Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince: Night of Knives by V.E. Schwab

Title: Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince.
Story-Arc: Night of Knives.
Volume: 2.
Writer(s): V.E. Schwab.
Penciller(s): Budi Setiawan.
Inker(s): Budi Setiawan & Andrea Olimpieri.
Colourist(s): Enrica Eren AngioliniViviana Spinelli.
Letterer(s): Rob Steen.
Publisher: Titan Comics.
Format: Paperback.
Release Date: October 16th 2019.
Pages: 112.
Genre(s): Comics, Fantasy.
ISBN13: 9781782762119.
My Overall Rating: ★★☆☆☆.

Previously on The Steel Prince:
Shades of Magic (Vol. 1): The Steel Prince.


The accomplishments by the #1 New York Times bestselling author are not unbeknownst by readers today. Her gritty and deadly stories glow with an immersive and addictive quality that makes for a truly entertaining ride, whether you see it coming or not. Looking to continue her comic book trilogy by exploring the secret adventures of Maxim, a character that first made his appearance in the Shades of Magic series, V.E. Schwab expands her universe through a new medium that makes for a unique visual experience. It is now time to find out if she was able to learn from the flaws of her first installment.

What is Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince: Night of Knives about? Collecting issues #5-8, the story picks up right after events in the first volume, with the showdown against the Pirate Queen. Sent to Verose by the king as an exercise to not only redeem himself to his father’s eyes but to build his character and show signs of a future ruler, the young and arrogant prince Maxim Maresh now needs to earn the respect of those who live in the port town of Verose and to do so, he wishes to take on the infamous challenges of the Night of Knives, a four-part trial that none has ever successfully completed.


As much as I wanted to remain hopeful for Schwab’s comic book series, this second installment further confirmed my fears for the fate of this run, with only one more volume left to conclude this little detour. Compressed in just four relatively short issues, the story never finds the time to give the reader the chance to care for anything that happens to a protagonist that only thinks about his rulership and takes decisions oriented towards his goals. The story also dives right into new lore elements, dumping most of the world-building elements within a page, before focusing on action sequences. Even moments meant to push the character’s development felt underwhelming and accelerated, almost making it feel like a waste of time.

Although the artwork isn’t the most mediocre style that I have ever seen so far, it still struggles immensely to convey the world’s magical elements. It doesn’t help when action sequences are messy and many sequences felt choppy, leaving the reader wondering if it’s just them or if certain panels were actually missing to help connect the dots. The worse probably lies in the rough and unimpressive facial expressions drawn by the artists on this project that leave you bewildered at the bleakness of the comic book. Even the colouring is questionable, with some panels filled in with no finesse or nuance, almost as if it was meant to hide the lack of substance in the story.

Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince: Night of Knives is a short and flawed episode in the Steel Prince’s life that fails to capture the magic of the series with its choppy and unappealing visual style.


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Thank you to Penguin Random House Canada for sending me a copy for review!



32 thoughts on “Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince: Night of Knives by V.E. Schwab

  1. I’ve been curious to see how Schwab’s Shades of Magic universe translated into the pages of the graphic novel and I am so sad to hear that it doesn’t capture the magic of this universe, even more so that the story of Maxim ascension to the throne lacks in substance.

    Liked by 1 person

  2. V E Schwab is probably one of those authors that I haven’t read any work of yet because I feel so overwhelmed by all the glittering reviews! 😂😂 And yours has given me hope. I wasn’t exactly looking for a negative review before starting any of her series…just that….it’s a reassurance that now there is room for me to dislike what I read, should I feel like that. 😅😅
    And you have made your disappointment with this one sounds so very professional that I don’t …I…..I JUST LOVED IT, OKAY!!? Yeah! 🤣🤣🤪🤩

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Hahahahaha unfortunately, I can’t say the same with her novels because I love Vicious and Vengeful. I also enjoyed the first book of the Darker Shades trilogy (I still need to finish it). It’s just that if you read the books and then jump into the comics, I don’t believe you can actually be impressed by this… Hope your first attempt at a Schwab book will be positive though, Rain! 😀 Thank you so much for your kind words hahaha 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    2. I read the first Shades of Magic book and I loved it because the world-building was great and the magical system airtight, but… I read her adult (NA?) book Vicious, another YA titled This Savage Song, and her first Middle Grade… City of Ghosts and hated them all. They were filled with plot conveniences, continuity problems, and huge coincidences. The magical/paranormal rules were broken half of the time to move the stories forward, and with zero explaination. To me it’s like a completely different author wrote the A Darker Shade of Magic. I plan on finishing the Shades trilogy and that will be it for Schwab and me. Ha ha. 😏

      Liked by 2 people

      1. Hahahah I think This Savage Song was my favourite of her books so far. I do like when she writes adult/new adult stories as I often feel like it takes off restraints on her creativity but I am now super intrigued by what you just had to say about those books though. I’ll probably look into completing the Shades of Magic trilogy though. The first book was indeed pretty cool!


  3. I’ve read two books in the Shades of Magic series, and as I already struggled with maintaining any interest in the second one I decided not to finish the series 😉 Seems like a good decision – especially considering that your review mightily struggles not to get down into the realm of a 1 star 😂😂

    Liked by 1 person

      1. I intend to do precisely that! 😀
        I must say I got the impression that you tried to be very gentle in your review – despite the many glaring flaws you so diligently pointed out 😉 soft spot for Schwab’s work or just general generosity? 😉

        Liked by 1 person

  4. Oh wow… I totally see what you’re talking about the facial expressions!! Those are bad. The art in general looks pretty basic. I think these based on popular series comics are so all about the money that the love they need just isn’t invested in them. It sounds like the story itself isn’t good either. Personally I felt the books were pretty poor but one hopes the incredible world can support other stories.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Ohhh, there’s worse in there but it would’ve spoiled things. It’s just so unrefined and unimpressive. I would never have imagined the Darker Shades universe like this. And yes, I remember how the books disappointed you hahah I think you can skip this quite easily. 😂


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