The Nameless City by Faith Erin Hicks, 232 pp, RL 4
My Other Favorite Graphic Novel of 2016
Faith Erin Hicks is the author and co-author of two of my favorite YA graphic novels, Friends with Boys and Nothing Can Possibly Go Wrong and now the superb first book in a trilogy, The Nameless City. The Nameless City has the feel of the animated series The Legend of Korra, the spinoff of Avatar: The Last Airbender, both of which I love, and both of which are and will soon be graphic novel series.
The world of The Nameless City is an ancient one with a vaguely Asian/Egyptian feel to it and her geography is brilliant. The Nameless City sits at the mouth of a great mountain pass where a massive arch has been carved out of the stone, allowing the the River of Lives to reach the sea. On one side of the pass are the Liao and Yisun nations, on the other, the Diao. Because of its location, the Nameless City is forever being invaded by one nation after another, who then changws the name. Eventually it comes to be called the Nameless City by everyone - except the natives, who are referred to as the Named.
Kaidu is from the Dao nation, one of many Dao children sent to the Nameless City to train to be part of military behind the safety of the palace walls. Once there, Kai meets his father, General Andren, for the first time. Andren takes Kai on a walk through the Nameless City, outside the safety of the palace walls, and Kai is clearly shaken by the poverty and homelessness he sees. But, it's also where he first sees Rat, a Named girl who has the remarkable skill of being able to fly across the tops of the tiled roofs of the city and perform a sort of ancient parkour.
Enemies at first, Kai and Rat forge a wary friendship that I think will lead to great changes for all over the course of the trilogy. There are themes of conquest and colonialism that make Rat and Kai's friendship all the more fascinating. The Nameless City, while a long and rich graphic novel, also leaves you feeling like you are just getting to know this ancient place. I can't wait for the second book in the series, The Stone Heart, which, in an interview with the L. A. Times, Hicks promises will be bonkers!
Also by Faith Erin Hicks!
Source: Review Copy