Friday, 10 June 2016

Captive Prince Trilogy by C.S. Pacat || #reviewfriday

I had been consumed by a reader’s block (meaning I couldn’t get myself to read anything even if I was locked away in a tower with nothing but books to occupy myself with) for about a year till this March. No book caught my interest; nothing seemed appealing enough to be even worth giving a try and the ones I did start, I left before barely making 10 pages into the book. That’s when I saw several accounts I follow on my various social media raving about this newly completed book series about two heirs to the thrones of two rival kingdoms falling in love. I was told it was full of violence and rape and sex and definitely not for the light-hearted. For the first time in a year, a book sparked my fancy. When I heard it had a hate to love trope as well, I was fully sold and bought the books the very next day on Amazon. Not only did I not regret the choice, I am also, currently, fully recovered from my reader’s block! 

Genre: Romance, Adventure, Historical Fantasy, Political Intrigue

                          Trigger Warnings: Slavery, Rape, Paedophilia, Torture

                 The first book in the trilogy, Captive Prince was published in 2013 and the final book, Kings Rising in 2016. I pity anyone who had to wait that long for the conclusion of the series because the first book and the second book, Prince’s Gambit, leave you with cliffhangers so intriguing you can’t get your hands on the final book fast enough. In fact, most of the plot twists and plot development happens in Kings Rising. 
               Captive Prince builds the foreground of the story. Damen, the rightful heir to the throne of the kingdom of Akielos, is shipped off to the rival kingdom of Vere as a pleasure slave to Laurent, the prince of Vere, when Damen’s bastard stepbrother Kastor seizes power of Akielos. Trapped among his enemies, Damen has no choice but to serve Laurent, to whom his identity is not revealed as it would surely mean instant death for him. Laurent is as Machiavellian and merciless as he is beautiful. And he has a very valid reason to be pitiless to Damen; he had killed Laurent’s older brother, whom he adored and worshipped, in a battle. So all Damen can do is remain in disguise until he can escape and reclaim his throne. But he gets more than he bargained for when he ends up having to fight not just his own battles(literally and figuratively), but help in Laurent’s too.  
                Prince’s Gambit is where the action really takes off and by King’s Rising, there are so many neck-breaking plot twists, we are left feeling exhausted in an exhilarating way. I don’t want to spoil anything but let me just say, by the time you finish the last book, your heart would have jumped into your throat a million times. 

                 There are many things about this series that I really loved. The contrast between the characters of Damen and Laurent were one. Damen is dark and buff; a war hero who is strong and honourable but trusting to a fault. His character gives off very warm vibes; soft and patient.  Now, Laurent on the other hand, is as cold and unforgiving as his ice blue eyes. He may look like a cherub, all blond and pretty, but he’s cunning and ruthless; a boy forced to grow up and fend for himself after he was left orphaned at a young age in the clutches of his treacherous uncle. It was fascinating to watch stiff and untrusting Laurent turn to putty in Damen’s hands after all the hate (it was probably mostly sexual tension) turned to love. Another thing I liked is the author’s normalizing portrayal of the queer characters. She created a world were homosexuality was not only accepted but also preferred (because it meant less unwanted pregnancies, but still). Pacat’s world is also very sex-positive, as anyone could have sex with anyone they wanted, anytime they wanted, even in public. There was a lot of rape and paedophilia resulting from that though, so it definitely isn’t an ideal world. In fact, all the injustice and corruption that is the fruit of monarchy was prevalent in the story; torture, capital punishments without fair trial and playing dirty for the attainment of power and position. The political intrigue in the story is one of the most gripping aspects. Power and the thirst for power makes people brutal and both Damen and Laurent are victims of this brutality bestowed upon them by none other than the people they trusted the most.
                      Now this is probably a boring thing to notice but as a Literature student I have to mention this. Pacat’s language is brilliant; it’s mesmerizing and poetic but precise and witty at the same time. "This was Vere, voluptuous and decadent, country of honeyed poison". “Laurent could inspire homicidal tendencies simply by breathing.” Honestly, I want this printed on a T-shirt with the names of my choice. Pacat’s torture scenes and sex scenes are explicit without being vile or disturbing.  She also handles the complicated plot with absolute ease and succeeds in getting the readers to think but makes it a pleasure read all the same

           So, all in all I would say Captive Prince is definitely worth a read if you are into well-written, plot-oriented M/M novels. But fair warning, this is not for the faint-hearted or the easily offended. The trigger warnings I mentioned are very much indicative of the theme of the story; there is rape, torture, slavery, paedophilia and everything associated with a liberal medieval society under powerful monarchies. Proceed with caution. Personally, I enjoyed the trilogy a lot and look forward to more works from this author. 


      Rating: 4/5 



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