Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince: The Rebel Army by V.E. Schwab

TITLE: Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince.
Volume: 3.
Story-arc: The Rebel Army.
WRITER(S): V.E. Schwab.
Artist(S): Andrea Olimpieri & Alessandro Cappuccio.
Colourist(s): Enrica Eren Angiolini & Alice Konoki.
Letterer: Rob Steen.
Titan Comics.

FORMAT: Paperback.
RELEASE DATE: April 21st, 2020.
PAGES: 112.
GENRE(S): COMICS, Fantasy.
ISBN13: 9781787731158.


Previously in the Shades of Magic graphic novel series:
Shades of Magic (Vol. 1): The Steel Prince by V.E. Schwab.
Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince (Vol. 2): Night of Knives by V.E. Schwab.


It’s nice to see an author attempt to explore a different medium to tell stories set in the same universe as some of their best series. Comic books offer a very unique style of story-telling where the visual elements help guide the reader into further appreciating the writer’s ideas by being quickly immersed into the familiar lands established in books and watching their characters being drawn to life. At what cost though? While the spin-offs, prequels, tie-ins, and whatnot are all exciting ideas, the execution isn’t guaranteed. After all, if there is no reward, there is only disappointment. In what should be the final story-arc in the adventures of prince Maxim Maresh, author V.E. Schwab sends her character up against a pirate fleet that will stop at nothing to take down anyone who stands in their way.

What is Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince: The Rebel Army about? The Rebel Army was nothing more than a lowly group of pirates roaming the seas aimlessly with no manpower or leadership to make something of their lives. It is the arrival of certain traitors from each of the three empires (a Faroan, a Veskan, and the Arnesian known as Rowan) who look to build their own empire with London as their capital that the Rebel Army is rebuilt into a destructive fleet. However, before establishing their new kingdom, they will have to pass by Verose where Maxim and his newly-trusting comrades will have to face them and put an end to their rampage before more lives fall to their hands.

They simply see the truth. They realize they don’t have to die for a crown that cares nothing for them, when they can rise with a tide of their own.

– V.E. Schwab

It was interesting to watch Prince Maxim Maresh try to learn to become a leader instead of rotting away as a privileged member of royalty. However, with the adventures presented in the previous story-arcs being far from original, there was no surprise with this final event as it follows down the same path and offers a generic journey of preparation to face an upcoming naval threat. On top of that, with these heroes being outnumbered, the solutions and the stakes were far too obvious and made this adventure too contrived and stale. The linearity of the narrative coupled with the generic writing to embellish the action-packed story thus offers very little reward. It doesn’t help when there’s little room to invest in the characters and their motivations as they are all mostly poorly-developed (and drawn) characters. Leave it to a banal ending where Prince Maxim Maresh learns nothing about loyalty and leadership to wrap things up and let this series set sail into oblivion.

If the lackluster story-telling wasn’t enough, the artwork should highlight this spin-off prequel’s irrelevance on top of the poor contribution of this comic book series to the original book trilogy’s universe. There’s an absence of attention to detail that is ludicrous for these short four-issue story-arcs that truly stuns me as rough penciling continues to pervade this chapter in Prince Maxim Maresh’s life. Often, there’s also a poor grasp on how to capture movement that is quickly observable and truly strips this comic book’s ability to tell a dynamic tale. The action sequences are also often difficult to understand with rarely any sense of excitement. The colouring at least establishes a gloomier tone to the overall tale and allows all the magical elements to pop off the pages as you swiftly breeze through this finale with overall disappointment.

Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince: The Rebel Army is an unimpressive finale that sends Prince Maxim Maresh into a trial of leadership that juggles life and death.




25 thoughts on “Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince: The Rebel Army by V.E. Schwab

    1. Yep. The comic book trilogy she gives us isn’t anything that I’d say is worth anyone’s time. Hardcore fans of her ADSOM trilogy are probably the only ones who would go through the trouble to pick it up just to be able to get a little bit more story on Maresh’s character.


  1. As soon as I clicked on the post, I was so sure that you will be professing your love for this one BUT IMAGINE MY SHOCK WHEN I SAW THE TWO STARS!! 😱😱😱😱

    “While the spinoffs, prequels, tie-ins are all exciting ideas, the execution isn’t guaranteed.” SOOO MUCH TRUTH THEREEEE! And on that note, I am afraid of the LOTR prequel that’s also in talks you know! I don’t know if I’ll be able to bear a disappointment on that front! 😭😭😭😭😭😭

    Damnnn!! Your talent of destroying a book in THE POLITEST WAY POSSIBLE is worthy of commendation, Lashaan! 🤣🤣 I could never do that, you know! If I hate a book – I either don’t talk about it because it makes me angry or when I do, it’s all curses and everything else that is hateful, vengeful, spiteful! 🤣🤣🤷🏻‍♀️

    And THAT is why I love reading your reviews so much and this was no different – LOVED READING EVERY WORD OF IT, AS ALWAYSSSS!! 😇🦋🌻

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Naaaah hahah I imagine you don’t remember your thoughts when you commented back on the second volume of this comic book trilogy but you mentioned that you never tried her stuff before and wasn’t sure or something if you wanted to pick up her stuff too hahaha If anything, just check out her books first before trying this spin-off comic book trilogy based on her ADSOM trilogy. 😉

      Well, at least the LOTR Amazon prequel won’t be necessarily based on anything Tolkien wrote, giving them a clean slate to work with hahahah It’ll all just depend on how open-minded the fanbase is going to be. 😉

      Hahaha thanks, Rain! I appreciate the kind words. I do like putting into words the dislike/hate I have for books though. It’s always soooo much fun. 😛

      Liked by 1 person

      1. Of course I do! But you liked her books, didn’t you? Not the comic books but…umm..the books? Shades of Magic or something, was it? Ugh! I get so confused with remembering her stuff, to be honest! 🤷🏻‍♀️🤪

        But I still stand by it – not sure if I’ll read her books, courtesy of my fear of the hyped books, you know! 😅

        Wait what’s ADSOM though?

        Wouldn’t it be? There’s a WHOLE world he created – and all those unfinished tales of middle earth that his son later published after Tolkien’s death, you know! I am just…the bar is high after the movies, you know. REAL HIGH! Wait, have you watched the movies though? 😍

        I am sorry I get a bit carried away while talking about LOTR! 🤣

        You are most welcome, Lashaan! It is! It is! But the last time a TRULY wrote a hate review, I got into trouble with Netgalley, remember? 🤣🤣

        Liked by 1 person

      2. Oh yes, I don’t think I’ve rated any of the books I read by her under 4 stars. ADSOM stands for A Darker Shade of Magic and it’s her famous trilogy from which this spin-off comic book comes from. I’ve only read the first book of that trilogy though. I mostly enjoyed her Vicious/Vengeful series for its twist on superpowers too.

        The last news I’ve read on the TV series is that it was going to explore corners of the world that Tolkien didn’t explore too much but who knows, we can only pray that they’ll stay as loyal as possible to Tolkien and his son’s stories! 😛 At least they’re taking their time with and putting a lot of money into it! That can only mean that they care about getting this right, especially when they know how successful and beloved the movies are.

        I did see the movies a couple of years ago and am going to revisit them properly once I’m done reading the trilogy (I’m currently reading the Fellowship and I’m hoping to finish the trilogy before 2021… hopefully hahaha). As for the Hobbit, well, you were there when I got through that for the first time! 😛

        And yes. That was hilarious hahahah But again, I wouldn’t let anyone, including Netgalley, stop me from writing scathing reviews that are 200% honest. 😉

        Liked by 1 person

      3. Yes. See, I remembered! 🤣 I do think that someday I will eventually read them though!

        Yeah…I…I guess. But they were gonna do that with Game of Thrones too and the way they handled the last few seasons…broke everyone’s heart! 😭😭😭 So I take everything they say now with a grain of salt. But of course, it do be good if they do end up staying REALLYYYY loyal to the books! 😇

        Yess!! I was sooo excited for your review of The Hobbit and loved the fact that you loved it! 🦋

        Haha. Yesss!! Of course! Maybe…I gotta seek a really badly written book now – The Red Queen might do nicely! 🤣🤣 Lemme go take it out of the dusty corners of my book shelf! 🤣

        Liked by 1 person

  2. Lashaan …I am just crying right now!!! Dang but I love her books so reading this… But well if it does not work it does not work there is nothing to add!

    Liked by 1 person

  3. I’m sorry you didn’t enjoy this more. I liked the original book series well enough, but I had no desire to read these, which seems like the right decision. I think this author has such a way with words, that some of the magic of the storytelling would be lost with relying more on the visual. I’m not impressed with any of the graphics, either. Great review!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I think her attempt to expand into the comic book world is innocent and that fans of her ADSOM trilogy should check these out with very low expectations just to get that little extra story-telling, especially in regards to Maxim Maresh’s past. Otherwise, if you go into these hoping it’s gold, you’re likely to be disappointed hahaha Thanks for reading, Stephanie! 😀

      Liked by 1 person

    1. Yep. V.E. Schwab loves her comic books and this attempt to expand her ADSOM trilogy to comics felt purely exploratory. If you’re a fan of the book trilogy, you should try it out but with low expectations just to appreciate it better! 😀 Thanks for reading, I appreciate it a lot! 😛


  4. It’s always unfortunate when something like this doesn’t translate well, or isn’t given the attention it might be due. I’ve never actually read anything by Schwab, though I have been curious to try her books at some point.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. I’ve read a couple of her books and mostly enjoyed her Vicious/Vengeful series (essentially a revenge plot with a twist on superheroes by focusing on the evolution of villains). As for this comic book spin-off to her A Darker Shade of Magic trilogy, I think it’s safer to go with the books first and then check out the comics if you’ve fallen head over heels for that universe hahaha Otherwise, these aren’t worth the trouble to finding and reading! 😀 Thanks for reading, Todd!


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