This book was literally on its way to me when I read CoffeeShopReader’s review of Night of Knives. I debated reading the review but ultimately decided to find out their take. CoffeeShopReader’s review title is, ” Not enough panels to cover the possibilities”, and now having read the book, I agree with the sentiment. There is a lot of story that gets stuffed into Night of Knives.
There is an interview with Schwab in the back and in it she talks about turning a few sentences about the accomplishments of King Maxim from A Darker Shade of Magic into a full story.
The Steel Prince, who tore the heart from the rebel army. The Steel Prince, who survived the night of knives. The Steel Prince, who slayed the pirate queen.”
This was the spark for the graphic novels to flesh out Maxim’s character. Spinning out story for the rebel army and killing the pirate queen were fairly straightforward. But when originally writing, Schwab didn’t think about what the “night of knives” was, she just thought it sounded cool. Resulting in this story needing to be reverse engineered, what is the night of knives and then how does one survive it?
Her solution is that the night of knives is a series of four magical trials. Anyone can attempt the trials but once a person enters, they either succeed or die. After each completion the contestant can decide to go further or stop the trials there. The further through the trials one advances, the more notoriety and respect will be gained. No one has ever survived the fourth trial.
Killing the pirate queen was not enough for Maxim to gain the respect of the tough soldiers who are stationed in Verose. So he decides that facing the night of knives is the fastest way to command the esteem of the troops. Royal guard member, Isra, cautions Maxim that the trials aren’t just about strength but restraint, the knowledge of when to stop.
Just covering the four trials would have been sufficient to fill a graphic novel. Crammed along side the night of knives is a villian, who seems to have little purpose, and a shocking surprise at the end, learning about the origins of the night. Discovering the identity of the creator of the challenges, and why they wanted to ensnare Maxim in particular, is very compelling but there are only a handful of pages to squeeze that in and it makes everything feel rushed.
I enjoyed this second volume in Schwab’s Steel Prince saga but not quite as much as the first. I’m hoping the third volume will be better balanced in the amount of story it will tell in the number of pages allowed in the format.