great consequence. However, he did keep a meticulous diary, volumes from which were published by Yu Dao University Press. Volume 1 contains comprehensive information regarding the Equalist Crisis in 170 AG - down to the weather report from the Fire Nation Broadcasting Corporation for each day, and any observed changes from this report. While only the doughtiest scholars could read it in one sitting, it is acknowledged as authoritative by all relevant stakeholders.

Iroh II. (171 AG). The Battle of Yue Bay and the Transformation of Naval Doctrine. United Forces Command and Staff College, Iziko Island.
The destruction of the United Forces’ 1st Division in Yue Bay by Equalist aeroplanes set off furious debate within militaries around the world. This monograph, building on a formal after action review issued by General Iroh following the action, proved fundamental in defending the enduring relevance of the battleship as an arm of strategic sea control while acknowledging the importance of airpower as a tactical tool for green-water power projection. This contrasted substantially with Commander Cuzon’s aggressive lobbying for the development of aircraft carrying warships. While the technical debate has moved on in the forty years since this was written, historians see it as a valuable - and honest - assessment of United Forces capability and military theory in the early 170s.

Loh, S. (172 AG). The Longest Day. Yu Dao University Press, Republic City.
While not as acclaimed as her later work on the prosecution of Kuvira and Baatar Beifong Jr, Sirah Loh’s history of the final battles which ended the Equalist Crisis remains accurate and compelling. Loh reported on the entire event for the Republic City Gazette, displaying considerable valour to do so. Some have suggested that the journalistic tone reduces available context for the reader, but as a narrowly focused account of a crucial period - especially one written in the immediate aftermath of events - it is highly credible.

Jinora. (194 AG). The Air Nation 153-170 AG. Yue Dao University Press, Republic City.
This work is the complete Volume 8 of Jinora’s ten volume history of the Air Nomads. Initially penned for Air Nation use, it was published by Yu Dao University for the benefit of the academic community. Covering similar ground to her father’s ‘Inheriting the Wind’ but from a more scholarly perspective, and extending to cover the impact of the Equalist Crisis, it is a scholarly and capable work. She is at pains throughout to weave in personal stories, particularly as related to Avatar Korra’s time on Air Temple Island in 170 AG. The result is eminently readable and highly engaging.

It’s always a pleasure to spend time with Jinora - although I do wish she would stop trying to get me to be a vegetarian… - Ursa.

Ursa II. (194 AG). Fire About The Throne: A History of the Later Monarchy. Queen Lake Press, Capital Island.
Spanning the reigns of Fire Lords Zuko, Izumi, and the earlier portion of Iroh II, ‘Fire About The Throne’ is a definitional account of the Fire Nation’s leadership at a crucial juncture in national history. Scholars note with approval Ursa’s extensive interviews with all three monarchs, and access to palace records. Of particular reference are the four chapters dealing with Fire Nation - United Republic relations in the early parts of Fire Lord Izumi’s reign. Ursa asserts that the Caldera’s move to hold the Republic at arms length, as part of a broader disengagement strategy in the late 160s, played a role in emboldening Amon and his cohorts. However, some have argued that the author’s familial links to the subject challenge its objectivity.

Such arguments are, of course, absolute poppycock - Ursa.