Recommended for ages 10+
It’s been called Yanjing. Monkh. Daidu. DanDao. Every invader gives The City a new name. The natives – The Named – laugh and say that only outsiders name the City. They take no part in the constant wars, and the Dao, current rulers, are looked upon as outsiders. Kaidu, son of a general he’s never met, has been raised in the countryside by his mother, now a tribal leader. He heads to the City to train as a Dao soldier and meet his father, but he’s bullied by the other Dao boys, who see him as a loser and a bumpkin. His father is a general in the General of All Blades’ army, and wants to negotiate a peace between the Named and the Dao; create a government for all, but he’s laughed at my the General’s son and his trainees.
Venturing into the City on his own, Kaidu meets a street urchin who calls herself Rat. She’s one of the named and hates the Dao, blaming them for the death of her parents. Kaidu is fascinated by her, and slowly, the two become friends. Rat takes a chance and visits Kaidu at the palace, where she overhears a plot that will endanger lives and throw the City into chaos. Can she and Kaidu work together to save the day?
Faith Erin Hicks has created a powerful tale of division, friendship, and acceptance with The Nameless City. We get strong characters in this new series opener, with established backgrounds and bold personalities. We get a solid backstory that establishes a culture of anger and division; a lonely tween trying to find his place in a world he can’t seem to fit into, and another tween, alone within her world. Hicks brings these two lonely characters together and allows them to forge a powerful bond upon which a new future will rest, and she does it with action, pathos, intrigue, and humor. I love Faith Erin Hicks’ art and her storytelling, and Nameless City is another brilliant graphic novel. The Nameless City has already received a starred Kirkus review, and I expect it will receive more, plus some big nominations.
Who’s going to read this? Give this to your Avatar/Legend of Korra and Amulet fans, for starters. There’s a strong Asian influence to the novel that will appeal to fans of these adventure series, as well as older readers who are fans of manga series like Usagi Yojimbo and Lone Wolf & Cub.
Check out Faith Erin Hicks’ author webpage for info, including interviews, webcomics, and art.