By Dustin Cabeal
The Divided Earth is a strong finish to Faith Erin Hicks’ The Nameless City trilogy. A series that has worn its influences on its sleeve while blazing its own path. I’m sure some have looked at the story and thought, “This should be an animated series!” Maybe they’re right, but this trilogy will always feel more at home in the pages of a comic.
The story continues where the second volume left off. That is probably the only weakness for the second and third volumes; they don’t quite work on their own as they tie into each other too much. It’s common in trilogies, and everyone can name a dozen examples on their own, so I won’t bore you with my own. It’s the only real weakness of the story, but it’s by no means a deal breaker nor does it ruin the storytelling.
By now if you’ve read the first two volumes, you know what’s going on this third volume. The General of All Blades has been killed by his son, who has taken his position and with that the secrets of the first people of the city. The secrets of explosives. He wants this power for himself, but his trusty right-hand general, the woman that’s walked mostly the same path in life as Rat, has decided she has other plans. Rat and Kai are plotting to get the book of secrets back while Kai’s father and Joah are out trying to rally the Yisun troops to their cause but run into an interesting obstacle. There is a lot of action, danger, and misdirection in this last volume, all of it building towards a rewarding conclusion.
I read this volume on eggshells. I was very worried that there would be multiple deaths, but thankfully Faith Erin Hicks chose a very different route for the story. It didn’t stop my anxiety, and I doubt it’ll stop other readers, which is the mark of a good storyteller. Another mark of how masterful Hicks has become at storytelling is the relationship between Rat and Kai. It is so refreshing that it’s a friendship and not a budding romance waiting to happen. It would be damaging to the story and their characters if that were the case. Perhaps if there were some future story with them, it would fit and make sense, but not once was that the case in this volume. They care deeply for each other, but at the same time, it felt like they cared about the people of the city the same amount. Both of them are willing to sacrifice themselves for the greater good of the city and its people, but they do so in very different ways. It’s what makes both of them wonderful characters.
For the most part, the story proceeds who’d you’d expect. There are a few twists and turns, but again it’s been building towards this ending for a while now. It would be disappointing if it didn’t end who you expected at this point. For some, that might be kind of boring, but I think it’s a mark of good storytelling when the audience can understand your intentions with the story.
The art remains consistent. I think that’s a good thing when you’re making a trilogy because then there’s uniformity for people that will read it after the final chapters release. Lucky/latecomers that will be able to sit down with all three volumes and have a unique experience in reading it as a whole. Even still, you can see some improvements and refinement to Hicks artwork on this final volume. The action is fluid and easy to follow. The characters take damage during fights that stay the rest of the story. The art is enjoyable and entertaining but also filled with emotion.
The Nameless City is a great series for young readers. It doesn’t have a bullshit Disney ending which is rewarding. The characters are memorable, well-developed and there’s someone for everyone to relate to, even if it’s not the main characters. For adults, it’s probably not going to be the deepest of reads, but still one that’s entertaining and rewarding in its way. For me, it’s been fun, and I was happy to review the entire series.
The Nameless City: The Divided Earth
Faith Erin Hicks
First Second Books