I’m not sure if I like this habit I seem to have started of not getting into part of a sequence until the next one is out or close. It seems a little silly on the one hand, but it also makes sense. I do have to admit though that this time it mostly worked out; I liked The Steel Prince: Night of Knives better than I did the first The Steel Prince (the Pirate Queen), so now all I need to do is order the final volume which just recently came out.
There was a little more character development for Maxim in this one where he’s more directly trying to fit into the Royal Guards while being royalty himself. So how’s he going to prove himself? Enter the deadly magic tournament no one’s ever finished of course. The vibe with Isra is still there, but it’s not over done and doesn’t really get in the way of the story. The problem for me though is that the book tries to tell and entire story with a limited amount of space; it’s a traditional comic book set up and there just is not enough room to develop the plot for the whole Night of Knives concept. Both in terms of back story, the challenges, and the outcome of the whole thing, it just seems rushed, especially with the reveal of who was behind the Night and how they’re connected to Maxim. The whole finale seems too rushed, and it’s a wasted chance for even a little more character or story for Maxim who doesn’t have a whole lot to do in the original Shades of Magic trilogy except come off as too strict and sometimes unfeeling.
The other thing that bothered me a little is that the villain who wants Maxim dead this time has so little motive for it; that too is part of rushing the story to fit the medium and it doesn’t help that the villain once revealed looks exactly like the obstacle figure from the beginning of the book. Their faces are too similar, and I’m fairly sure they are supposed to be genuinely different characters.
I honestly do appreciate the building of some background for Maxim as well as the historical world-building, but there’s just so much missing that could be there with either another volume or two, or a different medium.