The Stone Heart: The Nameless City, Book 2 by Faith Erin Hicks, color by Jordie Bellaire, 256pp, RL 4
With The Stone Heart, the second book in Faith Erin Hicks' graphic novel trilogy The Nameless City gives readers a deeper look into the world she created while propelling this suspenseful story of peoples on the verge of war forward. In the first book, young Kaidu, son of a Dao general, arrives in the Nameless City to train to be a soldier. There, he becomes friends with an orphan girl living at the Stone Heart monastery. Together, Kai and Rat stop an assassination attempt against Erzi, the son of the General of the Blades, the leader of the three tribes that make up (most) of the inhabitants of the Nameless City.
Second books (or movies) in trilogies often feel like bridges between the first and final parts of the story, but The Stone Heart, while adding to the to backstory of the city and characters, feels almost like a stand alone. The focus of this book shifts to Erzi and his fury over his father's plan to broker peace, denying him his birthright as General of the Blades. He makes a decision that sets a disastrous chain of events in action, sending Kai and Rat on the run. The third and final book in this trilogy promises an explosive ending to a world that is hard to forget.
In the Author's Note for The Stone Heart, Hicks shares more details about the creation of this trilogy, including the agony of drawing a "comic with thousands of tiled Chinese rooftops." Hicks notes that, while the Nameless City is fictional, it has roots in 13th century China, specifically the Yuan Dynasty and the Silk Road. And, in a note that made me smile, Hicks thanked the Halifax Public Library, where she did much of her research, noting that libraries are, "as always, a cartoonist's best friend."
Source: Review Copy