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Zoryu was the leader of the Fire Nation during the early life of Avatar Kyoshi.[3] In the first years of his reign, Zoryu was an unpopular leader due to the poor harvests and collapsing fisheries, with some believing that the spirits themselves were displeased with him. His half-brother Chaejin served as a rival of his at court, positioning himself as a claimant to the throne, which culminated in the Camellia-Peony War.[2]

After his purge of the Saowon clan, Zoryu began to show the qualities of a decisive leader and skillful politician. Acknowledging the potential for civil war as long as the clans held power, Zoryu initiated a generational project to render the clans irrelevant and centralize the Fire Nation.[4]

History

Early life

Zoryu was the first and only legitimate child of Fire Lord Chaeryu and his wife, Lady Sulan of the Keohso clan, who died giving birth to him. His own name caused offense to the Saowon clan, as it made use of a zo character that was traditional to the Saowon.[2][5]

Zoryu had an illegitimate elder half-brother, Chaejin, born to his father's former mistress, Lady Huazo of the Saowon clan. Although Zoryu and Chaejin were playmates for a time, the latter was eventually sent away to the Fire Sages so as to exclude him from the line of succession, and was not to be spoken about for the remainder of Chaeryu's reign.[2]

He became a personal student of the firebending master Hei-Ran, who served as Headmistress at the Royal Fire Academy for Girls.[2]

Although Chaeryu's reign was considered bountiful, the nation's fortunes came to an end when Zoryu acceded to the throne. Both the crops and the fisheries began to fail, and several older Fire Sages began to believe that the spirits of the islands had grown unhappy and had turned their back on the people.[6] Chaejin returned to court as a liaison for the High Temple, and although Zoryu was initially delighted, his brother had been embittered by their father's treatment and sought to claim the throne for himself. He emboldened his position at court, while his mother Huazo gained power and influence across the nation. While Yun was believed to be the Avatar, he managed to placate the tensions at court, and struck up a friendship with Zoryu, managing to teach him Pai Sho.[2]

Camellia-Peony War

In 295 BG, Zoryu invited Avatar Kyoshi to the Fire Nation Capital to celebrate the Festival of Szeto and informed her that Hei-Ran and Rangi had arrived from Agna Qel'a.[3] During the palace garden party, Chaejin was introduced to Avatar Kyoshi, who mistook him for Fire Lord Zoryu, thanks to the strong resemblance he shared with the portrait of his late father, as well as his regal attire.[6] The crowd was shocked at the Avatar's faux pas, and he introduced himself to her, explaining his place in the royal family.[2] Zoryu arrived on the scene shortly after, and Chaejin mirthfully explained the Avatar's confusion, adopting a highly informal tone as he spoke of the nation's lack of prosperity. Kyoshi resolved to address the nation's issues, before attempting to dismiss Chaejin, wishing to speak to the Fire Lord alone. Chaejin refused, however, and Zoryu stared at the Avatar agape until Hei-Ran ordered the group to come with her, wishing to prevent a diplomatic catastrophe.[6]

Aside, Hei-Ran, Rangi, and Zoryu explained the political tensions in the Fire Nation, as Kyoshi and Atuat listened in. As his personal mentor, Hei-Ran asked for permission to speak beyond her station, before reprimanding the Fire Lord for showing weakness. Although he wished that the Avatar's presence would smooth over tensions, he raised that Kyoshi had practically blessed Chaejin's reign with her mistake.[2]

Hei-Ran departed with Atuat when her health declined, and Zoryu was left with Rangi and Kyoshi. He reminisced about Yun's aptitude at court before giving his condolences to Kyoshi and Rangi. Not long after Kyoshi informed him about Chaeryu's portrait, where the artist had depicted the Saowon camellia of Chaejin's maternity overshadowing Zoryu's peony. Despite the social faux pas that occurred earlier, the Avatar's private discussion with the Fire Lord had led the two leaders to gain respect for each other. Kyoshi was grateful to have connected with Zoryu since it had been a very long time since she had connected with someone her age.[2] At that moment, the trio was interrupted by the nobility's shock at Yun appearing on the Avatar's dais.[2] After Kyoshi and Rangi began to battle Yun, Zoryu retreated to the throne room and bemoaned the deaths of Chancellor Dairin, Lu Beifong, and two guardsmen. Kyoshi asked to speak to Chaejin privately, and the Fire Lord dismissed both of them.[7]

The following morning, Zoryu approached Kyoshi and Rangi in the stables, apologizing for not taking command the prior evening, and for Chaejin speaking to Kyoshi instead of him. He also revealed Hei-Ran, who unsheathed a knife and cut off her topknot in light of her dishonor, including letting her former pupil Zoryu dishonor their nation. The Fire Lord saw Kyoshi and Jinpa set off with Rangi, Hei-Ran, and Atuat, heading to North Chung-Ling to keep the former headmistress safe, and so Kyoshi could try to contact Kuruk and thus discover more about Yun and Father Glowworm.[8]

Kyoshi returned to the capital after having kidnapped Lady Huazo, keeping her in a property outside First Lord's Harbor. Zoryu was shocked that the Avatar had arrested the leader of the Saowon clan but agreed to have Kyoshi bring Chaejin to the house, thereby intimidating the Saowon into confessing to harboring Yun.[9]

Although the ploy failed, Zoryu procured a decoy of Yun, a debtor from Hanno'wu who agreed to die so that his family might be saved from starvation. The false Yun confessed to being paid by Huazo to humiliate Zoryu. The Fire Lord ordered his citizens to seize the Saowon traitors, the Keohso being the first to act. None of the clans who had originally supported the Saowon objected to the decision. As the nobles turned on one another, Kyoshi rushed to Yun's side, deducing that he was a fake.[10]

Kyoshi approached Zoryu in the war room, where he was standing beside a strategy table for a portrait. He confessed to using a double and told the Avatar that the Saowon would be rounded up, arrested, and killed. Kyoshi pointed out that chaos would resume if the real Yun were found, which Zoryu acknowledged, responding that the Fire Lord had bought more time for Kyoshi to find the real Yun. In response, Kyoshi demanded that the Saowon and false Yun should be spared if she found the real Yun, attempting to intimidate him into submission. Zoryu advised her to understand the extent of Yun's hatred, noting that as he was not blinded by the past as Kyoshi and Rangi were, he could know what needed to be done.[11]

Zoryu appointed Dairin's student Caoli as the new chancellor and settled on naming the period of conflict as the Camellia-Peony War. Zoryu considered executing all the Saowon, in spite of what he had agreed with Kyoshi. At that moment, the first rains began to fall on the Fire Nation in a very long time, and the Fire Lord giggled at his good fortune. However, Lao Ge arrived, warning him from breaking his promise. Zoryu was outraged at Kyoshi having sent an assassin to threaten him, but Lao Ge informed him that Kyoshi knew her mistake was trying to dabble in politics with Zoryu. Lao Ge dropped a hundred feet from the window ledge, telling Zoryu that Kyoshi was watching over him. When the Fire Lord responded that Kyoshi could not watch over him forever, the old man laughed to rival the thunder.[4]

Legacy

Zoryu's plan ultimately succeeded,[4] and the clans had been disempowered by the time of Sozin and his successors, leaving the Fire Lords as autocratic rulers with total control of the Fire Nation's resources.[12][13]

A park in the Fire Nation Capital was named "Zoryu Park" in his honor.[14]

Physical description

Zoryu was initially described as a young man with a pointy chin and a tall forehead.[1] He bore a strong resemblance to Chaejin and Chaeryu, as he had the same prominent brow and jut of the chin that they had.[2] Upon a closer look, Kyoshi noted that Zoryu was thinner than his older half-brother as he was a boy with a gangly physique.[2] He wore the Fire Lord headpiece in a top-knot as well as robes with sturdy royal armor shoulder pieces with gold-on-black edging.[1][2] By the time he tricked the Fire Nation nobles that he had captured Yun during the Camellia-Peony War, Zoryu had grown a wispy mustache over his upper lip.[10]

Personality

Zoryu was an unconfident and indecisive person as he did not stand up to Chaejin's mockery of him, his insults, or his challenge of his rulership. Many people in his country outside of the Keohso clan disrespected him for this and disliked him because of the struggles the food industry faced in the beginning of his rule.[6]

He was also kind and selfless, caring about the people in the Fire Nation and doing his best for the country, in spite of the efforts of the Saowon clan to overthrow him. Zoryu was calm, but had low self-esteem and all but resigned when his half-brother tried to usurp the throne.[9]

He was honest with Kyoshi and respectful toward her, politely asking for her help with the troubles he was facing. Although mostly humble in spite of his position, in a moment of arrogance, he had a boastful reception prepared for Kyoshi in order to enhance his image in her eyes.[1][3]

Even after the Avatar was ready to make Chaejin and Huazo confess to conspiring with Yun, Zoryu was still hesitant, but came to see that this was the best option after she encouraged him to be stronger.[9]

During these events, the Fire Lord became selfish and arrogant, putting himself above others. He subsequently called Yun's decoy to make a false confession about working with the Saowon and was determined to execute the man, promising him that his debts would be paid off upon his death. As Kyoshi was the only one who saw through the ruse, Zoryu declared that Saowon clan had betrayed the country and was about to have all of its members executed, before she intimidated him into sparing them.[10][11]

After the Avatar left the country, Zoryu wanted to break his promise, but Lao Ge threatened him into keeping his word to Kyoshi and he was angered by the feeling of helplessness.[4]

Relatives

Main article: Fire Nation Royal Family
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Yosor
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Descendants
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Huazo
   
   
Chaeryu
   
   
Sulan
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Chaejin
   
   
Zoryu
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Descendants
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Sozin's father
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Sozin
   
   
   
   
   
   
Roku
   
   
Ta Min
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Azulon
   
   
Ilah
   
   
Rina
   
   
Jinzuk
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Iroh
   
   
Ozai
   
   
   
   
   
   
Ursa
   
   
   
   
   
   
Noren
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Lu Ten
   
   
   
   
Zuko
   
   
Azula
   
   
Kiyi
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Izumi
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
   
Iroh
   
   
Izumi's
daughter[15]


Appearances

Kyoshi novels

The Shadow of Kyoshi

Preceded by
Chaeryu
Heir to the Fire Lord
c. 4th century BG - c. 297 BG
Succeeded by
Unknown; eventually Sozin


Preceded by
Chaeryu
Fire Lord
c. 297 BG - Unknown
Succeeded by
Unknown; eventually Sozin's father

References

  1. 1.0 1.1 1.2 1.3 Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Chapter Six, "The Performance". The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  2. 2.00 2.01 2.02 2.03 2.04 2.05 2.06 2.07 2.08 2.09 2.10 2.11 2.12 Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Chapter Eight, "Ancient History". The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  3. 3.0 3.1 3.2 Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Chapter Two, "The Invitation". The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  4. 4.0 4.1 4.2 4.3 Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Epilogue. The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  5. Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Chapter Nineteen, "The Companion". The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  6. 6.0 6.1 6.2 6.3 Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Chapter Seven, "The Headmistress". The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  7. Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Chapter Ten, "Aftermath". The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  8. Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Chapter Eleven, "The Ritual". The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  9. 9.0 9.1 9.2 Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Chapter Twenty, "The Edge". The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  10. 10.0 10.1 10.2 Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Chapter Twenty-One, "Shapes of Life and Death". The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  11. 11.0 11.1 Yee, F. C. (author), DiMartino, Michael Dante (author). (July 21, 2020). Chapter Twenty-Two, "Housecleaning". The Shadow of Kyoshi. Amulet Books.
  12. Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch (writer) & Spaulding, Ethan (director). (October 26, 2007). "The Avatar and the Fire Lord". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 3. Episode 6. Nickelodeon.
  13. Ehasz, Elizabeth Welch (writer) & MacMullan, Lauren (director). (May 12, 2006). "Zuko Alone". Avatar: The Last Airbender. Season 2. Episode 7. Nickelodeon.
  14. Avatar Legends: The Roleplaying Game. Quickstart, Version 1.0, 2021, p. 33.
  15. Joshua Hamilton on the DVD commentary for "The Coronation".
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