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The unification wars of the Fire Islands were a series of military conflicts in the disaggregated archipelago that later became the Fire Nation, fought by the first Fire Lord against several warring warlords. His victory resulted in the first recorded unification of the Fire Islands, paving the way for the establishment of the Fire Nation.[1]


Fire Islands warlords fighting

The warlords of the Fire Islands constantly fought for land and supremacy.

Following the closure of the spirit portals by Avatar Wan, human society transitioned into an era marked by internal conflict and warfare,[2] a circumstance that ultimately precipitated their migration across the Fire Islands. Establishing settlements across the entire archipelago, humans gradually carved out villages amidst the diverse landscapes. Over time, warlords emerged to assume dominion and engaged in battles to claim territorial control and access to resources. Commoners found themselves ensnared in the midst of these power struggles and conflicts, dwelling within settlements controlled by different warlords, some of whom mandated tributes to support their war efforts.[1][3] Many warlord regimes controlled individual islands.[3]


With the passage of time, a warlord rose to power who far surpassed all contemporaries: Toz. Despite his brutal and tyrannical rule, his regime achieved remarkable potency and influence.[3][4]

One year, a village's refusal to offer tribute to Toz prompted him to abduct children from the settlement as punishment. The children were never seen again, and their mothers, consumed by sorrow, perished. Shortly thereafter, the souls of these mothers returned to the mortal realm as dark spirits known as the Kemurikage and haunted warlords for their crimes. In retaliation, the Kemurikage abducted the children of the warlords' cohorts, thereby imposing punishment for their actions. Horrified, many warriors abandoned their commanders; this resulted in the downfall of Toz's regime as well as the weakening of several other rulers across the Fire Islands.[1] While Toz's ascendancy had been short-lived, it spurred neighboring warlords to aspire to a similar status, each harboring ambitions of consolidating their dominion over the entire expanse of the Fire Islands.[4]

Eventually, one territorial leader emerged, managing to vanquish the remaining warlords and bringing them to justice. He subsequently united the Fire Islands into a single political unit and eventually became known as the first Fire Lord,[1] the spiritual leader of the Fire Sages,[5] descendants of Bhanti sages.[6] The first Fire Lord permitted the families of numerous warlords to retain control over their respective territories, as many of them had large and loyal followings. As a result, these families were granted a degree of autonomy and were also allowed to maintain household troops.[3][7]


The first Fire Lord ushered in a protracted era of peace and dismantled the prevailing warlord structure, consequently leading to a wane in the sorrow that afflicted the Kemurikage. In consequence, the dark spirits retreated into the Spirit World and stopped haunting mankind,[1] despite their continued infamy in legend for coming centuries in the Fire Nation.[8] The descendants of the warlords eventually became the country's noble clans.[3] As the clans maintained private armies, however, they continued to engage in occasional bloody feuds. Consequently, minor-scale violence continued in the newly unified nation.[3][7]

After his death, the first Fire Lord was interred in a crypt in the Dragonbone Catacombs.[1] At some point, the Fire Lord split from the Fire Sages while maintaining political power, changing the rule of the Fire Nation from a religious leadership into an empire ruled by the Fire Nation Royal Family.[5] The Fire Army was eventually established by the Fire Lords as a loyal, standing force to maintain control over the various clans. Over time, some clans grew extremely powerful, however, and their military power even surpassed that of the Fire Army.[9] The latent instability of the Fire Nation resulted in recurring periods of intense violence and civil war, such as under the reign of Fire Lord Yosor.[3] In 295 BG, Fire Lord Zoryu finally initiated a project which aimed at reshaping the Fire Nation into an autocratic regime through the fragmentation of the powerful clans.[7] This policy had yielded success by the time of Fire Lord Sozin.[1]

Zuko, Aang, Kei Lo, and Mai in the Dragonbone Catacombs

Avatar Aang and his friends explored the Dragonbone Catacombs to learn about the origin of the Kemurikage.

The unification of the Fire Islands eventually faded into obscurity, particularly during the Hundred Year War, when Fire Lord Sozin sealed the majority of the Dragonbone Catacombs, where comprehensive accounts of the Fire Nation's history were kept. In 102 AG, Avatar Aang, Fire Lord Zuko, Mai, and Kei Lo explored the catacombs to learn about the origin of the Kemurikage. In the process, one of the original Kemurikage appeared and proceeded to recount the story of Toz and the Fire Nation's unification to the Avatar.[1]


Graphic novels[]

Chronicles of the Avatar[]


  • The armor worn by the soldiers of the first Fire Lord strongly resemble that of the warriors of the Yayoi period, an era during which the first known Japanese kingdoms emerged. Although the unification of Japan under a single kingdom only began to occur during the Kofun period, when Japan imported the idea of a centralized state from China.
  • Individuals from the warlord era of the Fire Islands were based on the Ainu, an indigenous group of the northern Japanese archipelago, a region governed today by Japan and Russia.[10] A common misconception of the Ainu is that they are representative of the Jomon period people, the populations that lived in Japan before the Yayoi period. In reality, the Jomon were not a single ethnic group nor genetically homogeneous, and the Ainu only descend from the Hokkaido Jomon people.


  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 1.4 1.5 1.6 1.7 1.8 DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene Luen (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). Smoke and Shadow Part Two (December 16, 2015), Dark Horse Comics.
  2. Hedrick, Tim (writer) & Graham, Ian (director). (October 18, 2013). "Beginnings, Part 2". The Legend of Korra. Book Two: Spirits. Episode 8. Nickelodeon.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 3.3 3.4 3.5 3.6 Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Chapter Five, "Cultural Diplomacy". The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  4. 4.0 4.1 Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Chapter Nineteen, "The Companion". The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  5. 5.0 5.1 The Lost Scrolls: Fire, page 177 of The Lost Scrolls Collection.
  6. K207 "Beginnings: part 1", Premise (PDF) (2014-05-21). Retrieved on May 24, 2014.
  7. 7.0 7.1 7.2 Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Epilogue. The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  8. DiMartino, Michael Dante; Konietzko, Bryan; Yang, Gene Luen (writer), Sasaki of Gurihiru (penciling, inking), Kawano of Gurihiru (colorist), Heisler, Michael; Comicraft (letterer). Smoke and Shadow Part One (September 23, 2015), Dark Horse Comics.
  9. Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Chapter Eight, "Ancient History". The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  10. Smoke and Shadow Library Edition, pages 104 and 115.