When I shared my review of Vengeful on FaceBook, a friend chimed in asking if I knew about Schwab’s graphic novel series. I had not and was intrigued. Then my favorite independent celebrated its grand reopening, after moving locations, so I treated myself and picked up The Steel Prince. The cover is eye catching and it instantly grabbed my attention.
At the time, I was behind in review writing and had intended to read Spinning Silver, by Naomi Novik, once the reviews were written. After just having read a graphic novel, Pumpkinheads, the thought was to read a standard novel next. However, The Steel Prince was sitting on the kitchen table, along with my pile of paperwork, and my eyes kept being drawn to it. Once caught up with reviews, I decided Spinning Silver could wait a little longer and sat down with this instead. I was almost late picking my 2nd grader up from school because I was engrossed by the book.
Schwab first introduced Maxim Maresh to readers as King of Arnes, a middle aged man with grown sons in A Darker Shade of Magic. Not at all like this swaggering, smirking, man striding forward on the cover. She hinted at his exciting past but that book wasn’t about him. This graphic novel was an opportunity to tell stories of when Prince Maxim was a brash, confident, young man, who earns the nickname ‘The Steel Prince’.
Prince Maxim has been looking for signs of Antari magicians, despite orders from his father to cease searching. As punishment he is sent to a military posting in the raucous port city of Verose. While having led troops at a remote outpost on a quiet frontier, his mettle as a leader has never been tested. The royal guard has a thin veneer of hold on keeping law in the city. But when ‘The Iron Grip’, under the command of Arisa Rasora, Pirate Queen, ties up at the docks, the guard hide and ride out the storm until she leaves. Arisa is a bone mage, she can manipulate and break bones in a person’s body with a clench of her hand.
The artist, Andrea Olimpieri, along with others, vividly bring Schawab’s world to life. I particularly liked how they visually represented the magic. Sometimes there are glyphs hanging in the air. Elements, fire, water, air, swirl around casters. Maxim is strongest with metal. He can splinter off pieces of metal from a blade he is wielding and throw them at an enemy like flechettes. I like the cut and look of clothing and armor. Maxim is quite handsome in his! The royal symbol is a chalice in front of a rising sun. The geometric interpretation in the art is not what I had envisioned at all, and I really like it.
Engaging story and art make this a thoroughly enjoyable read. If you like Schwab’s ‘Darker Shade of Magic’ series, you will definitely want to check this out. If you’ve never read the series, this could be an excellent introduction to the world and magic of Red London.