THE CAPTIVE PRINCE
C S PACAT
GENRES/ SUBJECTS: FANTASY, M/M EROTICA/ROMANCE (I GUESS?)
Trigger warnings: Where to start? Rape, implied rape, sexual assualt, slavery, violence, implied paedophilia.
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…
This is another book for #thereadingquest (I might have DNFed otherwise) that I had a difficult time with, but I think with this one it was maybe more to do with my expectations? The Captive Prince fandom is full of really passionate and dedicated fans (probably because it started online) and a quick Google search will show you how talented they are — the fanart is stunning — and this was what really sold me to try the book.
I did really like Damen, the Prince of Akielos who is now a slave in Vere. He was strong, brave and self-sacrificing. I loved that the struggles of the other Akielonian slaves in the palace were a constant concern for him and that he waited until he had secured their safety before trying for his own escape. Although we don’t see much outside of the palace, I liked the differences in the cultures of Vere and Akielos, and the hierarchies within the palace itself. The first part (two-thirds?) of the book, although full of this interesting world-building, has little other plot and was extremely hard going. A warning to potential readers — there’s a lot of brutality and sexual violence in this book, and I think maybe emotional/mental abuse? A lot. There are performance rapes, beatings, paedophilia and slavery. It’s a tough read.
Which brings me to my biggest problem.
The book is billed as a romance (although I don’t see much in this instalment, it’s fairly obvious where everything’s leading) and going in, I already knew Damen and Laurent are the central couple to the trilogy. Now, while at the very end Laurent showed a little more humanity, at his best he’s a horrible person. At his worst, he’s a violent, sadistic, rapist sociopath who has Damen lashed almost to death, sexually assaults him and watches violent rape performed as sport. I spent most of the book thinking, “Really, Damen? Really?” But apparently, none of this matters because pale skin and blonde hair is just Damen’s type and this is enough to constantly distract him. I just can’t see this a romance, I just can’t. In a way, I might have viewed the whole book differently (and enjoyed it more) if there was no romance, or at least if I didn’t know I was supposed to be shipping these two. I would have loved if the story ran — Damen sets free the slaves and escapes Vere in a blaze of fire and slaughter — sadly, that wasn’t to be.
I’m still on the fence about Captive Prince, although it grew on me around the 60-75% mark, I’m not sure that’s enough to justify reading it. I’m really not sure if I want to continue the series or not.