The Nameless City is a trilogy that (if you are like me) should probably be read back-to-back. I was lucky and able to read all three with little break between one and two (and two and three the same day). Yet, a few things I had to backtrack and try to remember, “Okay who are you again?” or “What did you do?” However, the reader aged 10 to 14 should have no difficultly remembering everything. And thankfully, all three are out so regardless they can be read at once.
The Stone Heart is book two of the series. We continue with Rat and Kai’s adventures. A few new characters are introduced, one important plot point occurs, and adventures jump about on the page. There is a piece of information that was “tossed in” to show diversity, but in the long run was not needed. Or could have been handled differently, especially since Faith Erin Hicks does not expand on it. The Stone Heart is obviously the sequel story or the middle story of The Nameless City series, but it is not just a bridge or written to be filler to get you to the end. It continues the story moving it along and adds to the plot. Hicks ends this graphic novel on a note that made me hope the final book rounds up this interesting series in a right solution, not just a “quickie” to just get it over with.
However, book three The Divided Earth does have a few rushed moments, a few coincidences that were unnecessary or (again) have been handled differently, but Hicks is consistent with her “odd pieces” that should not bother a reader the books are aimed for. It is probably only this adult who went “huh” over them. She is tying the story together, giving you background on the characters (Rat’s family, Kai’s parent’s marriage, the monks, their leader, more about the original City Builders). And I am fairly certain that there is a name typo: Book Two has the character’s name starting with an I and in Book three with an E. I am not sure if this is just my copies, or what happened. Yet, this does not take away from the story, as this was a character that mostly could have been written out. He was there only to show that Rat is not alone and has a few friends in the city. We find the ending/the solution to the battles/situations fitting the theme of the main characters (showing mercy and diplomacy). Rat and Kai learn that the city belongs to everyone, war only begets more war, brains can be stronger than brawn, kindness is a virtue and a belief (bet it an ideal and/or yourself) is important.
In book two, the author has an afterwards where she mentions she was inspired by Thirteenth Century China history. While it is not a true history, elements are there. This is seen by things like the weapon of the City Builders, the style of dress, and the fact there are visitors as if it as a trading route such as the Silk Road. Overall this is a familiar story. As the adult, you have read the themes before, but Hicks and her heavily illustration-based story has good messages about friendship, being different and choices. The tone of the story is modern (language and thoughts). Therefore, this adventure graphic novel would work well for the reader who is a fan of graphic novels, might be a strong, but has issues reading-reader, or friendship stories.