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The One Hundred Nights of Hero by Isabel…
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The One Hundred Nights of Hero

by Isabel Greenberg

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741.5942 G7986o 2016
  ebr_mills | Mar 23, 2017 |
In The One Hundred Nights of Hero, Isabel Greenberg returns to the fantastical universe she created in her first graphic novel, The Encyclopedia of Early Earth. However, The One Hundred Nights of Hero involves all new characters and stands completely alone. The two graphic novels can be read in any order.

The One Hundred Nights of Hero opens with a bet between two men. One complains that he can never find a woman who meets his criteria, the most important of which is that she will be chaste and loyal. His friend disagrees. He knows exactly such a woman – his wife Cherry. And so the bet is formed. The husband will leave for one hundred nights, giving his friend the opportunity to try and seduce Cherry. And if seduction fails, he may very well turn to more brutal methods.

Unbeknownst to the two men, our heroine Cherry is in love with her maid, Hero. And the two women hatch a scheme to save themselves, one that’s straight out of The Arabian Nights: they will tell Cherry’s unwanted suitor a series of stories to keep him at bay. And thus is the frame for our collection born.

Like Encyclopedia of Early Earth, this graphic novel has a focus on the power of storytelling. But unlike its predecessor, The One Hundred Nights of Hero puts women and the love between women at the front and center.

“We shall tell all the stories that are never told. Stories about bad husbands and murderous wives and mad gods and mothers and heroes and darkness and friends and sisters and lovers… Yes! And above all… Stories about brave women who don’t take shit from anyone.”

Hero and Cherry are the heroines of our frame story, but their romantic love isn’t the only sort of love portrayed in The One Hundred Nights of Hero. Over and over again, the idea of sisterly love appears in the narrative. Whether it’s a case of sisterly love being the real true love as in the first story or when it’s sisters gone wrong, as in the retelling of “Twa Sisters.” As The One Hundred Nights of Hero says, “Sisters are important.”

Some of the stories Hero tells are tales original to this graphic novel, such as the very first story, in which five sisters learn the forbidden art of reading. Other stories are more familiar. “Twa Sisters” is retold in a relatively straight forward manner that doesn’t veer too far from the original. On the other hand, there was a much more original take on “Twelve Dancing Princesses.”

“So they were Gods, but also they were a family, because this story is all about that. About humans and human-ness. Fathers and daughters, brothers and sisters. Love and betrayal and loyalty and madness. Lovers and heroes and the passing of time and all those marvelous baffling things… those things that make us human.”

I find it hard to communicate all my feelings for this book. As Hero and Cherry’s time drew to a close, I feared for them more and more. The ending made me unexpectedly emotional (in a good way). This book is beautiful in so many ways. From the themes and prose to the art itself. I adored how Greenberg used strong blacks and whites with a limited color palette – it really fit the tone of the stories she was telling.

There’s darkness to this graphic novel, but ultimately it’s about sassy women smashing the patriarchy. Is it any surprise that I loved this book more than I ever expected? It is perfectly deserving of my first five star rating for 2017.

Originally posted on The Illustrated Page. ( )
1 vote pwaites | Mar 1, 2017 |
Quite possibly the most beautiful graphic novel I've ever read. ALL THE STARS AND MOONS.

(Full disclosure: I received a free copy of this book for review from the publisher. Trigger warning for threats of rape.)

They luxuriated sinfully in that most beautiful of all things: The written word.

All those stories you have told, all those wonderful stories...
They are nothing to OUR STORY. People will tell it in years to come...
And they will say, that was a story about Love.
And about two brave girls who wouldn't take shit from anyone.

Lesson: Men are false. And they can get away with it.
Also, don't murder your sister, even by accident. Sisters are important.

Once upon a time, thousands of years ago, in a land called Early Earth, there lived two star-crossed lovers: Cherry, a fair and lovely young woman from the Empire of Migdal Bavel, and her maid, Hero.

Despite her vaguely masculine name, Hero was a young woman as well - and a servant and runaway, at that - both conditions which conspired against their love. Cherry's father insisted she marry a man who could provide for her; and so, after dodging his demands for one blissful summer (spent in the arms of Hero, of course), Cherry finally acquiesced. Luckily, Hero was able to accompany Cherry to the castle of her new husband, Jerome, where she stayed on as Cherry's maid - and her secret lover. Like many of the men in Migdal Bavel, Jerome was a rather dim-witted and arrogant misogynist, you see, so Hero and Cherry were able to outwit him with minimal effort.

And then one day Jerome made a foolish bet with his friend Manfred, a man a little less stupid but a whole lot crueler than himself.



If Manfred could seduce his 'obedient and faithful' (*snort!*) wife Cherry, then Manfred would win Jerome's castle. If not, Manfred's castle would become Jerome's. Jerome would feign a business trip, giving Manfred a full one hundred days to execute his fiendish plot.

Being an amateur eavesdropper, Hero overheard the men's conversation and tipped her lover off. Knowing that Manfred would take Cherry's maidenhood by force if necessary (read: rape), the women hatched their own plan to keep Manfred at bay: with stories. For Hero is a gifted and cunning storyteller who hails from a long line of gifted and cunning female storytellers.





So for one hundred nights, Hero enthralls Manfred - and their guards, and indeed all of Migdal Bavel - with tales of madness, lust, deception, bravery, fealty, and ingenuity. Stories about sisters, fathers and daughters, kings and their subjects, men and women and moons and lovers. Stories of how the world came to be, and how it was corrupted: by a daughter named Kiddo and her father, the god Bird Man. But little does Hero know that her and Cherry's story will prove the most epic and revolutionary of them all.

The One Hundred Nights of Hero is simply breathtaking. Honestly, it just might be the most beautiful and moving graphic novel I've ever read. I love fairy tell retellings, and we're treated to several rather lovely ones, thanks to Hero. But The One Hundred Nights of Hero is so much more than this: there are stories within stories within stories, and by the book's end, they all converge in a way that feels both masterful and magical. Much like Hero, Isabel Greenberg has the gift of gab, as Manfred would say. She also has a sly and sometimes dark sense of humor, which adds a little feminist levity to a story that can be grim and depressing at times.



The artwork is lovely, with bold graphics (that kind of brought to mind Kill Bill, if I'm being honest) and punches of color to emphasize a point.

It feels almost primitive, like the artwork of early h. sapiens - a few steps up from cave art, maybe. Rough and angular but also beautiful, in its own way. It fits well with the "Early Earth" setting.





Hero and Cherry's love forms the heart of the story. In a society that's deeply homophobic and rooted in misogyny (some of the funniest/saddest moments involve women being persecuted and ultimately executed for reading, writing, witchcraft, and general "sassiness"), there's nothing worse than a smart and opinionated woman - except two smart and opinionated women who love each other, and have no need of men.



Hero and Cherry's fate was sealed from the start; in a world where women just can't win, Jerome and Manfred's wager was a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don't Catch-22 situation. (Think about ye ole swimming test for witches. Strip and bind a woman and toss her in the water. If she floats, she's a witch and must be executed. If she drowns, she's declared innocent. Um, thanks?)

Yet their love - and the great love of The Sisterhood of Secret Storytellers, or The Sisterhood of Women Who Won't Take Shit from Anyone, or whatever you want to call it - endures. No, it does more than that: it transcends. It shines immortal, just like the three moons and the five dancing stones of Hero's fairy tales.

But the story's fist - the one that ultimately smashes the patriarchy of Migdal Bavel - lies in the power of storytelling. The One Hundred Nights of Hero is nothing if not a love letter: to the tellers of stories, no matter what form they take (authors, poets, songwriters, painters, playwrights, sculptors, you name it!), and the adoring audiences who carry their tales with them, wherever they go, thus becoming storytellers in their own right. A well-crafted story has the power to inspire compassion and empathy; to topple the existing social order, challenge the victor's version of history, and make the world a better place. Seeing yourself in a story is to see yourself, your very existence, validated; to see a different way of walking around in the world. The girls and women of Migdal Bavel? Of Little Rock, Arkansas and Chingola, Zambia and Jēkabpils, Latvia? They need that. We all do.



Some of my most cherished stories remind me of the one line in the one story I cherish above all others: the ghost's entreaty to Mary, upon her escape from the world of the dead, to “Tell them stories.” Storytelling is a nothing short of a superpower - and it's one that Hero wields with grace and skill.

Ditto: Isabel Greenberg. The One Hundred Nights of Hero is a story that we need now more than ever; a story that I'll return to time and again in the next few years, and probably beyond. A story for the ages, as they say.

http://www.easyvegan.info/2017/01/20/the-one-hundred-nights-of-hero-by-isabel-gr... ( )
1 vote smiteme | Dec 29, 2016 |
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 0316259179, Hardcover)

A Publishers Weekly Best Book of 2014

In the tradition of The Arabian Nights, a beautifully illustrated tapestry of folk tales and myths about the secret legacy of female storytellers in an imagined medieval world.


In the Empire of Migdal Bavel, Cherry is married to Jerome, a wicked man who makes a diabolical wager with his friend Manfred: if Manfred can seduce Cherry in one hundred nights, he can have his castle--and Cherry.

But what Jerome doesn't know is that Cherry is in love with her maid Hero. The two women hatch a plan: Hero, a member of the League of Secret Story Tellers, will distract Manfred by regaling him with a mesmerizing tale each night for 100 nights, keeping him at bay. Those tales are beautifully depicted here, touching on themes of love and betrayal and loyalty and madness.

As intricate and richly imagined as the works of Chris Ware, and leavened with a dry wit that rivals Kate Beaton's in Hark! A Vagrant, Isabel Greenberg's One Hundred Nights of Hero will capture readers' hearts and minds, taking them through a magical medieval world.

(retrieved from Amazon Mon, 05 Dec 2016 00:33:05 -0500)

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