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08 September 2010 @ 11:18 pm
Fic and Art: Son of Heaven  

LJ Name: ali_wildgoose 
Title of Fic: 
Son of Heaven
Word count:
Gen, drama
Warnings and pairings:
Iroh's son is dead, and his appeal to the spirits has failed.  His grief is interrupted when he's called away from Ba Sing Se to deal with an insubordinate unit: the Rough Rhinos, who've been making sport of Earth Kingdom peasants.  But what he finds in the mountain forests takes his life on an abrupt turn -- an orphaned boy named Jet, the only survivor of his village.
Many thanks to Hoshizora for looking this over for me, to Achtung Baby for her time and talent, and to Avocado Love for giving me a reason to finally write it!




: Son of Heaven
LJ Name: achtung_baby 
Rating: G

d-rex-8: approval/excellent - your offeringseserakh on September 9th, 2010 07:01 am (UTC)
Twin waterfalls. Seriously. This story is so succinct, so touching. It says everything about who Iroh was and who he becomes in only 10,000 words. I sort of want you to write a whole series out of this. Beautiful.

The art is an excellent snapshot of a moment. I love how you included Jet chewing on his fingernail, and his not-quite-long-enough hair frizzing out of the tie.
go make some new disaster: atla - bring the walls downali_wildgoose on September 9th, 2010 03:15 pm (UTC)
I'm so very glad to hear that it resonated with you -- this fic was a difficult one to right, and there were many panic attacks about it being dull or slow-paced, so your assurances are really appreciated.

I hope to come back to this universe at least a few times, to write more stories about when the boys are little older -- we'll see! :)

Again, thank you for commenting!
(no subject) - seserakh on September 9th, 2010 04:50 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - achtung_baby on September 9th, 2010 11:31 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Paul Starr: Avatar: Sokka/Good Timespts on September 9th, 2010 12:14 pm (UTC)
We've already talked at length about this fic, so you know how I feel about it, but I might as well leave a comment—you know, for posterity. <3

Pieces like this are why I read fanfic at all. In exploring the might-have-beens shortly after Iroh's bereavement, we get to see a beloved character when he was a different man; younger, more vulnerable, but still the Iroh we love. Your depiction of the collision of his emotions with the political realities he must navigate is nuanced and thoughtful, and the part that Jet comes to play in the beginning of his recovery is both affecting and plausible.

(Poor Lieutenant Jee. I kind of want to read/write a post-series fic where it's basically him kicking back on his estate, drinking wine and doing calligraphy and for once in his life not putting up with high-maintenance Fire Nation royalty.)

And, I mean... that art. So evocative. (Poor beat-up Jet!)
go make some new disaster: atla - white lotus be pimpinali_wildgoose on September 9th, 2010 03:16 pm (UTC)
Your commenting is very much appreciated, sir -- it's nice to be able to come back and revisit the text version of your THOUGHTS, certainly. Thank you for taking the time to articulate them for my benefit <3 <3 <3

(oh man, Jee, so long-suffering...perhaps always one of my favorites <3 )
(no subject) - achtung_baby on September 9th, 2010 11:33 pm (UTC) (Expand)
karasuhimechan: happycubakarasuhimechan on September 9th, 2010 03:25 pm (UTC)
This story is amazing!! Iroh's thoughts throught the whole piece, his choice to keep Jet and the beginning...amazing. It left me wanting more;.; Really, really beautiful piece, and the art at the end is gorgeous!! Exactly what I was visualizing in my head. Beautiful.
go make some new disaster: atla - fake cousins are tinyali_wildgoose on September 9th, 2010 04:04 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm very glad to hear you enjoyed it! <3
(no subject) - achtung_baby on September 9th, 2010 11:34 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(Deleted comment)
go make some new disaster: atla - fake cousins are tinyali_wildgoose on September 9th, 2010 04:05 pm (UTC)
Yes, things will certainly turn out a bit differently for Jet -- although I'm sure he'll find ways to start shit in a less psychopathic manner, wherever he is. ;)

Thank you so much for taking the time to comment! I'm so glad to hear you enjoyed it! <3
(no subject) - achtung_baby on September 9th, 2010 11:35 pm (UTC) (Expand)
amiraelizabethamiraelizabeth on September 9th, 2010 04:50 pm (UTC)
Oh Ali...your fic is just beautiful! As soon as I finished it I wanted to scroll back up and read it again.

And the artwork is just lovely.

Great work, you guys!
go make some new disaster: atla - heartbeatali_wildgoose on September 9th, 2010 08:59 pm (UTC)
That's very sweet of you to say, bb! Thank you! <3
(no subject) - achtung_baby on September 9th, 2010 11:38 pm (UTC) (Expand)
dungeonwriterdungeonwriter on September 9th, 2010 05:37 pm (UTC)
Shana tova
Another extraordinary story from you, and I have only praise for it. Your imagery is incredible, your dialogue witty and your characteraztion is sublime. This reminded me a bit of Grave of the Fireflies in that you don’t pound away at the grief and sorrow around, but allow the beautiful, rich world to just wash over your readers, taking us on a journey “ told not as melodrama, but simply, directly, in the neorealist tradition. “ I only wish you would continue this amazing AU, because it’s so wonderful.
Another masterpiece from a master writer.
go make some new disaster: tutu - EMBARRASSEDali_wildgoose on September 9th, 2010 09:00 pm (UTC)
Re: Shana tova
I'm very flattered that you think so! Just trying to get the story down on the page as gracefully as I can ^_^;;
a pioneer in the field of astrofeelingsry: turning my head outmeredyd on September 9th, 2010 06:02 pm (UTC)

Apparently I wanted this fic to exist for a really long time and didn't realize it? Well, I mean, everybody is always BUT WHAT HAPPENED TO IROH IN THE SPIRIT WORLD?? And this is certainly as satisfying as any answer we could have gotten.

This is going to sound weird, but it's...hard to write grief, you know? But I think you did a really admirable job of that, of articulating Iroh's feelings just enough that they had a huge impact, without getting overwrought.

For a 10,000+ word fic this felt A LOT SHORTER, for all that was packed into it. Political intrigue! Heartbreak! Lt. Jee being himself! Crazy FN shenanigans!

But my favorite thing about it is how perfectly-observed, among all of that, the little character moments are.

Anyway, A+ job, lady!


I love your clean lines and coloring, and the peaceful expression on Iroh! And tiny Jet and Zuko look SO ADORABLE, their little faces!! Everything is so warm and bright and inviting. You did a great job getting them all down.
Scrambles the Death Dealer: Mama's boy.achtung_baby on September 9th, 2010 11:41 pm (UTC)
Oh my, thank you so much! I had to try for something happy, because the fic is just so beautifully heartbreaking... but I'm a sucker for fluff in the end. Plus: tiny adorable children making frieeennnddds, awwww. I'm so glad you liked it! ♥♥♥
(Deleted comment)
Scrambles the Death Dealer: i r arteest.achtung_baby on September 9th, 2010 11:43 pm (UTC)
Hee, thank you! ♥ Not gonna lie, the Pai Sho table took a comparatively ridiculous amount of time, so I'm really flattered that you think it came out well XD Your comment is so sweet, I really appreciate it!
rowzenrowzen on September 9th, 2010 10:22 pm (UTC)

Pai Sho is truly the game of Life....

~bows deeply~
fulselden: In Chesse-boards and Tablesfulselden on September 10th, 2010 10:00 am (UTC)
This is lovely.

And as others have said, it really works as a portrayal of grief: very low key and grounded in the everyday, because, well, Iroh, but also clear sighted and suggestive about what he's going through.

Because of course picking up a new kid, whatever the degree of commitment initially envisaged, mere weeks after the death of your only beloved son ... is not entirely healthy. Very Iroh, and very royal, and one can genuinely believe that it will end up working out for both of them, but, man, it's sufficiently dysfunctional that the story doesn't need a lot of overt catastrophising, you know?

And of course the same goes for Jet, who we know from canon is more than capable of hiding damage. Also, tiny!Zuko here is ridiculously adorable. Plus, Fire Nation politicking! Always good times.

And the picture is great and just right for the story - ahahaha I am not surprised the Pai Sho table took ages, but it works!
fulselden: In Chesse-boards and Tablesfulselden on September 10th, 2010 01:13 pm (UTC)
Though actually, heh, thinking of overt catastrophising: I am amused by the tendency Iroh apparently shares with the Zuko's Story version of his nephew to respond to trauma by going off into a forest and setting everything on fire (or, in Iroh's case, wanting to - I also appreciate that he restrains himself before the spirit intervenes). Oh Fire Nation!
Lady: Addams and Evepersephone_blue on September 11th, 2010 02:54 am (UTC)
This is fantastic. I'm speechless.
One Uncharming Gearheademsariel on September 11th, 2010 01:41 pm (UTC)
Choosing time and place
We've spoken about this in person, but it's worth repeating ... I think that the choice of timing on this fic is really great. The most interesting AUs are ones where there'd was some moment where history could have turned, and the fic examines the ways and the results of that potential change in human terms. You've picked one of those moments, added richly to the moment with a plausible explanation of Iroh's time in the spirit world, and then examined some interesting results using characters that we know.

It begs the reader to imagine what Jet will be like down the road. It leads out into how the spirit world works, the history of the Rough Rhinos, the first siege of Ba Sing Se, what "good people" in the Fire Nation military are doing, how Iro h got to be who we love in the series, and on and on. For me, the best fic uses characters that i know and like (or hate) and uses that familiarity to dive deeply into character and motivation. You take and make such great moments in this fic that you do that well.

alexb49alexb49 on September 11th, 2010 08:06 pm (UTC)
Heartbreakingly beautiful but ends with such hope. Both complex and simple.

The artwork carries over the sweetness perfectly.
Aphrael: Avatar - Group Hugsilverthunder on September 21st, 2010 05:27 pm (UTC)
Oh, that was fantastic! I love how you've made this work, changing things for Iroh and Jet and even Zuko. It makes me wonder how this could continue into the canon storyline and how everything would change and fit together... I loved how you led into this, and how your characterizations just work. Perfectly, even. It's lovely.

I also adored the artwork. It's smooth and clean, and even though I don't know how I would've pictured a young Jet, that just seems right (Fire Nation clothing and all). Beautiful!