Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince Vol. 2 – Night of Knives, published by Titan Comics, is written by V.E. Schwab, with art and inks in Chapter 1 by Budi Setiawan, inks in Chapter 2-4 by Andrea Olimpieri, colors by Enrica Eren Angiolini, with color assists from Viviana Spinelli, and lettering from Rob Steen. Night of Knives is part of the greater Shades of Magic universe. This collection compiles Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince’s second volume’s issues one through four.
After facing the dastardly Pirate Queen, the young and arrogant prince Maxim Maresh, gifted with the ability to bend steel to his will, sets his sights on entering Night of Knives, a series of four grueling trials held in the tunnels beneath the town. Behind each door within the Night of Knives is a room designed to challenge a different kind of strength and cull out the weak. The Night of Knives is more than a battle of strength, it is a battle between ego and restraint. And while the rules might be simple – enter alone carrying whatever you like – surviving will prove to be his biggest challenge yet.
The crown prince Maxim Maresh is a fierce fighter. He is brash, arrogant, and can hold his own easily, even against his men. But even after defeating the Pirate Queen, Maxim’s troops, who he has led to the forefront of the Arnesian Army, don’t respect him. When he learns of the Night of Knives trials from Irsa, a royal guard serving at the Arnesian Army base, Maxim feels this is his only chance to earn respect. The trial only has two outcomes – victory or death.
Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince Vol. 2 – Night of Knives is an engaging young adult fantasy adventure. Despite his flaws, Maxim’s desire to be a better prince and leader is commendable. He respects Irsa greatly, and while he heeds her warnings about the trials, he encounters unexpected forces that not she could have predicted.
While facing the challenges, Maxim has to draw on everything he has learned from those around him. The experience humbles him while also building confidence in him he didn’t have before. Maxim’s arrogance was often a shield and a way to hide his insecurities. Schwab is able to create a flawed protagonist that is still likable, something that is not easy to do.
As the trials go on and Maxium is tested, Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince Vol. 2 – Night of Knives features strong and empowering images of Maxium overcoming defeat. Setiawan’s art features heavy, dark lines that are shaded and colored with a darker color palate by Angiolini and Spinelli. The action-heavy sequences feature a dynamic panel design that works well to keep the movement fluid. Additionally, a lot of the more impactful panels have minimal lettering, only showing a small snippet of Maxium’s internal monologue. That choice, from Steen, was brilliant, adding not only impact to Schwab’s script but also Setiawan’s art.
Prior to starting Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince Vol. 2 – Night of Knives, I was unsure how I would feel about the volume as I had never picked up any of the previous books in the series. However, the volume starts by introducing new readers to essential characters and offers a summary of prior events. That background was enough for me to enjoy this volume greatly. Night of Knives is a must-read for fans of the series, but any fans of similar YA series, like the Percy Jackson series, can pick up Night of Knives without fear of being lost.
Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince Vol. 2 – Night of Knives is available now everywhere comic books are sold and online.
Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince Vol. 2 - Night of Knives
Night of Knives is a must-read for fans of the series, but any fans of similar YA series, like the Percy Jackson series, can pick up Night of Knives without fear of being lost.