Thursday 12 December 2019

Shades Of Magic: The Steel Prince - V.E. Schwab & Budi Setiawan

Welcome to my stop on the blog for the stunning second volume of V.E. Schwab's Shades Of Magic: The Steel Prince graphic novel. Night Of Knives follows on from the first volume (a bindup of the first 4 issues) and once again features the outstanding artwork of Budi Setiawan. First though, a quick mention about Vol. 1 in the series!

In this first volume, we're introduced to Maxim Maresh - father of Rhy and adopted father of Kell. Maxim is Crown Prince and sent to a barracks on the far reaches of his father's rule to stop him researching magic. Little does Nokil, King of Arnes, realize but this might just be the making of Maxim and almost definitely not the end of his research into the magics that have separated all the Londons. There is a passage in A Conjuring Of Light that is mentioned at the front of Volume 1 where Maxim and his youth are mentioned, and this is where Shades Of Magic: The Steel Prince comes from. Maxim clashes with the Pirate Queen, aunt of one of his soldiers, and this forms the plot for the first four issues.

In Shades Of Magic: The Steel Prince - Knight Of Knives, Maxim is settling into both town and base but the soldiers under his command are struggling with the fact that he is the Crown Prince as well as their commanding officer. Desperate to do something to make the troops respect him, he foolishly listens when Isra tells him about the Night Of Knives, a competition held in four stages where competitors either don't complete all four stages or die trying.

I'm a huge fan of the Shades Of Magic novel series so I was thrilled to hear there would be a comic series about Maxim but sad to hear there would only be 12 issues (or 3 collections). I dove in with high hopes and wasn't disappointed. It was so good to fill in the background of Rhy and Kell's father, to see what he was like as a young mand and to gain some insight into his upbringing with his father.

I don't think you need to have read the Shades of Magic series to delve into The Steel Prince but some of the place names and characters may be a little confusing if you haven't already read about them. Antari is mentioned but the only way you would know what that meant is by having read the books.

The Steel Prince is a fast read, each 'issue' feels short but Schwab crams a lot into the storyline and is incredibly interpreted by Setiawan's illustrations. I'm now eagerly awaiting vol. 3 of The Steel Prince, The Rebel Army, which comes out in April next year. I think after that I'll be rereading A Darker Shade Of Magic, A Gathering Of Shadows, and A Conjuring Of Light to see how knowing Maxim's story changes anything. It might not but it's an excuse to reread the books.

If you want to, I reviewed A Darker Shade Of Magic way back in 2015 - feel free to check it out here!

Shades Of Magic: The Steel Prince Vol. 2 - Night Of Knives
V.E. Schwab, Budi Setiawan, Andrea Olimpieri, Enrica Eren Angiolini, Viviana Spinelli & Rob Steen
Publisher - Titan Comics
ISBN - 9781782762119
Release date - November 2019
Find - Goodreads

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