Creators: V E Schwab, Andrea Olimpieri and Enrica Angiolini
Rating: 5 Stars
Dates read: Oct-Jan
Publication date: 2018-2019
Publisher: Titan Comics
Genre(s): Comic, Fantasy
Written by #1 New York Times bestselling author V.E. Schwab and torn from the universe of the Shades of Magic sequence, this all-original comic book prequel to A Darker Shade of Magic is perfect for fans of bloody, swashbuckling adventure and gritty fantasy! 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…
*Image contains a collection of different covers from The Steel Prince Issues 1-4*
*This review is purposefully spoiler-free!*
I will 100% say from the outset that I look at V’s work through rose-tinted spectacles because I think she is amazing, but this was a fresh story with old characters being told in a new format and there was a chance it wouldn’t work. We received hints during the existing Shades of Magictrilogy following Kell, Rhy, Lilah, and Alucard, that Maxim has led an interesting and exciting life, I was super excited when I heard that Maxim’s story would be told through comics. The complex world that makes Red London, with the magic and bloodshed and history was something I wanted to read more about but also wanted to see more of. Between V E Schwab’s linguistic prowess, Andrea Olimpieri’s artwork, and Enrica Angiolini’s colouring abilities, Shades of Magic is an exciting and spectacular new comic series.
The first four issues, collectively entitled The Steel Prince really introduces Maxim as the Prince who is looking to spend time on the front, but really isn’t one of the guys like he wants to be. He has an undoubtedly royal air that doesn’t sit well with the no-gooders and army folk he is mixing with, and those elements create a really interesting dynamic between the characters he meets and works/fights with, and the antagonist they’re battling.
The story is naturally brilliant. The format is perfect for Maxim’s tale, and even though there is less words and actually literary content than the Shades of Magic book series, the artwork is so spectacular that it really meshes well with the dark story and the colouring adds so much depth and complexity that the characters and their actions literally lift from the pages. The magic is really well shown and drawn and the comics themselves are rich and incredible to read.
All of the issues were pretty great and seriously enjoyable – I gave them all 5 stars. There was a strong storyline, incredible relationships, and a truly villainous and powerful antagonist that was a great person to have battling Maxim. I adored the battle scenes, they were drawn with incredible detail and brought the games/competition elements to life. The cliff hangers were nothing short of evil and left me climbing the walls for the next issue, which in itself is an incredible endorsement.
This is a must read/experience for any V E Schwab fans, but is also a great story for anyone who likes pirates/magic/fantasy. I don’t think you need to have read any of the Shades of Magic books, it adds something if you have but most definitely isn’t necessary, and will most definitely leave you wanted to read the trilogy if this is your first taste of the magical world V E Schwab has created! I can’t wait for Night of Knives when it comes out in April!