|Reviews for Distorted Reality|
| Old fashioned Soul 2360 chapter 70 . 12/17/2022
The fact that you were able to finish this on it’s anniversary is incredible.
I think you should take some well earned vacation from writing fanfic for a while, I do hope there is another fic as good as this from you one day but I’m in no hurry for a new one. Thank you for sharing an incredible journey with the entire Nickelodeon Avatar community. And thank you for taking time in making this as good as it could possibly be. Until then I will wait.
Stay safe man.
| BlueBaller chapter 70 . 12/17/2022
Thank you for your dedication! Not many would show such commitment that even after a decade they would come back to finish a story, most would just abandon it. So again Thank you for this wonderful story you have blessed us with.
| Guest chapter 65 . 12/16/2022
So Hakoda knows of the invasion from Katara and is prepping and also managed to make the moon appear ahead of schedule, damn
| CowTrain chapter 66 . 12/12/2022
This review took a little longer than I expected to write because there is so much to talk about here! The Invasion of Aniak'to is the main focus of this chapter, yet at the same time, it's more like Aniak'to is a center of a battle that is spanning far outside the city's walls and domes. Ranging from the Hakoda's complex maneuvering of his forces to counter the Allies' invasion to Aang meeting with the last lion turtle on his own terms to Sokka battling his father's old friend Gilak, the finale continues to build towards the massive climax, convincingly tying the many strands of Distorted Reality together, yet still leaving the audience wondering how it's all going to end.
The biggest revelation from this chapter is that Hakoda's plans are not that simple in this world: He's playing four-dimensional chess with the Alliance Invasion Force, albeit with some help. In "The Drowned," we learn that Seiryu throws his support behind Hakoda in order to fight his proxy war with Sedna. Although not mentioned, Hakoda most likely received word of the Alliance invasion force, assistance in planning his own invasion force and the defense of Aniak'to, and the initiative in the form of pushing Seiryu's moon's arrival five days earlier. While Aang and Azula's belief that Hakoda would invade the Earth Kingdom turns out to be false (Hakoda appears to have been playing Azula as well), Katara's belief that Hakoda would directly invade the to the Fire Nation islands also turns out to be false: While the Northern Fleet is assigned to invade the Fire Nation Islands, Hakoda would send a feint attack force towards the Earth Kingdom that would destroy the Earth Kingdom fleet while his main invasion force would take the North Pole's Agna Qel'a to reunite the two poles and gain the Nightseer's power.
The Alliance Invasion Force is thus falling into a trap in Aniak'to. In a situation much like "The Day of Black Sun," the air fleets barely manages to deliver Sokka and his crew over the city to Winter's Heaven only to find it devoid of significant resistance, only Malina, who failed her job as a fail-safe assassination agent should Hakoda try to move on the North, sitting in a similar spot to where Aang, Toph, and Sokka found Azula in "The Day of Black Sun." With the Wolverine-Skunks' resistance being suppressed all across the South Pole and the various clans converging on the capital to repel the invaders, Gilak and his troops hope to hold the Alliance's Invasion Force in order to allow for his allies to crush the army and for Hakoda to carry out his naval plan. On top of this, huge domes of ice had been erected since Iroh, Toph, and Sangmu returned from their scouting mission. These domes over the city were not to defend against aerial attack, but rather keep the chi suppression gas that targets only Earth and Firebenders, chemical warfare practices that were foreshadowed in Book 3: Water, Chapter 15: The Aniak'to Alchemical Institute, within the city. Combined with civilians still remaining within the city that prevent wide scale destruction, despite the Alliance's continuous push into the city, every step they take only continues to bury them further into the trap laid prepared for them.
However, both Aang and Hakoda's endgames do not seem totally apparent by the end of this chapter. Aang and the invasion force seem to be expected to be held-up but not totally destroyed, and Hakoda is letting the Northern fleet invade the Fire Islands while he destroys the Earth Kingdom fleet, bypasses the Earth Kingdom, and conquers the North to possibly unite with the Nightseer, but for what end? In addition, Thod had spoken of "best[ing] the skies." What could that possibly mean?
With the Alliance's hand forced by the premature arrival of Seiryu's moon, the siege of Aniak'to begins in full force. Flashing between various Alliance perspectives of the battle gives the audience a good picture of what's going on across the battlefield. After Sokka's crew discovers the relatively empty halls of Winter's Heaven, the focus shifts back to the front line spearheaded by Toph, the Freedom Fighters, and the combined force of the Earth Kingdom and Ozai's Armies. The battle shifts back to the command post in the rear where Aang and the White Lotus members discuss their plans before returning to Katara and Zuko's escape and Sokka's battle with Gilak towards the center of the city. The action feels chaotic and vast, yet all easy to follow.
Small moments within the early moments of the battle stand out. The flak from the harpoons, arrows and icicles feel fierce. Stink bombs and Malina's metal blade continue to highlight the multicultural nature of Hakoda's Water Empire. Katara keeping herself up by the sheer force of her bloodbending and cane continues to be an impressive feat to imagine. And that was just in the opening of the battle.
Aang's quest to seek out the last Lion-Turtle itself was also an epic build-up throughout this story. Opening up the Northern Spirit Portal to help restore balance had brought the Northern Assassins' into the Spirit World in the process. The Northern Assassins' reunification with Aang, Azula, and Sangmu felt natural and flowed well; two two groups managed to catch up to each other quickly. Such a pattern of characters catching up with each other so easily and naturally occurs later when the Northern Assassins arrive at the battle of Aniak'to. The feelings of those with old grudges and relationships like Jet are not simply ignored but briefly addressed before putting it to the side due to present circumstances. Such details are acknowledged in a way that keeps the story going.
Through it all, the build-up to and the final meeting between Aang and Xuanwu was epic. Xuanwu is the epitome of a great deus ex machina with his massive presence and his powerful gift. It sounds like Aang has got his ideas set on what he has to do, thus allowing him to gain the power from Xuanwu and fix the problems of the world. Aang did mention that he decided that he has to kill Hakoda to fulfill his promise to Sedna in this world, despite going against his morals, but we do not know exactly what he will do to fix the world. Will he return home? It kinda sounds like he since he and Azula are saving their last goodbyes for a final moment, but there still is uncertainty to what the future holds.
As an aside, I'm both surprised and happy to see that Azula's kinda acting as the emotional support and comedic relief here, but I hope she gets her moment in this finale as well.
With all but Sangmu returning to the South and joining the battle of Aniak'to, three major developments happen within the city. First, Sokka faces off Gilak, allowing Zuko and Katara to make their way back to the frontlines. Gilak, as one of the volunteers whose strength became boosted due to Thod's chi enhancement along with his warriors and waterbenders, engage in a Seiryu's Moon-boosted Sokka in an fierce battle of redemption and honor. Sokka shows off his growth in the world by battling his father's old friend in their exchange of blows and dialogue. The battle ends with Gilak and Sokka being unable to reconcile their understandings of the Water Tribe's philosophy of adaptability: Gilak sees adaptability as being a means for survival; it has its limits when it comes to holding onto his past identity of Water Tribe dominance. Sokka, on the other hand, sees adaptability being open to new beliefs and good relations with the rest of the world. Gilak's last few words reveal Hakoda's plot of holding the Invasion force in Aniak'to before succumbing to the overwhelming stress that Thod's chi enhancement had on his old body. The battle was magnificent, one that I need to reread to both better understand and just plain enjoy again.
The second is the frontline fighters' loss of Nagi and Toph to the chi suppression gas. As the two fight in the frontlines of the invasion force, gas from a punctured metal tank takes down Toph and Nagi in their group, forcing Longshot and Smellerbee in a stand over their fallen reminiscent of when Jet died in ATLA's "Lake Laogai." Their scene ends with the small group separated from the rest of the force and water and the Wolf's Skulls closing in, telling us that we may be seeing the first Alliance casualties or captives of the battle in the next chapter.
The third is the backline Gaang's new mission to destroy the source of the chi suppression gas. With Zuko, however, he is saved by the "extraction mission" composed of members from the Northern Assassins and Azula, the latter having taken medicine given by Spriggy to counter the chi suppression gas. The two trios of the Fire Nation and Water Tribe women fighting alongside each other was epic. Too many times people criticize these moments of female warriors getting together as forced, but here, now that was just plain cool and unexpected to imagine the two groups fighting alongside each other. Recognizing that Spriggy's antidote could not be dispersed to all the invasion force in time, the gas was being dispersed through pipes running throughout the city, and that they simply could destroy the tanks due to the sheer number of tanks and the domes keeping the gas inside, the crew's mission to extract Zuko, Katara and Sokka turns into a search-and-destroy mission.
In the Alliance's backlines, before the Northern Assassins left for their extraction mission, they and Aang return from the Spirit World to trade information with White Lotus, marking diverging paths between the three groups. Aang's place in the battle had changed: With Hakoda moving northward, he, in addition to the older White Lotus members who were acting as the invasion force's reserves but will now act as Aang's accompanying force, must go to the North via the Northern Portal. As a small detail, I liked that Kanna gave the same declaration of preventing a family feud to Aang as Iroh, choosing to stay in the South.
I appreciate the three small couple moments sprinkled throughout this invasion. First it was Mai and the Northern Assassins rescuing Zuko and Katara. Then it was Suki finding Sokka after Sokka defeated Gilak, which gave a cool moment where both Sokka and Suki do a good job recounting their character development in the most in-character ways before returning to the fight. Finally, Aang and Azula's parting at the command post was a small sweet moment between the two, showing the amount of trust and care they have for each other in this stage of their relationship. None of these moments felt forced; they all felt natural and beautiful in the tapestry that is this chapter.
Although Sangmu initially isolates herself from the rest of the Gaang by going to the North alone, she gives herself her own quest in this massive finale. Is she going to do some Jinora-level spirit purification with her astral projection regarding the Nightseer's influence? I predict that she's going to face something huge here though that I think none of the characters are going to expect given the Nightseer's lasting presence and Hakoda sailing up North.
Lastly, I'm not convinced of Mai being Suya's reincarnation, since her story feels the most underdeveloped and out of the blue. I hope the next chapter elaborates more on why she is Suya's reincarnation more than Mai simply having fought against the Nightseer's extreme pessimism.
Overall, what happens in the chapter is adequately covered by its title: It's about the Alliance's invasion. It successfully fulfills the axiom of war "No plan survives first contact with the enemy" that pays homage to "The Day of Black Sun" while combining elements from "Sozin's Comet." As always, this work's treatment of the various cultures inspired by real-life cultural elements has been done expertly and respectfully, making such elements a part of the world while still referencing the real-life inspiration. The future of this world is still in the balance, the pieces on the chessboard are still being moved, and the picture is still not clear enough to guess how this entire story will end. Based on the events of "Sozin's Comet" my guess is the next few chapters will take us to the Water Tribe Fleets, but that still leaves many questions unanswered: How will the various battles of this DR world resolve? What is Aang going to do about Hakoda? What is he going to do about the chaos of the multiple worlds? How is this story going to end? What are we to learn about the various themes of order and chaos? Of balance? Of crossing borders? Of love and friendship? Of loss and pain? Of good and evil? Of interconnection and independence? Of fate and self-determination? Of the difference between one's self being determined by innate qualities or environmental determinism? Of the interconnectedness of culture? Of doing what is right in general?
As always, and it is amazing that we are already here, thank you so much Ogro for writing this beautiful work! I am looking forward to seeing how the last two chapters of not only this well-written finale, but also of all this whole wonderful massive work that is Distorted Reality, concludes this coming week!
| Matheus Bezerra de Lima chapter 66 . 12/10/2022
Very thrilling chapter, and I'm specially looking forward to Aang’s final battle, and his final decision. And great character writing as always.
| Rocket Axxonu chapter 66 . 12/10/2022
It’s honestly always astonishing how every single chapter manages to blow me away again. So much happens this chapter, bringing so many people back together in ways brief but touching, and also insane new twists. I have no words for how incredible this is, but here they are anyway:
Kuei—I love this openingscene, bridging us from the shock of the reveal at the end of the last chapter and showing it from the perspective of Kuei and his side of things. The setting details so perfectly reflect the mood and give us insight into how Kuei is feeling; the role he and his people have been given in all this is painful and less glorious reason to risk their lives in battle, yet it’s a necessary one and he accepts it with a courage and solemnity that more than proves his worth as king.
Initial attack on the city—wow, just brilliant writing here. There is so much captured here all at once, we get a sense for the epic scale of the battle as well as interesting uses of bending and just getting to see what Sokka can do with the power of the moon behind him. The appearance of the ice domes over the city makes for such a striking mental image, but also a mystery and sense of foreboding that something is going on that they haven’t predicted, and it’s a fear that turns out to be justified in multiple ways.
Aang’s reunion with the Northern team/parting with Sangmu/Azula—It’s strange to think of just how long Aang has been separated from the Northern team, and it was so great to finally see them come together again, and see just how much has happened on each side since then. The Northern team defeating the Nightseer and teaming up with Suki and Ghashiun as allies, the Aang team joining forces with Katara, Azulaang happening—I love how they’re all full of questions for each other but there’s not really time right now to answer them all, this scene has such great funny moments (Ty Lee hugging Ghashiun and Suki, such a great reference to the Kyoshi Warrior scene in canon, ha), while also being powerful and heartfelt. Seeing Sangmu decide where she needed to be to capitalize on her skills was so nice, and also I just loved the later parting exchange between Azula and Aang—Azula had wanted to be able to fight alongside and support Aang, but given how far their relationship has come in terms of trusting each other it was so fitting that she would be able to see and accept what was for the best.
Aang’s conversation with the lion turtle—It’s such an interesting reveal to realize that in DR canon world one of the differences between how things played out there and show canon was that Aang never met the lion turtle. The buildup to finding the lion turtle, the place where light and darkness meet, was in itself such a fascinating concept and so thematically perfect; I can’t remember much of what we know about lion turtles from canon but the idea that they are a being that embodies a perfect balance between light and dark, order and chaos, stability and creation makes a lot of sense, given their early role in both protecting and preserving humanity while also granting bending. I just love how the descriptions and Aang’s interaction with Xuanwu captures the sense of ancientness and majesty of these beings. (The line ‘Its face resembled a stone carving of a fierce deity, wisdom in its eyes and war in its bared teeth, with a mane like a dragon’s beard’ is just so striking, I love the wording, yet even more I love how perfectly it reflects the subconscious impression the lion turtle gives us in the show.) The otherworldliness to this interaction is captured here so perfectly.
Malina, Hakoda’s plan—I always love seeing how you incorporate the Water Tribe characters from the comics in related yet new ways, and seeing Malina come back in an arranged marriage to Hakoda felt so strangely fitting. (And of course also a great way to get to see Katara stirred up again, canon-Katara’s reaction to Hakoda/Malina was mild by comparison.) But here we see how the specific situation of the DR world and characters changes things—and of course the North and Arnook would be wary of Hakoda and the South. The politics of the Southern Water Tribe with its many clans, some allied together, others opposed, has always been so fascinating, and of course there would be even more behind-the-scenes politics between the North and the South, and it’s such a great twist to see Malina in the middle of it. She married Hakoda for the purpose of watching him and protecting her people, and now that she was unable to do it you can’t help but feel for her.
The reveal that Hakoda’s target was the North—I absolutely love this as a twist. Of course as Katara already pointed out the Earth Kingdom wouldn’t have been a smart target for the Water Tribes, and I love how we’re set up to think that the ‘twist’ is that Hakoda will be targeting the Fire Nation islands instead. However, given how much focus we’ve had on the distorted Water Tribes’ tendency to fight within itself, not to mention Arnook’s plans to try to make his own people more powerful (we see now that his move to strengthen their people was not just an idle or greedy desire for more power, there was a looming threat he correctly predicted), we can see looking back that in a way this has been where things have been leading all along, even as it’s still a shock.
Toph/Nagi/Freedom Fighters—There’s something just fun about seeing Toph back among the freedom fighters, fighting alongside them. Making Toph a part of the freedom fighters was such a strangely fitting change for DR that felt so right while also changing Toph’s background and also herself as a character in subtle yet interesting ways, and it’s so great to go back and see those connections brought back again. I just love how these fights flow together to feel both big and epic and also capture the individual skill of everyone as they work together. (Also the moment where they get inside the city and see the ice domes—I just love the mental image of the giant domes, but also the mystery it creates, especially as Toph and Nagi both find themselves physically and mentally compromised.)
The Aniak’to Institute—Ha, this is partly me again just loving comic stuff coming in, but Thod’s role in things has been so great to watch. The whole concept of such a place makes a strange kind of sense in the Water Tribes and I love this as an explanation for the mystery of the ice domes and seeing part of the team unable to fight at full strength. The challenge this creates for the team is so interesting and unique and gives some members of the team a new mission different from that of the others, so good.
Reunions—Ha, I’ve always kind of loved stories where characters are kept apart through a large portion of it, it makes when they finally come back together again all the more impactful. I love how these moments all manage to be funny yet meaningful even while woven perfectly within the pace of the overall chapter. For Katara/Yue/Suki, this one was fun for just how it contrasts with the Mai/Ty Lee betrayal from canon; they’re all on the same side now even if they’ve come to it by different routes and with different people. Suki/Sokka’s was just so great in how it captures how Sokka may not be the most eloquent when he’s trying to express how he feels (especially when there’s an entire book’s worth of events he’s desperately wanting to catch her up on), and also on Suki’s side her sense of guilt for how things ended with Book 2, and I love that sense of kind of funny awkwardness that of course all gets sorted out in the end, as well as how, for canon Sokka, seeing Suki again impacts him after having lost her in his own world. Mai/Zuko, honestly it’s kind of weirdly fitting that Mai sweeps in to rescue just when Katara’s ready to leave him in the snow, and I love seeing them work together as mediators; it’s understated and kind of the opposite of Sokka’s overchattiness (I mean, how long have Maiko been apart, and all Zuko gets by way of explanation for how they’re there is ‘it’s a long story’, classic Mai), and just so them.
Sokka-Gilak fight—It goes without saying that this fight is epic, Sokka under the power of the moon is able to really break out and do some creative and powerful bending, and it’s awesome to watch. The fact Gilak can’t bend but is under the influence of some of Thod’s drugs in some ways makes the fight even more unique, and the moment where he compares Sokka’s gifts to Hakoda’s is so interesting because it feels so true, with Hakoda’s willingness to work with and acknowledge the strengths of those of the other nations, even as Gilak means it as an insult. Also just the idea of bloodbending being used as the nonviolent option—the irony in that is so powerful, and demonstrates in some ways the difference between the way Sokka thinks in contrast with Katara.
Whew, once again amazing chapter. It brings together so many moments we’ve been waiting for with character reunions while also upping the ante, and makes such amazing use of all the detail you’ve set up in the setting of Aniak’to up to now. I can’t imagine how complex it was to try to weave so many threads together, but it was the perfect combination of big and epic and building to even more big and epic, while not forgetting the small scale character moments along the way.
Fantastic work as always, can’t wait to see the final chapters go up!
| Rocket Axxonu chapter 65 . 12/10/2022
Whew, it's hard to believe we're all finally here at the final chapters, and what a start. There’s so much to say, let’s dive right in:
Opening dream—Absolutely loved this opening, after so many flashbacks throughout the story we’re finally starting in on the events that were the catalyst for the fall of Aang’s world, and for the story as a whole. The imagery is so powerful and oppressive, and I love getting the changed details, such as Azula being a part of the invasion of the Earth Kingdom, and concluding with the painfully poignant line of Iroh’s death. It’s just horrible and marvelous all at once.
Hakoda POV—This scene is so striking in so many ways. I love the way Chit Sang chooses to reaffirm his allegiance to the Water Tribes while even he seems to feel a guilt for what he’s about to do that he intends to die in battle rather than live through it—the physical image of the tattoo carved onto his own face really brings to life both his inner turmoil yet deliberate commitment in a way that’s so powerful. Once again Hakoda’s portrayal is so distinctive in capturing how harsh and villainous he is, as fitting the big enemy that has to be defeated as Ozai was in canon. And yet, I love how there’s such a clarity to his inner voice that’s both fitting of his culture in the distorted world, yet also echoes the Hakoda of canon. I just love the contrast of his cold words yet internal confidence in Chit Sang’s commitment—he values Chit Sang as a soldier and doesn’t care about blood, but is harsh and demanding in making him display the silent dignity and confidence he wants his people to embody. (Also I love how this scene works as foreshadowing to when we find out about his true plans in the next chapter.)
Aang/Azula bonding—it’s so great to see these two get time together to talk. I love how the differences between the way they see the world are brought out, yet how they still care and trust one another, too. Azula still feels she would want to kill Hakoda if she could, but she’s realized now it’s Aang’s decision and one she can’t take away from him. We see in this chapter so clearly how Azula has changed from the earlier books—where in Book 1 she was all about focusing on the fight with the Water Tribes (to the point where she didn’t want to have to take detours for Zuko’s training if it got in the way of her own), when Aang at first means to pass up looking for the guru in favor of focusing on the invasion, Azula takes it into her own hands to get him to go see the guru anyway, because she recognizes it’s important to him. I love the sense of how far each of them have come and how their relationship has developed, and seeing how that change plays out in concrete ways.
Water Tribe plans—loved the conversation about the Fire Nation, why it would be the more likely target for an invasion than the Earth Kingdom. The fact that firebending and waterbending have such different strengths and weaknesses that it would affect military strategy is one of those interesting side effects of this type of AU, where the details of a swap actually can have far-reaching ripple effects, and I love seeing that brought out and how it helps subvert expectations when it comes to the events in canon. (Side note, can I also just say, I love that Toph and Sangmu are friends, and it absolutely does indeed take someone weird to like Toph’s nicknames)
Yue—seeing Yue taking command in her father’s absence was just plain awesome. Even though, as she points out, the chiefs would likely elect a new High Chief rather than accept Yue as leader, she is still blood royalty and that does seem as though it would give her a level of authority when there is no new leader yet. (Hahn trying to figure out a title for Yue made me more happy than it should.) Also just nice to see the team getting to relax and bond a bit, even if we know it’s going to be shortlived.
The Guru—loved the portrayal of this character. Not only is it nice to get a female guru but from her description she also has such a unique look that so fits with the eccentricity you’d expect a guru to have. I also love the fact she’s so isolated that there’s a lot of spiritual things that Aang knows from all his travels and interactions with spirits that she doesn’t. It’s an interesting reversal of the usual dynamic you see with characters seeking out gurus and makes it distinct and different from his meeting with someone like guru Pathik, and also serves as a nice worldbuilding reminder that gurus are all different with their own histories, rather than just a character type that are all the same. I loved the conversation undoing Aang’s assumption of ‘dark and light’ being the same as ‘good and evil,’ it’s such an easy mistake to make and it’s an important distinction when talking about balance in the way it’s intended in many eastern religions.
Spirit World—wow, okay, I just have to make a note about how beautiful the prose is in describing the spirit world. It feels so beautiful and magical and dark and dangerous all at once at different times in a way that just feels so true to what the Spirit World is meant to be, and just brings the setting to life in an amazing way.
Ha, wow, I’m always somehow so shocked to go back to look over these chapter for a review and realize how much there is to talk about. Such amazing work as usual—onto the next one!
| CowTrain chapter 65 . 12/10/2022
After a four-month wait, Baithin has blessed us by posting the first two parts of Distorted Reality's magnificent finale of Distorted Reality. Fifteen years in the making and we are now approaching the end of DR's writing, yet never once did this work fail to keep me invested in the characters, the story, and the overall themes that transcend this distorted world of Avatar: The Last Airbender. However long it took to plan and conceive this opening is reflected in this chapter's meticulously long yet planned writing, making every word count and foreshadowing the fabulous great quality of both the plot and the writing to come.
First, I liked the choice of making this finale separate from Book Three, for not only was this finale conceived as a single block, it just feels right as the final culmination of the entire work that is Distorted Reality.
Opening with the contrasting heartlessness of Fire Lord Azula with the heartfelt moment in Aang and Azula's relationship along with a little untold adventure between Iroh, Sangmu and Toph that gives the audience a little place to make headcanons, the Gaang's unification reminds us that this story is about a group of people united in their friendship working to restore peace to the world together. The group hug pays homage to the beginning of Part One of ATLA's finale where there's a group hug that initially excludes Zuko. In this case, however, Katara stays out of the hug and instead of telling the bad news later, Katara says it now: the Water Tribe plans to attack the Fire Islands first, not the Earth Kingdom continent. This news is largely perceived to be irrelevant by the Gaang other than making it more personal for Azula, though that may turn out to be more important than initially thought.
Aang's figuring out what to do about Hakoda runs throughout this chapter. Should he kill Hakoda? Or should he not? Is there another way? The dialogue about this issue is much more mature compared to ATLA. Framing the decision based on preserving the self and doing the right thing, comparing Aang to Aniak in making deals with spirits, and trying to understand the ever-fleeting concept of achieving balance was well done. We still do not know what will happen, but we know that Aang's thinking about how to end the conflict is much more complex and mature: Is his decision as simple as choosing between two sides of a coin? Or is there another way?
As much as I did not like what had happened in the North earlier in Distorted Reality, I really liked how the aftermath was dealt with. It's stable, all the characters are cleaning up after the battle, both physically and emotionally, and relationships are being mended, nurtured and grown, a restful moment before they are all called back into the portal. If I had to choose a favorite part, it would be Ty Lee's cute way of honoring Noota, though the relationship between Haru and Ghashiun comes close behind.
As Aang, Azula, Sangmu, Momo, Sabi, and Appa fly through the conflicting storms of light and dark spirits, Azula's favoring of killing Hakoda, but her acceptance of Aang's decision acts as a great introduction for framing Aang's thoughts upon meeting the Guru: this is about Aang coming to terms about the future with the help of an old friend. I liked how it wasn't Gyatso, since that would have been an extreme deus ex machina to deal with in the finale, but rather Guru Tootega who meets them, an indirect way of reuniting Aang with his former master and friend. Guru Tootega seems like an ordinary person who practices her hospitable and knowledgeable ways, a character that I really find heartwarming and lovely to read. She does not know everything, nor does she claim to, yet she asks important questions, questions that help Aang find his way. She is a guide, a person that really seems to have learned and lived with Gyatso, yet she is her own person who has her own presence in this world. That, coupled with the lovely fruit pies makes her seem like this world's oracle. Like the delicious symbol of the cookie in The Matrix, the fruit pies were a great symbol of reaching out to the Gaang while simply being a great honorable homage to Gyatso and homely pastry for the characters made out of love.
May the great deus ex machina of the Lion-Turtles ever reign supreme! I am actually not upset that the Lion-Turtle is back in this finale, for they were an important and epic part of ATLA's finale. I like how they are framed as children of Raava and Vaatu, the creators of the Earth, the perfect union between light and darkness, the guide for "those with absolute will worthy of their wisdom," in some ways, the great sages of the past spoken of in East Asian mythology.
Speaking of which, I love the rhetoric of borders and bridges. This running theme of boundaries and the movement between them has been expertly developed throughout this work. I love how even now, this theme continues to grow and develop. Also, I still love the fact that there are literal portals between worlds here too.
The discussion between Aang and Tootoga was a long yet very insightful passage. If I had to summarize it in a couple words, it would be that Guru Tootega is a guru in the sense that she simply studies the way of the world. In order to return home, Aang needs to seek out the last lion-turtle, the perfect being of balance who could help Aang with his conundrum of dealing with the countless worlds. However, in the context of questioning the reality of true balance and perfection, Aang asks what Gyatso would advise for defeating with Emperor Hakoda, to which she answers that while everyone has the potential for good or evil based on their choices, staying true to oneself is one of the most important considerations one must make throughout life. This section is truly one that I need to read through again to see all the thoughts that were developed, for the themes and discussion here are very well-developed.
Meanwhile, Zuko and Sokka's perspectives give a good outside perspective marching towards Aniak'to while being entertaining, especially with the Astronomer. Well done!
Vaatu and Raava coming to an agreement of opening of the portals to create a balance in dark and light spirits to bring about the last lion-turtle and uniting the Northern Assassins with the Gaang by the Tree of Time within the Spirit World was something I did not expect. Also well done! I feel the pieces of this massive marvelous finale coming together.
Throughout this section, I love the light-hearted comedy relief that comes out of Azula of all people. Whether that be Azula being unimpressed with Vaatu to her making the meta-commentary on opening the Northern Portal: "It sounds so simple," Azula said, shrugging. "But I won't question it. We should take the easy solutions whenever we can" (Well-played, well done!) to Azula pointing out the large goose spirits at the end, it's nice to see the atmosphere continuing to be light despite the serious nature of this work. As an aside, I feel like some of the best works can also be seen as comedies if perceived from a certain perspective. After all, if you can't laugh in the face of the absurdity that is life, what is there to enjoy?
Ominous foreshadowing lies within the Water Tribe perspectives. Chit Sang has an odd amount of focus with his facial tattoo representing how Chit Sang attempts to reaffirm his loyalty via external expression here. Chit Sang looking to clear his mind and Thod prescribing brainwashing by Long Feng was also clever. Why so much focus on Chit Sang? Perhaps his story will develop much more in the future. Thod's comments on taming the skies on the other hand seems to foreshadow much larger events coming up regarding the spirits of the sky. Looking forward to what that entails!
Seiryu's moon coming five days earlier? Now that was a surprise, to be sure, but a welcome one. This makes sense since Hakoda had worked a deal with Seiryu earlier in "The Drowned." May the treadmill towards the finale ever continue to increase!
With that, I will proceed to read the next part on the edge of my seat, asking the question, "What's going to happen next?" In the coming weeks, I plan to review each chapter individually as I read them before providing a culminating review of the finale after the release of Part Four. Afterwards, I will take some time to put together an overall review of the entire work that is Distorted Reality. Even as the work comes to a close, it is important to remember that every end is a new beginning. What that will be, nobody knows for sure, but in the meantime, it is important to celebrate what has been done in the present on behalf of the efforts of the past and the hopes of the future.
| zigzagdoublezee chapter 66 . 12/9/2022
Wow, what a climax!
I totally 100% agree, it was a genius move on Emperor Hakoda's part to trap the invaders within Aniak'to itself.
But instead, he's headed to Agna Qel'a to confront this Nightseer?
Sorry, I've been having a rather tough time following every little plot point in these later chapters.
I'm amazed at Katara's tenacity and insane skill level.
Despite being wounded, she's pretty much unstoppable compared to those who were foolhardy enough to come at her!
Thod really outdid himself here, I'll say that.
I've never heard of anything like a weaponised chi-blocking gas.
Sounds more like something that could've been used by Amon and the Equalists in LOK.
Gilak looks like he's taken his world's version of steroids or some other illegal, destructive stimulant.
It gives him a temporary yet tremendous boost, but once the effect wears off, he comes down crashing.
I can't help but feel sorry for him.
So Malina was here to stop Emperor Hakoda and finish him off after getting close to him, but failed to do so as he suddenly left for Agna Qel'a ahead of schedule?
| Angelwings2002 chapter 66 . 12/9/2022
Again, ending gave me chills! I loved this chapter and I can’t believe it is almost over! This is gonna be so exciting! Geez, everything was so good! Great work, as always!
| Angelwings2002 chapter 65 . 12/9/2022
Oh my gosh that ending! Chills! The only reason this review is short because I want to read the next chapter! Wooo!
| shadowyshadow chapter 1 . 11/14/2022
I have read a lot of atla fanfic. I think the reason I took so long to read this one is that I usually don't enjoy AUs. This has been an exception to that rule. Fantastic story. I look forward to reading the conclusion soon. Thank you for all the hard work and time you have put into this :)
| Snowleopardcheetah chapter 64 . 11/2/2022
I've spent weeks working my way through this fic, and all I can say is wow. You've written such an awesome story, building up this alternate world so deeply and balancing more different plot threads than I could ever do. You're great at keeping concepts from the canon and making them your own. I really think this is the best Avatar AU I've ever read.
| Dr Sphee chapter 64 . 10/24/2022
I just finished reading this story in it's (current) entirety for the first time. I'm amazed at how well this shifted from a "Zuko and Azula swap with Sokka and Katara" into what it has become now. While there were definitely a few points of the story that don't fit within the original story of ATLA/LoK lore, especially where the spirit world is concerned, as well as a few holes in the story itself, this story still remains as one of the best fan fictions I have ever read, even if that list consists of only a few stories. Keep up the great work, I look forward to reading how this story concludes.
| Roth Prime chapter 44 . 10/2/2022
"My brave soldier boy..."
Oh, come on man...