The Night of Knives is the second of three graphic novels in the Steel Prince series, set in V. E. Schwab’s Shades of Magic universe. In this, Maxim has defeated the Pirate Queen Arisa, but is struggling to gain the respect of the soldiers in the wild port town of Verose. So he enters the Night of Knives, a competition that few survive, and no one has completed.
I enjoyed Maxim’s character development in this one. He’s getting a lesson in what it’s like for people who aren’t royalty, and discovering that loyalty is not something he can take for granted. I also enjoyed the glimpse into his relationship with his father in this one, and how he views his father’s expectations for him. And seeing his opinions and feelings towards Antari magicians gives some insight—if not an excuse—into why he makes some of the choices he does in the Shades of Magic novels.
As for the other characters, I still love Isra. She’s bold and brave and an excellent partner for the often-impulsive, less street-smart Maxim. And a certain new character is intriguing, for spoiler-y reasons I can’t go into here.
The idea of a magical competition in this universe isn’t new, but this is quite different than the Essen Tasch featured in A Gathering of Shadows—this is a series of very personal trials, with different conflicts. They reveal aspects of Maxim’s character, rather than just being magical duels, and getting a visual of them from the artists was wonderful.
Some of the art and formatting is a bit messy, from a visual standpoint, like how it was in Steel Prince. I wish the appearances of the characters themselves were a bit more distinct, but overall, it’s interesting to see this world in a different medium. Especially the magic, which is just so cool.
In the end, The Night of Knives is a good sequel to Steel Prince, and another entertaining prequel to Darker Shade of Magic. Maxim’s journey is engaging, his relationship with the soldiers of Verose and with his own throne are evolving in intriguing ways, and the adventure is quite exciting. I’m really looking forward to the final graphic novel and seeing the rest of Maxim’s origin story!
Overall rating: 8.5/10