Hicks (Friends with Boys) sets this trilogy opener in an imaginary city whose architecture and dress have a Tibetan air. The city has been conquered by successive nations who grind its native inhabitants underfoot; it’s now ruled by the Dao. Kaidu, a Dao boy, arrives for military training and befriends a street girl named Rat. Despite her resentment (“I don’t want to know the name of any Dao,” she snarls when he introduces himself), she agrees to teach Kaidu how to traverse the city’s rooftops in exchange for food. Their secret forays expose Kaidu to the city’s darker truths, while Rat struggles with a sense that their friendship betrays the memory of her parents, who were killed by the Dao. When the two learn of an assassination plot, loyalties shift and the pace vaults from brisk to blazing. Hicks’s sequential artwork is polished, and though males hold nearly all the political power, the female characters are mighty warriors the men respect (and sometimes fear). An emphasis on the way geography can determine political fate gives Hicks’s saga significant depth. Ages 9–up. Agent: Bernadette Baker-Baughman, Victoria Sanders & Associates. (Apr.)
Reviewed on: 01/11/2016 Release date: 04/05/2016 Genre: Children's
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