Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the rightful 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…
10 Reasons to Read Captive Prince
When I decided to look into this Laurent/Damen pairing that had suddenly appeared on tumblr, I was not at all ready for the exquisite hell that is The Captive Prince trilogy. I’ve completely fallen in love with the world Pacat created, which starts out in Captive Prince; while not the best book in the series, this first book is a very solid beginning and here are 10 reasons why you should read it (because I am incapable of writing a full review without giving in to the temptation of rereading the book. I am weak, I know):
- The politics. I’ll admit, I’m not usually interested in stories focusing heavily on court politics, but the machinations behind each character’s motivations in Captive Prince are something to be admired. C. S. Pacat does a beautiful job of laying out the workings of the Veretian Court in such a way that the reader isn’t entirely overwhelmed. While it’s certainly a lot to take in, the book doesn’t simply mention something once, offhandedly, and then bring it up later while expecting you to remember it, instead, Damen sorts through the relevant information time and time again, which I found fantastic because details are lost on me 90% of the time.
- The writing. While I have a few issues with the writing here and there (it can be awkwardly phrased at times, stunted in some places), overall it’s incredibly easy to get through and genuinely reads like a stream of consciousness at times: Flashbacks will be inserted during a scene with no obvious break, while the style, tone, and writing correspond to the culture Damen grew up with: straightforward and devoid of excessive ornamentation.
- Heterosexuality is practically illegal. At least it’s considered a taboo in Vere, which is an incredibly interesting mindset to place yourself in.
- The Veretian Court. Okay, okay I know the Veretian court is decadent, debauched, frankly disgusting but hear me out. As a reader,I went through the same journey as Damen when it came to the court: I found the sheer amount of depravity depicted incredibly disgusting but the contrast with Laurent made it all worth it. Damen insists again and again on this stark difference between the Crown Prince and his court, which reveals the relationship Laurent has with his uncle, but also casts Laurent in a completely new light.
- Damen aka My Precious Cinnamon Roll. Damen is such a pure and innocent character, it’s almost comical to witness his reactions to Veretian customs. While not nearly as cunning as Laurent (although, let’s face it, that level can only be achieved by, like, 2 other characters in the whole series), once he grows accustomed to the convoluted Veretian ways, he becomes an asset to Laurent’s side, even going so far as to tolerate his master (for about 5 seconds, more than that would be taking it too far).
- Laurent aka Utter Shit Stain. If you have a fondness for cold, arrogant, even cruel (at times) little shits, then look no further. From the very beginning, Laurent comes off as yet another spoilt brat set to inherit the throne, but his actions reveal a much more complex character that had me constantly rearranging my image of him.
- The Interactions between Laurent and Damen. There isn’t a single scene in the book where Laurent and Damen behave as master and slave, even though they do try. At first their interactions are fueled by mutual hate towards each other but once they get used to the idea of being stuck together, their snark is really something to behold. On a deeper level, I also appreciated Damen’s knowledge on Laurent affects his behaviour towards him (especially considering how radically different his behaviour is at the end of the book).
- The villain. I’m not going to say much because I don’t want to spoil anyone, but the villain is so well written. Once I got used to the Veretian court I expected the villain to be just as manipulative but when I wasn’t prepared for just how manipulative they turned out to be. I’ve read a lot of books and I usually pretty good at figuring out the general plot, but Captive Prince completely blindsided me.
- The other side characters. Captive Prince isn’t one of those books that focuses solely on its main characters, with interchangeable secondary characters, instead they’re all fully fleshed out and each leaves a distinct impression on the reader (they’re not always good impressions).
- The plot. Or rather the lack of it, you see this first book is entirely character-driven with little to no plot apart from Damen’s plan to escape and it’s done So. Well. I knew very little of the plot when I went into the book (I figured I should read it before being entirely spoilt by tumblr), and this knowledge might have made me pause for a second, but I didn’t even realise it until the very end, when the series’ plot was revealed.
A note of warning: This book should be approached with an open mind and a strong stomach because it’s both graphic and violent, with threats of rape and dub-con/non-con elements. The book itself does not, in any way, condone this behaviour (in fact these depictions are given the gravity they deserve and none of it is glossed over), but it’s still in there. C. S. Pacat herself has a list of trigger warnings concerning the entire trilogy, but my advice would be not to be deterred by this.
Captive Prince is certainly one of my favourite books I’ve read this year and I would recommend it wholeheartedly to fanfiction readers, and anyone who likes a good political intrigue.