REVIEW: Shades of Magic Volume 1: The Steel Prince by V.E. Schwab

The Steel PrinceTitle: Shades of Magic Volume 1: The Steel Prince by V.E. Schwab
Pages: 112
Published by: Titan Comics
Publication date: 6th March 2019
Genre: Fantasy
Format: Paperback
Amazon UK – Waterstones


Delve into the thrilling, epic tale of the young and arrogant prince Maxim Maresh, long before he became the king of Red London and adoptive father to Kell, the lead of A Darker Shade of Magic!

The youthful Maresh is sent to a violent and unmanageable port city on the Blood Coast of Verose, on strict orders from his father, King Nokil Maresh, to cut his military teeth in this lawless landscape.

There, he encounters an unruly band of soldiers, a lawless landscape, and the intoxicatingly deadly presence of the newly returned pirate queen, Arisa…

My review:

In case you didn’t know, I love Schwab and I love her books so much. The Shades of Magic trilogy is one of my favourite series and has some of my favourite characters. Her writing is honestly so magical and so creative and when I found out she was writing a graphic novel on Maxim Maresh I was all for it! I was really curious to find out what he was like as a prince in comparison to Rhy and I wanted to know how he earned the title The Steel Prince. But after reading it I must admit I was a little disappointed.

The Steel Prince begins with a young and arrogant Maxim being sent to Verose until his father calls him back once he has proved he has what it takes to be King. Of course as soon as he gets there things happen and he runs headlong into danger, not understanding the reality of the situation he finds himself in.

“You fight like a royal. Like the weapons are made of wood. Like no one means to hurt you. But this is not London, your highness.”

What I found most interesting about Maxim was his ability to bend steel to his will and I loved seeing that in the fight scenes. I loved when he just pulled it out of nowhere and surprised the people he was fighting. The art for those scenes, while incredible, was a little hard to follow as I didn’t really understand what was happening. Nevertheless, I am really excited to see more of these scenes in Volume 2 and seeing Maxim’s fighting improve.

Another character that I really liked was the Pirate Queen, Arisa. She is a bone magician; she takes away your free will and can make you hurt yourself or hurt others. It wasn’t too surprising to learn that she ignores authority and that everyone is terrified of her. I thought Schwab did a great job with her character; she was so evil and I loved the scenes where she uses her dark magic. The art was absolutely stunning and fit so perfectly with Arisa’s character. I think these were the scenes I was most appreciative of being in a graphic novel format. They definitely suited it better than if it was written in the pages of a book.

While I really enjoyed those scenes, one of the biggest disappointments was with the lack of depth and development. Each story felt so rushed and it was like each conflict was resolved in no time at all. However, I understand this is the style of graphic novels so perhaps that’s more a problem for me to sort out and not one that lies with The Steel Prince.

I also had problems with the art. I can’t deny it was impressive but I found it hard to follow sometimes. There was quite a lot of scenes where I didn’t understand what was happening and the art didn’t help me follow the story better, it just left me feeling even more confused. This is where I prefer books for their descriptive paragraphs and part of me wishes Schwab had written an actual novel as I think it would have been better.

Despite the problems I had with it, I do want to continue with this series. Like I said it is fast-paced, action-packed and there’s never a dull moment. I like all of the characters so far and I’m hoping there’ll be more development as the story continues. The art style is impressive and has some beautiful illustrations. It compliments Shades of Magic nicely but it is a little confusing at times. I’ll pore over Volume 1 again before the second one is released and hopefully I’ll understand the art style a bit more! I can’t wait to see what Maxim gets up to next and which story Schwab shares with us.


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