Friday, May 8, 2015

Captive Prince (Captive Prince Volume 1)

Posted by A Drop of Romeo at 2:00 PM
Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat

Age: Adult
Category: Fantasy; LGBTQIA+
Rating: 5 stars

Rosie Thinks: I like to think of this series as one of the greats of the m/m genre. Look at any m/m list on Goodreads and this series will be floating somewhere near the top - and deservedly so. I first read this when C.S. Pacat had the first two volumes free online, and I raced through them. And now she's scored herself a deal with Penguin Australia for her books to be published all over the world! Words can't express how excited I get when online authors achieve their dreams of being published, and it seems to be even rarer for an m/m author to get there! Anyway, I'm super excited to share this novel with all of you just as it's being released by Penguin.

Damianos is Crown Prince of Akielos, rightful heir to the throne until he is betrayed by his brother. He loses everything, including his identity, and is given as a slave to Laurent, Crown Prince of Vere - once an enemy nation, now a cautious ally. Laurent is cruel, manipulative and beautiful - the perfect embodiment of his country - and he is more than happy to take out his hate of Akielos on his new slave. Damen is thrown into the middle of a subtle yet violent power struggle between Laurent and his uncle, the Regent, and wants nothing more than to escape back to his own country and keep his identity a secret. But, of course, things are never quite what they seem in Vere, and C.S. Pacat weaves an intricate tale of plots within plots within plots, so you're never quite sure what is going to happen, or even what is really going on!

Captive Prince contains all those fantastic elements that I look for in a story: complex characters, an engaging world, action, and a plot that keeps me guessing. It's told solely in the perspective of Damen, so the reader is left almost completely in the dark about everything that is going on. Now that I've read it a second time, I can pick up on some of the very subtle hints that are dropped, but I can't stress this enough - nothing is what it seems! The re-read just made me realise, even more, how fantastic C.S. Pacat's writing and plotting is.

Honesty time: the first time I read this, I was a bit put off by the beginning. There are parts at the beginning that are quite unpalatable and dark, but I urge you to continue on if you feel this way. Although this technically is a slave story, it really isn't about that. It focuses more on political machinations and two countries a hairs-breadth away from war, plus the struggles of Damen and our fascinating antihero, Laurent. Laurent is truly an enigma, and I say that after reading the first two books in this series twice. He is such a delightfully complex character, and one of my favourite examples of truly genius characterisation. You will start off feeling equal parts intrigue and hate towards him, and he's not an easy character to get to know. By the end of the first book, many questions are answered but that's just made even more questions!

The world is also a phenomenal low fantasy world. There's no magic involved, and Pacat hasn't borrowed from that same medieval world that every second fantasy book is based in. There are elements of France in Vere, and Ancient Rome in Akielos, but Pacat has developed each society into distinct cultures. We only really see Vere in this book, and what I've seen is incredible. It is a culture that is based on debauchery, wealth, beauty and Machiavellian politics hidden beneath it all.

I can't recommend this book enough. Not only is Pacat an incredible writer, she's a truly lovely person and I can only see these books growing in popularity. So I urge every m/m fan to give it a chance, you won't be disappointed!


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