The War was a major global conflict lasting a century that involved all four nations. It was fought between the Fire Nation and the other three nations, the Earth Kingdom, the Water Tribe and the Air Nomads. The Fire Nation, taking advantage of the absence of the Avatar for most of the war, was able to wreak destruction and widespread loss of life on the other nations, including the infamous genocide of the Air Nomads.
The War was started by Fire Lord Sozin, who wished to expand the Fire Nation into a world-wide empire, and spread what he saw as his nation's prosperity to the rest of the world. The War was actually only supported by a very small amount of the Fire Nation population; virtually only Fire Nation elites actually wished to fight in it, and thus the Fire Nation Military Forces were made up of mostly conscripts with few volunteers.
The war ended several months after the Avatar, Aang, reappeared, due to a combination of Earth Kingdom and Southern Water Tribe efforts, the Avatar's group's destruction of the Air Fleet, Aang's victory over Phoenix King Ozai, and the newly crowned Fire Lord Zuko's intention to restore peace and harmony among the Four Nations.
Sozin's Plan Edit
One hundred and thirty eight years ago, Fire Lord Sozin began to feel that because his nation was so fortunate in so many ways, that he should "share" this prosperity with the rest of the world. He speaks about his plan to his best friend, Avatar Roku and tries to convince him to join him on his quest to expand "the most successful empire in history" but Roku clearly refuses to help him and reminds him that the four nations were meant to be just what they were: four.
Roku's intervention Edit
"I'm sparing you, Sozin. I'm letting you go in the name of our past friendship, but I warn you, even a single step out of line will result in your permanent end". - Roku in "The Avatar and the Fire Lord".
Years later, however, Roku discovers that Sozin has set up colonies in the Earth Kingdom, and comes to rebuke him, leading Sozin to attack him. The two engage in a battle, with Roku finally destroying most of the palace and defeating Sozin, sparing his life because of their past friendship, but warning him never to move forward with his plans again.
Twenty-five years later, Roku's home island is consumed in a volcanic eruption so massive that Sozin can see and feel it from a hundred miles away, and flies in on his dragon to assist his old friend. The two use their Bending to try to contain the lava flow, but are hindered by poisonous gases, which eventually overwhelm Roku, leaving him lying on the ground and begging for his old friend's help. Sozin suddenly realizes, however, that Roku's death would allow him to fulfill his plans, and leaves his old friend to die along with his dragon Fang. The new Avatar was then born into the Air Nomads as Aang.
Early Stages Edit
Strike on the Air Nomads Edit
Main article: Air Nomad Genocide
Fire Lord Sozin decided to launch his attack upon the arrival of Sozin's Comet. With the power of the Comet, Sozin's Firebender armies launched a genocide on the pacifistic Air Nomads in an attempt to kill the new Avatar, Aang, and to halt the Avatar Cycle. This would overcome one of the Fire Nation's biggest obstacles to victory. However, Aang had run away before the attack, thus escaping the carnage. All other Air Nomads were believed to have been killed in the attack, leaving Aang the only known Airbender left alive. Sozin would continue searching for Aang up until his death.
After the first strike against the Air Nomads, Fire Lord Sozin and his army began their first assaults into the Western Earth Kingdom. Sozin's main objective was to secure the coastline of the western part of the continent and use it as staging grounds to advance throughout the Earth Kingdom and to supply his forces. Other objectives were to cripple and destroy key Earth Kingdom trading centers, to weaken the large Earth Kingdom economy. After several battles, including the Battle of Han Tui and The Battle for Taku, the Fire Nation was able to gain a strong foothold in the Earth Kingdom.
The Fire Nation's war effort was focused at the Western theater through the use of a large portion of the Fire Navy, but Sozin expanded northward and eventually was able to send forces to conduct an attempted invasion of the Northern Water Tribe fifteen years after the war began, which ended in failure due to the North Pole's treacherous landscape. The battle saw ground forces from both the Water Tribe and the Fire Nation confront each other directly. It is presumed that the Waterbenders were victorious as they captured several Fire Nation soldiers and uniforms.
Middle Stages - Azulon's Reign Edit
Fire Lord Azulon took the throne after his father's death. He began to advance south to the Southern Water Tribe and eastward towards the walls of Ba Sing Se. Forty years into the War, the Fire Navy attacked the then-prosperous Southern Water Tribe likely for the same reasons they attacked the Air Nomads: to remove a potential front from the War, and in the possibility that the Avatar might have indeed been killed during the Airbender genocide, in which he would be reborn into the Water Tribe. Their first attacks included the bombardment of several Water Tribe villages, but from then on afterwards they restricted their attacks to less costly surprise raids.
Hundreds of Waterbenders across the South Pole fought the Firebenders, but were ultimately defeated when the Fire Nation took all of them prisoner, leaving the non-benders to fend for themselves. Among these prisoners was Hama, who notably developed a deep hatred for her captors but eventually escaped from captivity whilst waging her own personal war on them in secrecy. The Southern Water Tribe remains weak and the victim of constant raids, teetering on the edge of extinction.
The Earth Kingdom came under many large-scale attacks, with battles such as the Battle of Garsai and the fall of the Hu Xin Provinces furthering the Fire Nation's advances into the Kingdom and putting them in control of the entire northwestern third of the continent.
During the War's 94th year, the Southern Water Tribe was attacked in yet another major raid aimed at eliminating any remaining Waterbenders. The attackers, the infamous Southern Raiders, were informed that one last Waterbender, who happened to be Katara, was left in the Southern Water Tribe, and were given orders to kill her. However, Katara remained undiscovered because during this raid, her mother Kya turned herself in as the last Waterbender, in an attempt to protect Katara. Kya was in turn killed, but her heroic act meant that the Fire Nation would never discover the true identity of the last Waterbender, so Katara survived. Katara would later rediscover the Avatar as an indirect result of her mother's actions.
In the Earth Kingdom theater, the Fire Nation enjoyed more success, conquering every major Earth Kingdom city and stronghold until only Omashu (who hindered any major overland progress in the east) and Ba Sing Se were left. Finally, they reached the walls of Ba Sing Se itself, and the 600-Day Siege of Ba Sing Se began. In its final stages, the Fire Nation even managed to break through the Outer Wall, but their advance ended when their leader General Iroh's son was killed, resulting in Iroh's order to retreat.
Late Stages Edit
Hope Fades Edit
In recent years, the ferocity of the war eased slightly with the Fire Nation nearing victory. Ozai was crowned Fire Lord upon Azulon's death. Iroh's forces retreated from the area of Ba Sing Se, although they remained in control of the Western Lake where they began construction of the Drill. The Northern Mountains were left alone, allowing refugees to move in.
However, the conquered western shore of the Earth Kingdom was put under tighter control, where General Fong's Base was the only Earth Kingdom military base left, hidden in a coastal mountain range. Several fortified bases were set up there. Prince Zuko began his search for the Avatar upon his banishment three years before, hoping to reclaim his throne. Zhao, an eager and ambitious naval officer, began plotting the conquest of the Northern Water Tribe. Any attempt at rebellion was dealt with harshly, and the Fire Nation began arresting any Earthbenders in their territory, forcing them into slave labor on offshore factories and shipyards.
To add to the Earth Kingdom's troubles, a large number of their villages and cities were now under Fire Nation control, with their native citizens forced to serve the will of the Fire Lord if they were to avoid persecution. Only non-essential territories were left alone. Even though major cities like Ba Sing Se and Omashu remained free at the time, the Fire Nation clearly controlled the majority of the continent, free to prowl almost anywhere in the north and west unopposed.
Team Avatar Edit
The fortunes of the Earth Kingdom and the Water Tribes made a turn for the better with the sudden return of the Avatar and last Airbender, Aang, who was rediscovered by Katara. This immediately attracted the attention of both Zuko and Zhao, who chased him across the world. As the Avatar traveled north to the North Pole in an attempt to learn Waterbending, Zhao was promoted to Admiral. A small force attacked the Northern Mountains, only to be beaten back in what culminated as the Battle for the Northern Air Temple. However, the defeated force did bring back the Fire Nation an important new invention - the War Balloon.
Upon discovering that the Avatar had succeeded in reaching the North Pole, Zhao ordered almost the entire Navy to advance on the North Pole. However, the Siege of the North was unsuccessful due to the Avatar's intervention, and the fleet was all but destroyed. Zhao was killed by La, the Ocean Spirit after an unsuccessful attempt to kill Tui, the Moon Spirit, in a bid to neutralize the Waterbender's power. With the Fire Nation's main ambition out of the picture and their control of the seas severely weakened, Ozai had his armies continue the slow and steady advances on all the Earth Kingdom fronts, while discreetly sending his daughter to search for the traitorous Iroh and Zuko.
Soon after the defeat at the North Pole, the Fire Nation won a great victory by conquering the city of Omashu, capturing King Bumi in the process, leaving Ba Sing Se the last major Earth Kingdom city unconquered. Though most of the city's population managed to flee under the ruse of a plague, the city itself remained under the control of a Fire Nation governor and was renamed New Ozai by Princess Azula. The loss of Omashu left the route into the southern Earth Kingdom unblocked and defenseless, although the Fire Nation decided to focus most of its military on the Capital, sending only light forces to subjugate the southern villages and townships.
The Fire Nation's next major battle would be at the walls of Ba Sing Se once more. The Drill, a powerful and gigantic mechanized siege weapon, attacked the Outer Wall. Unfortunately for them, the Avatar had just arrived. Though the machine succeeded in drilling through the Wall, it was destroyed by the Avatar, and the attack failed and the newly-drilled hole blocked with wreckage.
Fall of the Earth KingdomEdit
Princess Azula, Mai, and Ty Lee infiltrated the capital of Ba Sing Se, a trio of the Fire Nation Academy's best. Clad in Kyoshi Warrior uniform, stolen from the warriors after having defeated them in an earlier engagement, Azula infiltrated the court of the Earth King and undermined the Dai Li. She eventually convinced Long Feng to launch a coup d'etat against the Earth King. In the end, she double-crossed him and assumed control over the capital. She also succeeded in capturing her uncle and convincing Zuko to rejoin the Fire Nation, clouding his judgment by promising him his father's love. With Ba Sing Se under their control, the Fire Nation was close to victory, with only the tattered Water Tribes and parts of the Earth Kingdom left opposing them. Azula also learned that Ba Sing Se had been planning a major invasion of the Fire Nation home islands on the day of a solar eclipse in late summer, which would briefly leave all Firebenders powerless. With the Western Navy still recovering from the Siege of the North, the invasion might have been successful had the Dai Li not arrested the Council of Five. Still, with knowledge that their homeland would still be vulnerable, the Fire Nation made plans to use this to their advantage.
To make matters worse, Avatar Aang was gravely injured in a failed attempt to defeat Azula, who struck him down with a powerful lightning blast. Although Katara was able to revive him, Aang remained in a coma in the following weeks, and was immediately presumed dead by the entire world. When word of Aang's defeat spread across the globe, the Earth Kingdom and Water Tribes lost hope and the Fire Nation came close to declaring victory in its imperialist war. Aang and his friends traveled into the Fire Nation incognito until the time to strike came again.
Several weeks later, Ozai called a war meeting with his generals. One of them, Shinu, said that while Ba Sing Se had been conquered, a number of Earth Kingdom Rebellions and with the Earth kingdom military still controlling vast swaths of territory mainly in the south kept the Fire Nation from claiming ultimate victory in the war. When Zuko said that the Earth Kingdom could endure anything as long as they had hope, Azula said they should "take their precious hope, and the rest of their land, and burn it all to the ground." Ozai, using this idea, planned to use the power of the returning Sozin's Comet to completely destroy the Earth Kingdom.
Though the Fire Nation controlled great swathes of territory they were not unopposed. A small multinational invasion force led by Chief Hakoda of the Southern Water Tribe and the Avatar assaulted the Fire Nation Capital on the Day of Black Sun, and were nearly successful, but unfortunately their supposed success was actually a carefully planned trap by the Fire Nation. Though they were repelled by the new Fire Nation air force of Airships and most of the resistance leaders were captured, they proved that the Fire Nation could continue to be resisted as long as hope was maintained.
However, the Day of Black Sun was not a total failure for those resisting the Fire Nation. During the Eclipse, King Bumi saw the chance he had been waiting for. He broke out of his prison and, with the Firebenders unable to Firebend, retook his city Omashu single-handedly.
Prince Zuko realized the full extent of the Fire Nation's crimes and joined the Avatar so that he can learn Firebending to fight the Fire Lord. This development only increased the threat the Avatar posed towards the Fire Nation. Coinciding with this, Princess Azula was betrayed by her allies, Mai and Ty Lee after a failed sabotaging of an Escape from the Boiling Rock, badly hurting both her psyche and her leadership ability.
Fire Lord Ozai intended to crown himself Phoenix King prior to the arrival of Sozin's Comet and to have Azula succeed him as Fire Lord. Ozai intended to finish the War by using the comet's immense power to vanquish his enemies, so the Avatar's group, one of the Fire Nation's greatest threats, had to act quickly to prevent this catastrophe.
End of the War Edit
Fall of Leaders Edit
When Sozin's Comet made its return to the world, Ozai launched his massive attack on the Earth Kingdom with his armada of Airships. When he arrived at the Wulong Forest, which he quickly proceeded to incinerate, Avatar Aang confronted him. Despite Aang's pleas to end the war peacefully, Ozai attacked him. At first, Ozai and Aang were evenly matched, but Aang refused to go on the offensive due to his belief that all life was sacred. Ozai gained the upper hand, but accidentally smashed Aang into a rock that hit the scar on his back. This opened his seventh chakra, allowing Aang to enter the Avatar State. Using the Avatar State's power, Aang went on the offensive. Despite his enhanced Firebending, Ozai was quickly forced to retreat. Aang pursued him, and eventually pinned him down. But just as he was about to deliver the finishing blow, Aang left the Avatar State. Instead of killing Ozai, Aang used Energybending to strip him of his Firebending.
Azula, after losing the alliance of Mai and Ty Lee, was badly weakened by a state of mental instability. This caused her to loose all trust in everyone; thinking everyone was against her, she then banished all those loyal to her, and in effect, had no protection or allies. This, combined with her subsequent defeat, effectively rendered her unable to fight in the war any longer.
While Aang and Ozai fought, three members of the Avatar's group, Sokka, Toph and Suki hijacked one of the airships in Ozai's armada. Using an "Airship Slice" tactic, they successfully destroyed the fleet. The Order of the White Lotus, under Iroh's leadership, successfully retook Ba Sing Se, a colossal defeat for the Fire Nation. Zuko and Katara found and defeated Azula so Zuko could take his place as Fire Lord of the Fire Nation.
With the loss of Omashu, Ba Sing Se, and the fall of their leaders, the Fire Nation Armies found themselves unable to continue the war effort.
"A hundred years of fighting has left the world scarred and divided. But with the Avatar’s help, we can get it back on the right path, and begin a new era of love and peace." - Fire Lord Zuko in Sozin's Comet, Part 4: Avatar Aang.
After these victories, Zuko was crowned Fire Lord and officially declared the war over. At his coronation, Fire Lord Zuko promised before a large audience of the world's citizens that he would dedicate his rule to rebuilding the war-torn world, and that he would do this with the help of his friend and partner, Avatar Aang.
After being defeated by Aang, Fire Lord Ozai was arrested and put in prison. It was recently revealed that Azula has been institutionalized in a mental health facility on an isolated island near the capital. It is unknown if she will ever recover.
All raids against the Southern Water Tribe most likely ceased, and the Fire Nation Armies have presumably begun to scale back and return home. It is unknown what is to become of all of the Fire Nation bases and colonies that have been firmly established in the west.
The world has begun the process of rebuilding. The city of Ba Sing Se has begun rebuilding and even has a brand new tea shop. As Fire Lord Zuko stated, the world has a lot of rebuilding to do, but finally the world is at peace.
List of Known Major Engagements Edit
- Air Nomad Genocide
- Battle of Han Tui
- Battle of Taku
- Hu Xin Provinces Campaign
- Battle of Garsai
- Southern Water Tribe Raids
- 600-Day Siege of Ba Sing Se
- Rescue in Pohuai Stronghold
- Battle for the Northern Air Temple
- Siege of the North
- Capture of Omashu
- Battle of the Drill
- Coup of Ba Sing Se
- Invasion of the Fire Nation
- Escape from the Boiling Rock
- Liberation of Omashu
- Liberation of Ba Sing Se
- Comet Enhanced Agni Kai
- Battle at Wulong Forest