Avatar Just Made 1 Power Absolutely Horrifying

Warning: Contains spoilers for The Dawn of Yangchen.

One new detail provided by the latest Avatar: The Last Airbender book, The Dawn of Yangchen, is an idea of how horrifying one specific aspect of being the Avatar can be. While various stories in the franchise have focused on the powers and the responsibilities of the Avatar, the physical and mental characteristics have gone largely unexplored by comparison. The Dawn of Yangchen ends up doing a lot in that regard, and what it ends up doing adds a truly terrifying element to being the Avatar.

A key aspect of the Avatar is that they’re able to form a connection with all of the other Avatars they reincarnated from. This lets them communicate with their past lives and access their memories by harnessing spiritual energy, and as shown with Aang and Kyoshi in Book 2, they can even have one of their past lives possess them for a certain amount of time. All of that usually only comes about when the current Avatar needs advice or is dealing with something that relates to a past Avatar, so stories within the franchise haven’t focused heavily on it.


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By comparison, The Dawn of Yangchen does a lot to add to the reincarnation aspect of the Avatar, and it does so by showing how horrible it can be. Thanks to her high spiritual abilities, Avatar Yangchen was born with an inability to control her connection to her past lives, which means that she can’t stop herself from getting trapped in their memories or hearing all of their voices at once. This has caused Avatar: The Last Airbender's Yangchen stress and anguish for all of her life to the point that she’s afraid that her entire personality is going to be absorbed into her past lives and become completely indistinguishable from them. All of this serves to add a far darker element to the Avatar’s cycle of reincarnation than what was seen in previous stories.

How Avatar Yangchen’s Past Lives Made Her Lose Her Sister

The Dawn of Yangchen

Avatar Yangchen’s inability to control her past lives also affected her on a personal level by causing her to lose her sister, Jetsun. Jetsun guided Yangchen through her first trip to the Spirit World where they encountered a trio of shishi, and the fear that a previous Avatar had of them caused them to turn violent and attack. Jetsun had to sacrifice herself to the shishi so Yangchen could return to her body, which resulted in Jetsun’s soul becoming trapped in the Fog of Lost Souls, the same place Avatar's Admiral Zhao was trapped in during The Legend of Korra. All of that happened because Yangchen couldn’t control her connection to her past lives and shows that it’s something that can hurt more people than just herself.

The reincarnation aspect of the Avatar hasn’t been explored that much in the franchise, but what The Dawn of Yangchen adds to it shows how truly terrible it could be. Not only did Avatar Yangchen’s inability to control her connection to her past lives stress her out to the point that she feared losing her mind, but it even led to her sister getting her soul trapped in Avatar: The Last Airbender' Spirit World. A sequel appears to be in the works, so if Yangchen will ever gain control of her abilities, it will probably be then.