The Nameless City
The Nameless City Trilogy, Book #1
By Faith Erin Hicks
Brought to you by OBS Reviewer Scott
The first of what seems to be an enchanting trilogy, The Nameless City, is an engrossing, well written and drawn piece that delivers high adventure, deep emotional feeling and class in a convenient package. The graphic novel is written from the perspective of Kai, the lead protagonist and son of the ruler of the nameless city. Kai’s adventures are involving in this short piece of a much larger tapestry and his newness to the city helps draw the reader in. at a slow, controlled pace. At no point does the reader feel rushed unless it is what Faith Erin Hicks wants you to feel rushed. It’s a truly remarkable work just for that level of reader introduction to a vast new world.
The written word just flows off of the page and I caught myself “double-backing” to absorb the artwork; the story is that engrossing. The main protagonist Kai, and the surrounding cast of characters is given just enough detail to make them believable in a heart-felt way, and leaves plenty to explore in the next two volumes. Dialogue is natural and sincere. The panels conform to a six panel grid, without much deviation, which makes it easier to absorb the complexities of the plots and adventure, the intrigue and twists. The word choice is just enough to start you down a path that is surely going to have a high waterline to beat, with this opening salvo.
Believable characters are what really make this stand out amongst the neo-oriental influence of the work. Although drawn in a manga like fashion, the feel of the characters and their situations is more western in execution. This is probably one of the novels strongest points. It plays on a neo-oriental theme but ensconces it in western ideology that any North American or European can relate to. Grabbing character concepts and their trappings while introducing a new world is a feat enough but Hicks pulls it off with grace and style. You know where all the characters stand, and what their positions are on pretty much everything. This isn’t to say that they aren’t ripe for expansion – they most certainly are – but rather that you feel an almost instant connection to the players in the game.
The artwork alone is just brilliant. The bold inks on graceful lines mark Faith Erin Hicks as a true art lovers artist. Coloring by Jordie Bellaire enhances the art to a new and muted level, that reflecting The Nameless City’s streets and denizens in an all too real fashion. Backgrounds are lush and elegant, and main characters, age-dependent, are portrayed in a traditional manga context. The action sequences, pushed by the artwork, propel the reader literally across rooftops and through labyrinth like alleyways. At no point does the reader not know what the characters are feeling either. Emotions range from despondence to elation, and one or more expressions are always present in any character driven panel.
For fans of action-adventure, political intrigue, and graphic novels like The Last Man series, The Nameless City is the right fit for you. Even if you’ve never delved into the art form before, The Nameless City is a great introduction to the world of neo-oriental stylistics. There is enough in the graphic novel to appease most tastes and being the first in a trilogy, why not take the plunge? You’ll find it quite the enchanting introduction to the world of graphic novels and the “western manga” genre.