Avatar: How Did Chin the Conqueror Rise to Power?

The history of Avatar: The Last Airbender is somehow both richly detailed and a perpetual mystery. Every scrap of information proves to be a treasure trove of lore to the world of fantastical bending arts, and yet these details only stoke fans' curiosity for more. For a perfect example, look no further than the tale of Chin the Conqueror. He nearly took over the entire world, and yet his backstory was contained to a few minutes of a single episode. However, plenty of other details hint at the larger story of Chin's rise to power and how the fearsome Earthbender nearly bent the entire Earth to his will. F.C. Yee's The Rise of Kyoshi in particular offers an in-depth look at the Earth Kingdom where Chin the Conqueror rose to power.

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Chin the Conqueror from Avatar
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Much of the novel focuses on the problem of the bandit hordes known as daofei harassing the countryside of the Earth Kingdom. In the absence of a strong Avatar to maintain order and in a civic structure where most Earth Kingdom nobles cloister themselves away in fortresses safe from the daofei's reach the outlaws thrive. It is only the intervention of Avatar Kuruk's companions, particularly the Earthbender known as Jianzhu the Gravedigger, that keeps them in check.

But as with any rich history, the story of the daofei and Jianzhu is not so simple. Eager to restore the Avatar to a position of power, the Earthbender proves willing to resort to any means necessary no matter how many lives he needs to sacrifice to bring the teenaged Kyoshi to heel. One of the conniving Earth sage's political maneuvers involves a mass poisoning of Earth Kingdom leadership that takes out a swathe of influential figures maintaining order.

Jianzhu himself comes to a violent end in a duel with Kyoshi, but the site of their duel is notable if a careful reader knows what details to pay attention to. It occurs in Qinchao village, a settlement outside Kyoshi's native Yokoya. Rise of Kyoshi mentions the Chin clan make up the majority of the village. The Chin clan holds great disdain for outsiders and value law and order in their town highly. The description of the town itself may even seem familiar -- in the original series, it was known as Chin Village.

Though it's not explicitly confirmed, Qinchao becoming Chin Village and Yokoya becoming Kyoshi Island makes perfecr sense. The order-obsessed village would be the perfect place for Chin the Conqueror to grow up, and with Jianzhu's death, the environment was ripe for a hostile takeover. Tired of the daofei swarming their lands and uninspired by leaders who are either totally absent or apathetic, it's no wonder the people of the Earth Kingdom would unite behind such a strong figure.

Though the Avatar franchise doesn't need to explain every small detail, it would be great at some point to see the story of Chin's rise taking place firsthand. Given that her final duel with Chin was one of Kyoshi's most legendary acts, it would be the perfect focus for a future Kyoshi novel to cover. As ever with Avatar, learning more only makes the fans' curiosity all the greater.