A Tale of Rebels takes place during the time of the Unnamed fire Avatar. Its the tale of a boy named Senqok, a skilled swordsman and a master waterbender of the Southern Water Tribe. He travels to the Earth Empire, only to be captured by a group of rebels known as the Liberation Alliance. A group that strongly oppresses the rule of Earth Emperor Yi Ming, a ruthless tyrant who rules the Earth Empire. This is the story of how the Liberation Alliance rebel against the Earth Emperor and help bring peace to the world. This is indeed a tale of rebels!
At first glance, the premise sounds intriguing and reasonably well original. It is quite rare to find a fanon that details life before the Hundred Year War, and, even more notably, one without the Avatar. The fanon takes place during the life of the Unnamed fire Avatar before Avatar Yangchen. It follows a rebel known as Senqok who works with a group of liberators who take down a ruthless Earth King who bares numerous similarities to Chin and Ozai from the original series. Looking at the main page for the fanon, it is great to see that the author uses many real-world connections to draw up his story, most notably drawing inspiration for the main antagonist, Yi Ming, from many real-world conquerors such as Ivan the Terrible.
The story itself clocks in at around 31 chapters, plus a nice epilogue - a reasonable length for a original story that begins and ends on its own. 18 chapters have been released so far, beginning with Unexpected Happenings. Let's dive in!
(Scores are out of 10)
Story: 8.9/ The story begins right away in the first chapter, with our young hero headed to Omashu to fight the tyranny. He is quickly attacked and defeated by a band of young benders, who in turn, later reveal to be his eventual allies. The author keeps the story well-paced, allowing the chapters to develop the plot while also managing to incorporate action sequences here and there. The author also does an excellent job of defining the main characters within the chapter. From the beginning, we have our main protagonist, Senqok, the elite squad of the Liberation Alliance consisting of Shizon, Kabura, Skado, Noki and Ranju, and General Wei, the leader of the rebels. What I especially like is the political tension going on between the Yi Ming and the Fire Lord. It reminds me of how ATLA seamlessly meshed together different plot-lines (Zuko and Iroh running a teashop in Ba Sing Se, Team Avatar looking for Appa, Azula on the hunt) which eventually came together in the finale - The Crossroads of Destiny. It will also be interesting to follow the development of Zoruka, who, at this point is turning out to be very much like Zuko, in terms of being the child of royalty but leaving it behind to join the good guys in an attempt to restore peace.
The only reasons why I dock points is the believablity, which is noted in further detail below, and that lack of killer-suspense that truly leaves readers on the edge of their seats. The chapters often end with cliffhangers, but it doesn't feel satisfying enough, which may be in part due to the choppy writing. Also, when you look at the story at a whole, it does bare similarities to ATLA, in which there is a young group of heroes tasked with the seemingly impossible task of defeating the supreme ruler and his kingdom. This does mar the originality of the story, even moreso when the characters of the fanon have many connections to the characters of ATLA. However, all formalities set aside, the plot is briilliant, and it will be fun to watch Senqok go up against Yi Ming.
Character Development: 8.5/ The main protagonist, Senqok, has a definitive personality that begins with the first chapter. He is courageous, vigorous, and proud of his heritage. He holds a special bond to home that is later explored throughout the story. There also is a bit of continuity with him commonly asking "Including titles?" which is nice. Being a completely new fanon, the author introduces a wide cast of characters, yet manages to give each one their own personality to be defined by. I can already see some sort of budding romance developing within the characters, so that will be interesting to watch. I especially like General Wei's personality - the mighty general with a good sense of humour. In some ways, he reminds me of Iroh and King Bumi.
Points here are docked due to the lack of backstories. In ATLA, each character was fully fleshed out with definitive personalities and strong backstories that explain their current lives. Each character had something to live up to and a general sense of destiny they needed to fulfill. In this story, each character is developed but they lack backstories which would explain their motives and how to came to be a part of the Liberation Alliance. However, it is important to note that there are many chapters not completed and this could be explored later on, perhaps in Chapter 18 and beyond.
Writing: 7.5/ The writing isn't terrible to the point where it is difficult to understand what is going on, but it still does tend to distract the reader. The easiest way to solve this problem would to acquire an editor who edits all chapters after they are released (or before, too). Most of the mistakes fall into the category of tense agreement, punctuation and grammer, and the overusage of dashes. Dashes are neat in the fact they connect points together, but they shouldn't used too much as it tends to disjoint the writing and distract the reader. After writing each chapter, remember to look over it and, for every mistake, reread the whole chapter again. This is a technique my lang. teacher taught me years ago and has benefitted me greatly. Remember not to get tricked up by homophones - accept/except, affect/effect, new/knew, and so forth. For a detailed list of edit guides, I suggest you use this when you proofread your chapters. It's the official editing manual for the Wikia, and has great information on all areas of editing. Also, I recommend you double space after somebody says something, as it looks cleaner.
Before: "I'm tellin' ya, mate, yer dad ain't do any good sending ya off to the Earth Empire... or to send ya off in general, on that part." The elder fisherman's croaky voice pierced the silence. Small waves gently rocked the small fishing boat. A light breeze let the boat glide eastwards continuously, towards the densely wooded area, away from the setting sun. The coastline before them was rocky, rock peaks rising up from the water, cliffs forming the definite boundary between sea and land. "And why exactly would that be?" After long staring, the boy replied. He was clothed, unlike the fisherman's reddish and brownish tones, in a blue tunic and blue trousers. The boat made a slight starboard turn.
After: "I'm tellin' ya, mate, yer dad ain't do any good sending ya off to the Earth Empire... or to send ya off in general, on that part." The elder fisherman's croaky voice pierced the silence. Small waves gently rocked the small fishing boat. A light breeze let the boat glide eastwards continuously, towards the densely wooded area, away from the setting sun. The coastline before them was rocky, rock peaks rising up from the water, cliffs forming the definite boundary between sea and land.
"And why exactly would that be?" After long staring, the boy replied. He was clothed, unlike the fisherman's reddish and brownish tones, in a blue tunic and blue trousers. The boat made a slight starboard turn.
The author however does an excellent job of describing the characters and the environment. The author's visual imagery depictions are especially nice, as they allow the reader to truly visualize the area around the characters and connect with the scene. Thus, I recommend the author keeps up the level of writing (descriptions, imagery, appearances) but work on the writing grammar and punctuation. Again, I recommend getting an editor.
Action: 8.8/ The author incorporates several action sequences within the story. The large-scale battles of the story, which are more found towards the middle-end of the fanon, are excellently described. The author does a nice job describing the emotion and intensity of the troops, allowing readers to become immersed in the conflict. The battles are lengthy, realisticly depicted, and use clever descriptions of the bending (ex. Noki punched forward with the approximate frequency of a hummingbird's wing beat, sending shards of earth towards her foes with each strike). However, the smaller battles in the story in the beginning stages of the story, such as the one in the first chapter, tend to fall prey to general bending descriptions (ex. fireball, water-whip, gust of air) and after time this becomes repetitive and uninteresting. For future note, I would definitely recommend the respective pages for the elements - water, fire, earth, air - as they have great descriptions of each element's fighting styles and the unique techniques and abilities that go with each one.
For example, instead of "blast of air", you could change it to to an "air swipe", or "air punch", and so forth for each of the other abilities. Thus, I recommend the author continues his fantastic job of depicting large-scale wars and skirmishes, but puts close detail into his smaller battles and training sessions, as those are important too.
Believabilty: 9.5/ (A lot of point fives, I know) The believability of a fanon is crucial, as it is always imporant to note that, while a story is being created, it abides to the Avatar universe and the real-world universe. The story itself is believeable enough; a band of heroes rise up against the mighty power, and undergo many trials and problems along the way. As said before, the characters are fleshed out and are very well belieavable, being powerful benders yet having their personal flaws and problems. The only major problem I have her is the Avatar's appearance. This takes place during the reign of the unnamed Fire Avatar before Yangchen, so why has the Avatar not intervened yet? It's alright if the story is meant to not include the Avatar, and in fact, it's also better for this story, but it needs some sort of justification since the unnamed Fire Avatar hasn't interevened yet, and it can't be Avatar Yangchen since she was arguably one the most devoted Avatars there ever was. Yet, besides this somewhat minor problem, the realism does not much pose much a problem and the author does a great job keeping things going smoothly.
Final Score: 8.64
Advice: Continue this fanon and finish it! It truly is a brilliant story you have created, and it would be even better if it didn't have its fair shares of errors. Crackdown on the punctuation and grammar, and see if you can find an editor to polish your chapters. Continue to develop the characters as the homestretch for the fanon nears, and remember that backstories are important. Keep the intensity and emotion of your large battles going, but put more of it into the smaller fights.
I recommend this fanon for anyone hoping to get a break of the Avatar and head into the past for a journey with a waterbending protagonist who allies with a group of powerful rebels and a brave general to overthrow a grueling tyrant and his vast army that has allowed him to conquer most of the world. Epic wars and conspiracies await!
Note: The story is quite graphic and deals with very mature themes, so this may not be for younger readers.