This fic is still just starting out, but it is shaping up to be a fascinating look into the politics behind Zuko's banishment. It sits at an interesting crossroads between "AU" and "headcanon," and provides insights into Fire Nation culture and government through the eyes of both royalty/nobility and commoners.
Something that I really like about this story is the careful balance between serious politicking and Zuko being silly, dorky, and thirteen. The author's characterization of him is simply brilliant. He clearly has a good heart, but is trying too hard to live up to what he thinks
he should be as a prince (exemplified perfectly in the form of a truly terrifying Tiny Azula). He acts pompous sometimes, but readily defends a peasant village from its tyrannical liege without thought to the consequences his actions will have back at the royal court. He doesn't always listen to the counsels of his tutor, but clearly respects both him and the other elders he comes across. It's an interesting look at pre-Break The Cutie
, pre-Heel Face Turn
Zuko, someone we saw in canon for about five minutes: he's neither a "good guy" (in the sense of ending the war) nor an antagonist, but is rather an impulsive but well-intentioned kid who makes bad decisions while trying to do good things. Furthermore, he has no idea what he's getting himself into, heartbreakingly ironic since we as viewers know exactly what's going to happen to him.
The action scenes (and they are frequent) are well-written and easy to follow. The descriptions are so vivid that I feel like I could eat them with a spoon. The O Cs
are interesting and well-developed in their own right. The use of legitimate history and folklore add realism and validity to the story, and the author includes informative notes on character names and other things of the sort. It's well-researched, but doesn't talk down to the readers. It's a political drama, but doesn't lay the drama on so
thick that it's boring and unreadable (and the drama is interspersed with funny scenes like Zuko vainly checking in the mirror for facial hair).
Go read it! It's well worth it.