I didn’t intend to buy this. I wasn’t a big fan of the main character in the main series whence this springs. He was just there, without much detail, mostly a stereotype. Until the end in which he does something that’s supposed to be self-less and brave, but ends up seeming pointless and meaningless. But there was a display of V.E. Schwab’s stuff, since she had a re-release out and the first volume of the Shades of Magic prequel/comic: The Steel Prince. It was pretty, and I was weak. After having read it, I regret nothing. You win V. You win, and I will buy the rest of the series.
I remember seeing an interview or may social media of V.E Schwab’s talking about another book, Vengeful, in which she said she dared anyone to at least not feel for a certain character (I hated him- and I refuse to like him, even once I read that novel). I felt like she could have been talking about Maxim. In the Shades of Magic word novels, he’s just the overbearing dad who never appears to listen to his sons. Here, he actually gets page time, and becomes a much rounder more interesting character. I should say that some of this might have to do with his relationship with Isra, and how they interact. I totally didn’t remember her from the main series, in which she’s apparently a minor figure, but here she’s my kind of butt-kicking lady who has principles but struggles in the run-down world she lives in. Enter the city royal Maxim. I really enjoyed their eventual mutual respect and trust in each other, and how much he grows from knowing her.
What I didn’t like as well was the main villainess, Arisa the Pirate Queen. She didn’t have near the depth to make her interesting. It seems like she was just bad because she was powerful and she could be. I happen to like a good villain, but this one felt a little flat. I realize this kind of storytelling has to be more compact and rely on visuals more than words, but still I wish Arisa had more character to her.
The art was really pretty. This book is beautifully rendered. The only problem is that sometimes when magic is being done, I couldn’t tell exactly what the magic was. Some of the commentary at the end helped clarify, but just in pictures alone, the details just weren’t all that clear for me. Maybe it’s just because I haven’t read the main series in a while or don’t’ read a lot of comics, but it bugged me that I couldn’t quite understand the magic system as presented by actually being able to see some of it.
Minor complaints aside, this comic series has already added some really good detail and character and backstory to the world of Shades of Magic. For once, being weak for pretty books worked out for me.