Tag Archives: Shades of Magic

Book Review: Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince (Vol 1-3) by V.E. Schwab (3/5)

28 Jul

After reading the Shades of Magic series, I was intrigued by another story set in the same universe. I’m not great with graphic novels because I tend to skim the pictures and just read the words, but I thought I’d give this a try. It was a good thing to pick up and ready while Baby was falling asleep, even if it was hard to read on my phone at times. I got faster at it and ended up blowing through the first volume in two days. I thought I’d finish the collection before reviewing it here.

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Cover image via Amazon

Shades of Magic: The Steel Prince Volumes 1-3 by V.E. Schwab

Other books by Schwab reviewed on this blog:
A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)
A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2)
A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3)

Summary from Amazon:

Delve into the thrilling, epic tale of the young and arrogant Prince Maxim Maresh, long before he became the King of Red London and adoptive father to Kell, the lead of A Darker Shade of Magic.

The youthful Maresh is sent to a violent and unmanageable port city on the Blood Coast of Verose, on strict orders from his father, King Nokil Maresh, to cut his military teeth in this lawless landscape.

It’s been about three years since I finished this series so I didn’t remember a lot of detail about King Maxim. This book didn’t require that I knew a lot since it was a backstory and I enjoyed a relatively fresh slate in a very rich world that I knew well. It was nice not to have to set up the magic that existed and be able to jump right to the story. The stories were a little more surface than I’d hoped for, but appropriate to the graphic novel format. The artwork was also superb. I enjoyed these, but I didn’t fall in love like I did with the original trilogy.

Maxim was so confident and cocky that it was hard for me to believe he was real. But the character I remember from the original series was also cold and distant so this version of him, a boy who had to be hardened, made some sense. He became a little less likeable and believable in Volume 2 but I liked him by Volume 3. His relationship with Isra was really great to develop and I liked that character a lot.

Isra was a great character, but she didn’t get quite the amount of ‘screen time’ I would have liked. She was very much a side kick and a great source of backstory. She was most involved in Volume 1 and I would have liked to see more of her in the other volumes since we know she and Maxim become very good friends. It felt like she was planned into the first story, but was almost forgotten about after that.

I could empathize with Maxim in the second volume when he felt he had to prove himself to earn respect. I’ve felt that way when I come into a new situation, whether it be a job, a social group, or a community. I’ve never put my life at risk the way he did, but I could understand why he felt compelled to do so.

Schwab

V.E. Schwab Image via EW

The Night of Knives, Volume 2, was my favorite. I liked the idea of a magical tool to test yourself. It reminded me a bit of the Divergent series when the characters would take a serum to test their fears. I liked the magical take on it instead of future science.

I was expecting a little more of the Rebel Army in volume 3. Rowan is built to be such a big villain and he’s able to cause so much destruction. It seemed to be rather easy to defeat them. I wish it was a little more of a struggle which I think would have been realistic.

Rather than talk about the narrator as I do for audiobooks, I want to talk about the illustrator. Andrea Olimpieri was the main illustrator and I liked the art for the most part. There were times I struggled to determine who the character was became some scenes were very dark and a few of the characters looked alike. I think he did a great job with the color scheme and the clothing for the characters. Sometimes the clothing was more helpful at figuring out who someone was than the faces!

King Nokil sent Maxim to Verose to teach him to lead and I think that was accomplished across these three stories. I’m not sure if there’s need for a fourth volume or if one is in the works. Maxim starts as arrogant and it doesn’t serve him well. He learns to lead and earn respect and is tested in the end. The story has a nice arc overall and I did enjoy revisiting the world of the Shades of Magic.

Writer’s Takeaway: I read that Schwab wrote these plots from one line of dialogue in the original trilogy and the idea of that is amazing to me. She thought so much about her characters and what made them the way they are that she could write a comic series about it. I think it’s wonderful to see her still living in the Shades of Magic world and exploring it so deeply. It can seem like a bit of a ‘cash grab’ to publish prequels and sequels to a series as successful as hers was, but I like that she took a very different approach by switching to comics for this release.

I enjoyed this overall but I’m going to stand by saying that comics aren’t my thing. Three out of Five Stars.

This book/comic series fulfills the 1700-1799 time period of the When Are You Reading? Challenge.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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Related Posts:
Review | The Steel Prince by V.E. Schwab & Andrea Olimpieri (Shades of Magic Vol. 1) | Servillas Speaks
Graphic Novel Book Review: THE SHADES OF MAGIC COMICS by V.E. Schwab | Sifa Elizabeth Reads
V.E. Schwab and Andrea Olimpieri – The Steel Prince | SFF Book Reviews
The Steel Prince by VE Schwab | the words gremlin

Challenge Update, October 2019

4 Nov

I’m really happy to have continued to make good progress. I didn’t know how the new job and a focus on swimming were going to go but I can’t complain about the amount of reading I’ve still been able to do. You can look at my progress at any time on my challenge page.

Books finished in October:

The King’s Curse // Philippa Gregory (3/5)
A Conjuring of Light // V.E. Schwab (4/5)
We Sold Our Souls // Grady Hendrix (4/5)
When I Crossed No-Bob // Margaret McMullan (3/5)
The Travels of a T-Shirt in the Global Economy (3/5)
Beautiful Ruins // Jess Walter (4/5)

A pretty good mix here and a lot of different genres covered. I’m overall happy with it.

When Are You Reading? Challenge

10/12
I was able to tick off the 1500-1699 time period with The King’s Curse. The Tudors are almost always a good bet for a book in that time period and they never seem to disappoint. I’m working on one more time period and it’s just the final one that I’ve still got to figure out.

Goodreads Challenge

53/52
WOOO! I finished up this last month and I have to admit it feels great to have one challenge completed. I’m still not sure if I’ll keep this level for next year or up it a bit but it was a good challenge as is so I’m tempted to keep it.

Book of the Month

The honor this month goes to a very satisfying end to a series, A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab. I enjoyed the ending to this series and I’m really excited to hear Schwab is returning to the world with some more books. I’m OK with meeting some new characters, but the world of magic she created is way too fun to abandon.

Added to my TBR

I’m down only one more to 66 this month. A little bit is still progress, right? I’d like to think I’ve added for good reasons.

Personal Challenge

I’m gearing up again to track personal goals here. This is a great way to keep me accountable and to tell you about me outside the wide world of books.

  • Finish 70.3 Half Ironman: DONE!
  • Attend six weddings: DONE! The last two were back to back weekends and it was utterly exhausting but absolutely amazing. I’m ready for a ‘calm’ year in 2020 with only two.
  • Finish a weather blanket: I’m behind and working to catch up again. I’m afraid I’m going to run out of one yarn so I went out and bought a bunch more but now I might not need it after all. Sigh.
  • Write: I’m taking an extreme measure here and doing NaNo! I got nervous before I submitted my last manuscript and I’m giving myself a kick in the pants to get moving and write if I’m too nervous to submit! I need to get over it eventually, granted, but maybe this will make me brave?
  • See my friends more: This is going so well. My husband and I hosted a party on Saturday and had at least 25 people come! In our apartment, that’s a lot of people! I’ve made a big effort to see my swimming friends more, too. It’s been really fun to talk about swimming with other swim nerds so often!

How are your challenges going so far? I hope you’re off to a good start. If you love historical fiction, give some thought to my challenge for 2020, it’s fun!

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

Book Review: A Conjuring of Light by V.E. Schwab (4/5)

22 Oct

After a pitifully long amount of time between books one and two, I decided to plow ahead with book three in this trilogy. I was glad to find the audiobook but a bit shocked by how long it was. It got me through half marathon training, the half itself, and then some. I was glad to finally wrap this one up on a car trip so I can move on. However, I can’t stop thinking about the world Schwab created.

Cover image via Goodreads

A Conjuring of Light (Shades of Magic #3) by V.E. Schwab

Other books by Schwab reviewed on this blog:

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)
A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2)

Summary from Goodreads:

THE BALANCE OF POWER HAS FINALLY TIPPED…
The precarious equilibrium among four Londons has reached its breaking point. Once brimming with the red vivacity of magic, darkness casts a shadow over the Maresh Empire, leaving a space for another London to rise.

WHO WILL CRUMBLE?
Kell – once assumed to be the last surviving Antari – begins to waver under the pressure of competing loyalties. And in the wake of tragedy, can Arnes survive?

WHO WILL RISE?
Lila Bard, once a commonplace – but never common – thief, has survived and flourished through a series of magical trials. But now she must learn to control the magic, before it bleeds her dry. Meanwhile, the disgraced Captain Alucard Emery of the Night Spire collects his crew, attempting a race against time to acquire the impossible.

WHO WILL TAKE CONTROL?
And an ancient enemy returns to claim a crown while a fallen hero tries to save a world in decay.

This book took up right where the second one left off which was one reason I wanted to jump right into it. While book one to book two had a time lag, this had none at all and could have easily been a single (very long) novel. It made me realize that the second book was a lot of character development and not a lot that was essential to the plot. Anyway, moving back to this one. This book was all action from chapter one and I appreciated that while I was running and listening. It did become a bit exhausting at times, but I enjoyed it overall. The character development here was great, especially Alucard. I felt the plot was a bit more drawn out than it needed to be, but it was still exciting so I didn’t care much.

Kell and Lila were well developed in this book. Their established personalities weren’t taken off course but we saw Kell grow and Lila soften which were needed. Rhy grew a lot, too. Arguably, he grew the most and I really liked his character progression. While some characters plateau in later books in a series, these didn’t and I liked how Schwab handled them.

Rhy was my favorite character. He’d been very immature in earlier books and it was great to see him mature so much without it feeling forced. He grew in his ‘career’ and in his relationships. Of any character, he was one who started to change in book two while the others stayed static and this book really brought him into his character.

While it was a very fantastical world with overly action-packed plots, the emotions in this book rang true to modern life. Kell and Lila are struggling with feelings they’ve never had before and dealing with changes they hadn’t anticipated seeing. Alucard is dealing with his past and trying to reconcile mixed emotions. Schwab did an amazing job of drawing relatable characters in her fictional world and I really enjoyed being a part of their story.

V.E. Schwab
Image via EW

Rhy’s plotline when he stayed back in Arnes was my favorite part of the book. He showed his bravery and maturity and dealt with very mixed emotions which must have been a huge challenge. While exploring the seas was fun, having someone stay in the castle where so much of the series had taken place kept the book rooted and I think it made it feel more consistent with the rest of the series.

As fun as it was, the adventure to the floating market wasn’t a part I particularly enjoyed. It gave the characters a way to get the items they needed to defeat their enemy, but it was a lot of time that I didn’t feel was particularly necessary for a book that was already long. I’m not sure how it could have been shortened, but I think it could have been.

The audiobook was narrated by Kate Reading and Michael Kramer, the same narrators as the previous book. I thought they did a fabulous job yet again, especially Kramer who had so many characters to narrate. He gave the appropriate weight to the heavy parts of the book and was fun during the playful times. Granted, there weren’t many of those in this dark novel.

Forgiveness was a big theme in this novel. Especially for Alucard. He literally sacrifices some of his life to tell Rhy he’s sorry and explain to him why he left. He didn’t feel an apology was enough but Rhy was ready to forgive him. I think this dovetails with Rhy growing up. I’m not sure he would have been able to forgive in the second book and he wouldn’t have been able to at all in the first. I think their relationship shows the character development in this book wonderfully.

Writer’s Takeaway: The world-building Schwab did for these books is incredible and deserved to be explored in three books. I’m told there is another trilogy coming in this world and I’m so excited to see what else happens in it. The intricacies that Schwab developed about the way people in different worlds/countries look, talk, carry themselves, and act was amazingly well done and I really appreciated how deep into it the reader was able to go. I have a lot of respect for fantasy writers who are able to do this.

Overall, a very enjoyable book. Four out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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Review: A Conjuring of Light (V.E. Schwab) | Bookloves Review

Book Review: A Gathering of Shadows by V.E. Schwab (4/5)

26 Aug

I’m embarrassed that it took me this long to get to this book. I liked the first one in the series, but a lot of other books squeezed their way in between and it’s been more than three years since I started this series. That’s far too long. I remembered most of the first book, but there were details I’d forgotten and I think it hurt my reading of this book a little bit. I hope I can get to the third in a more timely fashion.

Cover image via Goodreads

A Gathering of Shadows (Shades of Magic #2) by V.E. Schwab

Other books by Schwab reviewed on this blog:

A Darker Shade of Magic (Shades of Magic #1)

Summary from Goodreads:

It has been four months since a mysterious obsidian stone fell into Kell’s possession. Four months since his path crossed with Delilah Bard. Four months since Prince Rhy was wounded, and since the nefarious Dane twins of White London fell, and four months since the stone was cast with Holland’s dying body through the rift–back into Black London.

Now, restless after having given up his smuggling habit, Kell is visited by dreams of ominous magical events, waking only to think of Lila, who disappeared from the docks as she always meant to do. As Red London finalizes preparations for the Element Games–an extravagant international competition of magic meant to entertain and keep healthy the ties between neighboring countries–a certain pirate ship draws closer, carrying old friends back into port.

And while Red London is caught up in the pageantry and thrills of the Games, another London is coming back to life. After all, a shadow that was gone in the night will reappear in the morning. But the balance of magic is ever perilous, and for one city to flourish, another London must fall.

The start of the book was a good mix between a review of the first and picking up right where it left off. Lila and Kell’s parting was one of the few details I’d forgotten so I struggled with that a bit before I could settle into this book. Once I did, the book picked up right away and took us on a completely different adventure and I was all in. I loved the idea of the Element Games. It seems like a logical step to take in international relations with the magic that exists in that world. I found it a little unsettling that Lila could get in so easily, but I was able to suspend my disbelief and still have fun with it. The cliffhanger ending was the only part I didn’t enjoy. I wish it had wrapped up a little cleaner before cutting to book three.

Lila and Kell are well developed and that’s part of what makes them so likable. I’m not going to claim I’m anything like either of them or that I could be friends with them, but I can understand why they are the way they are and their reactions seemed in line with their characters. The secondary characters in this one, particularly Rhy and Alucard, were great and rounded out the cast well.

Alucard was my favorite character and I hope he has a big role in the final book. His story was great and I liked how he fit into both Lila and Kell’s stories. I’d like to hear more about him and I think we will going forward.

There were elements of each character’s story that I could relate to, but the fantastical setting kept me from fully sympathizing with anyone for the whole book. Alucard wanted to be accepted by his family, Lila wanted to prove herself, and Kell wanted independence. They were all relatable in some way, but without being able to travel between parallel worlds or the ability to control water, I was a bit too distant from them.

V.E. Schwab
Image via EW

The Element Games battles were my favorite part. They reminded me of a mix between The Hunger Games, and The Triwizard Tournament but much less deadly. I liked hearing about the ways Kell and Lila came up with to use their elements and win the battles. I liked the idea of it being a spectator sport and the ways Lila twisted the games to work for her. IT was a fun structure to build the book around.

The ending was frustrating! It was a total cliffhanger and left me a bit angry. I do not like cliffhangers and to me, it’s a sign that the books should have been combined into a longer volume and a publisher nixed that to make more money. The first book wrapped up somewhat nicely with a big event but this one stopped right before it. I wonder if this was Schwab’s plan all along or if it’s due to a quick money grab. It frustrated me.

The audiobook I listened to was narrated by Kate Reading and Michael Kramer. I liked the dual-narrator as it played well with the dual-POV of the book. It can sometimes feel odd when a male narrator reads a female part and vice versa. I liked the decision to use both for this. Kramer was great. He has a way of using his low voice to add weight to Kell’s voice while giving Rhy an airy demeanor. Reading was good as well, but I think Kramer overshadowed her.

Kell has to sacrifice a lot for Rhy and his adoptive family. Eventually, he was asked to sacrifice too much. This book seemed to focus on what Kell was asked to give up, for who, and by who. The things Rhy asked of him never seemed too much though they might have been hard. Lila never asked him for anything but he’d give up almost everything for her. What the King and Queen asked of him always seemed too much. Maybe it has something to do with who asks, but also what they asked.

Writer’s Takeaway: Schwab has created a rich world in Red London. It’s parallels to Grey London and differences with White London are wonderfully illustrated. Her world-building is really commendable and I think it’s something a historical fiction writer can learn from. That’s an element of my book I could probably work on and Schwab has given a good example. It’s not just about the physical geography of the place, but the smells and sounds as well; the people who exist around the main cast and the ones that only come into play briefly. It’s the whole thing.

I enjoyed the book, though the ending frustrated me. Four out of Five Stars.

Until next time, write on.

You can follow me on GoodreadsFacebookTwitterPinterest, and Instagram. I’m available via email at SamAStevensWriter@gmail.com. And as always, feel free to leave a comment!

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