“This was Vere, voluptuous and decadent, country of honeyed poison”
Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the truthful heir to the throne of Akielos, but when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave.
Beautiful, manipulative and deadly, his new master Prince Laurent epitomizes the worst of the court at Vere. But in the lethal political web of the Veretian court, nothing is as it seems, and when Damen finds himself caught up in a play for the throne, he must work together with Laurent to survive and save his country.
For Damen, there is just one rule: never, ever reveal his true identity. Because the one man Damen needs is the one man who has more reason to hate him than anyone else…
TW: For Rape, Abuse, Sexual Exploitation, Slavery
Published by Berkley Books, Captive Prince, Prince’s Gambit, and Kings’ Rising make up this trilogy of books from C. S. Pacat. With two neighboring kingdoms, a long standing history of violence between them, and political back door dealings, this series is ripe with tension. Throw a coup into the mix and that upheaval is where Pacat begins her tale of Akielos and Vere.
Damen and Laurent are the heart of this story, two enemy princes thrown together by the worst of circumstances. Damen is a steadying presence, honorable and caring. His concern for other people is endearing. Laurent starts off as a complete asshole, lashing out with anger, but there is more to him than meets the eye. Under that rage is a cunning mind that needs to be in control. They are in opposition; one light, the other dark.
Beginning as slave and master, the development between Damen and Laurent is gradual, peeling back the layers of personal and political baggage. Whether they like it or not, the two of them are stuck together, and it’s made more difficult by the past. Laurent is closed off, but Damen more open. The tension is off the charts dramatic but Pacat handles it all so well. Slow burn, deepening understanding…this one’s got it all.
I’m a sucker for political intrigue and this trilogy is full to the brim with backstabbing, manipulation, shifting sides, plotting, and a whole load of secrets. In this world, putting your trust in someone will likely get you killed. From Laurent’s uncle, The Regent, to Damen’s half brother, Kastor, each and every player keeps their plans to themselves and the reveals kept me on the edge of my seat. It’s kind of like A Song of Ice and Fire without eight million characters. Plus no waiting for another book…
The world of the Captive Prince trilogy, harsh and unforgiving, was probably the most difficult aspect of this series for me. Slavery takes a prominent role, both Akielos and Vere partake in it but with very different outcomes. On one side, Akielos, treats there slaves with decorum; preparing them, and sex is a private affair. Vere, on the other hand has rape and sexual acts as entertainment, for all eyes to see. The focus, thankfully, does shift more after the first book.
Overall C. S. Pacat’s Captive Prince trilogy was an extremely enjoyable read. While the first book is bogged down with worldbuilding and extreme cultures, the other two make up for lost time with plenty of character development and high stakes. Damen and Laurent’s journey was compelling and the ending was oh so satisfying. I’d definitely recommend them but warn of mature themes and possible triggers.
So, when did you first hear about this series? If you’ve read them, did the first book deter you from continuing? Other thoughts, feelings, etc.? Leave it in the comments below!