Friday, September 16, 2016

Series Review: Captive Prince Trilogy by C.S. Pacat

Title: Captive Prince Trilogy 
Author: C.S. Pacat
Publication Date: 2012 - 2016
Publisher: Berkley
Pages: 1045
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Captive Prince:

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...

Prince's Gambit:

With their countries on the brink of war, Damen and his new master, Prince Laurent, must exchange the intrigues of the palace for the sweeping might of the battlefield as they travel to the border to avert a lethal plot.

Forced to hide his identity, Damen finds himself increasingly drawn to the dangerous, charismatic Laurent. But as the fledgling trust between the two men deepens, the truth of secrets from both their pasts is poised to deal them the crowning death blow...

King's Rising:

Damianos of Akielos has returned.

His identity now revealed, Damen must face his master Prince Laurent as Damianos of Akielos, the man Laurent has sworn to kill.

On the brink of a momentous battle, the future of both their countries hangs in the balance. In the south, Kastor’s forces are massing. In the north, the Regent’s armies are mobilising for war. Damen’s only hope of reclaiming his throne is to fight together with Laurent against their usurpers.

Forced into an uneasy alliance the two princes journey deep into Akielos, where they face their most dangerous opposition yet. But even if the fragile trust they have built survives the revelation of Damen’s identity—can it stand against the Regents final, deadly play for the throne?

I picked up Captive Prince after seeing it reviewed on several blogs pretty much back to back. I have read a few LGBT romances in the past and am reading more diverse books, so when I saw that this series was listed as fantasy, I knew I had to give it a try!

This story begins when Damen, prince of Akielos, is forced from his home and into slavery. Even worse, he is a slave to an enemy prince, Laurent of Vere. Because Damen is intent on getting back to Akielos to defeat his brother and reclaim his throne, he must keep his identity hidden from his Laurent at all cost or risk death. Obviously I felt sympathy for Damen and really disliked Laurent for quite awhile because what else could I possibly feel? Laurent did grow on me throughout the series, but he always came off as cold, even once the two were (kind of?) together.

I'll be honest... I expected romance. Mostly because this series is listed as Fantasy/Romance on Goodreads and I tend to trust that site. But this isn't romance. At least not for a long, long time. I waited. I was 75% through the second book before I finally found the romance. If you're looking a three book long fantasy romance, you are going to be sorely disappointed. The first book is mostly about Laurent being terrible to Damen and taking all of his issues with Akielos out on him. The second book is mostly about them hating each other while still having to depend on each other to survive their enemies. It wasn't until the final book that I really started to enjoy it.

Although I was extremely irritated by the lack of romance in the first 1.75 books of this series, there were other things that I did like. I was certainly kept guessing, which is something I love in a series! There were several twists that left me totally shocked. Of course there were amazing battles and many times I wasn't sure who would live or die, so that was exciting. There were definitely times when the story lagged and the angst was sometimes ridiculous between Damen and Laurent, but again, I really started to enjoy it towards the end. I also loved the world building and really appreciated that the last book in the series came with a map so I could figure out what was going on! It definitely felt like a fantasy world based on Ancient Greece or Rome, both of which I love.

One of my major issues with all three books is their endings. This really feels like one big book just split into three random parts. The author likes to end her books very abruptly and even the last book in the series seemed to end in the middle of the action, which I didn't like. I prefer a little more resolution when I've spent over a thousand pages invested in a story.

For me this series started off really shaky and slowly got better as it went. By the end I was really enjoying it, but that doesn't discount the issues I had with the first two books. I went into this series expecting an epic fantasy romance told in three parts and spent a lot of the experience a little confused and irritated. As a whole I still enjoyed the series and I would recommend it for someone looking for an LGBT fantasy series, especially since there aren't many of those out there.