THE DIVIDED EARTH, the third and final graphic novel in The Nameless City trilogy by Faith Erin Hicks, is more mature, deeply detailed, and ultimately satisfying for readers who have been following Rat and Kaidu’s friendship and adventures. The Divided Earth is more graphic in its violence and more complicated in its intrigue and relationships.
Continuing from the cliffhanger that concluded The Stone Heart, readers discover that the conquering Erzi, who killed his father to become the General of All Blades in The Nameless City, has the formula for a dangerous and ancient weapon, napatha, but he is already feeling insecure and paranoid towards those around him. Mura, the brains and brawn behind Erzi’s power, is given the spotlight several times, allowing for more character development and insight to her psyche. She also gives Rat a heck of a beating in the story’s major battle.
The introduction of Kata, Kaidu’s mother, provides the catalyst for a new beginning in The Nameless City. Kata dominates this narrative anytime she is present. A leader’s leader, she is always calm, in control, fierce and firm, even while being compassionate. Whether she is rounding up an army or showing affection for her husband, she commands each panel in which she appears. For the conflicts in the plot, as both a member of the ruling tribe and an outsider, Kata is able to kickstart the transition from a divided city of class and caste to a home for all who come to its borders “with an open heart.”
Rat (whose true name is revealed within the text!) and Kaidu’s friendship continues to stand in for overcoming differences and finding strength in others. And while the wider circle of friends doesn’t get much development, there are instances that help tie-in peripheral characters, particularly with humor. In addition, the themes of home, belonging, friendship, and the journey of overcoming trauma all factor in to the story’s end. Most readers will find the justice doled out satisfying on a more human level than they might expect.
Hicks’ attention to detail in her illustrations continues to amaze. With several major battle and fight scenes, she manages to portray motion and pain and power without gratuitous gore and violence. The settings in this third book move quickly from rooftops to forests to tunnels to underwater caverns. Hicks switches between light and dark, rough sketches and detailed facial expressions with ease.
This third graphic novel in The Nameless City series, THE DIVIDED EARTH is recommended for ages 9-14. While there is fighting violence throughout, it is not gory and it is attached to a build-up of both character and plot. The Divided Earth is a very fine conclusion to this trilogy. Highly Recommended.