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Captive Prince (The Captive Prince Trilogy) Paperback – April 7, 2015
"Agnes's Place" by Marit Larsen
First published in Norway, this is a lovely story about home and belonging and how one person can transform our world. | Learn more
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“You will be completely enthralled and on edge.”—USA Today
“Have you read Captive Prince? If you haven’t, what are you waiting for?”—HeroesandHeartbreakers.com
“The cumulative effect of reading them back to back is mind blowing.”—Dear Author
“Pacat’s powerful debut, a blend of intense erotica and political fantasy, is disturbing and intriguing in equal measure...The intricacy of the political entanglements gives depth to the novel’s erotic turmoil...Fans of Jacqueline Carey’s Kushiel series will eat this up with a spoon.”—Publishers Weekly
“Fans of Pacat’s internet-serial sensation will need no convincing of the merits of this series, but new readers should take note—this book lives up to every word of praise it has garnered. The lush setting, full of intricate historical detail, engaging decadence and ruthless scheming, will draw many, but it’s Pacat’s characters...who’ll surely keep readers captive. Their tenuous, fractious relationship is the heart and soul of this trilogy, and thankfully, readers will not have long to wait between installments in order to watch it unfold.”—RT Book Reviews
About the Author
- Publisher : Berkley; 1st edition (April 7, 2015)
- Language : English
- Paperback : 304 pages
- ISBN-10 : 0425274268
- ISBN-13 : 978-0425274262
- Item Weight : 8.3 ounces
- Dimensions : 5.17 x 0.8 x 8 inches
- Best Sellers Rank: #59,928 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)
- Customer Reviews:
Top reviews from the United States
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My biggest issue with the plot overall was that while the concept does sound interesting enough, the execution is the worst I've ever come across. Damen is a vague character at best and no matter what he goes through (an assault, an attempted assault, and another assault), his character never changes. Ever. He's assaulted one day by a servant to prepare him for the prince who owns him, nearly assaulted in a public "sport", and the next day he's all ready for the servant who assaulted him the first time to give him a massage without any worry.
On top of that, he meets and sort of befriends a slave from his home country who apparently had been held captive and groomed for his own use (the slave was sent to the rival country upon his supposed death). Yet when he sees this slave brutalized by a rival his only thoughts are that the slave was groomed for *him*, so *he* should be the only one using him. And that's meant to help display his supposed growth because hey- he spoke to him in the first place! Oh, and it is fine that Damen kept slaves, because they were too "weak willed" to know how to spend their time or live their lives, so they ~needed~ someone to own them, they are like children and helpless without a master. That isn't presented as a skewed world view, it's presented as absolutely correct and A-OK. Even to the person forced to be a slave and the one being brutalized.
Women in this series also fall under 1 of 2 categories: easy, or easy and pregnant.
Honestly the base, 1 sentence summary of this book sounds like a decent enough premise. It's the writing that is just aggressively awful. C.S. Pacat, I am willing to say, is a terrible writer without a drop of talent for storytelling. This first book was self-published and it shows with all the hallmarks any decent editor would have gotten rid of (pointed out above largely). This would not even pass in a junior high english class, let alone as an actual book.
Character descriptions are sketchy, the most bizarre and nonsensical metaphors possible are used (and then overused), and some action and more brutal aspects of the story are long and drawn out while others (anything from assaults on the main character to violence to even simply walking down a hallway) are dismissed with a vague half-sentence that leaves you confused and lost for several paragraphs before you realize that happened.
The icing on the top of the cake has to be just how atrocious the world building is. You have no sense for these nations, what their rivalry stems from, what relations are now, the landscape of the political climate, or even the climate for that matter. It is excruciatingly vague.
TL;DR: This book isn't even worth a fun hate-read to make fun of it. I've read through to book 2 (which did have an editor) and it's almost entirely unreadable as well. The writing is the worst I have ever seen, the author is a hack, and the books seem to not only encourage but laud the benevolent and kind masters who help their poor slaves live a life rather than, I don't know, bump into windows all day like human flies.
Prince Damianos (Damen) loses everything in an instant when his brother betrays him and seizes the throne. To demean him further, he is gifted to the prince of an enemy nation with the intention that he be used as a pleasure slave. Prince Laurent is cruel and cunning and despises Prince Damianos more than anyone, so Damen is forced to keep his identity a secret while navigating the politics and depravity of court while searching for a way to escape.
This book is marketed as a romance. For those wondering, this first book does not contain romantic scenes but rather builds the foundation for these two characters to grow closer in further books. However, it was still immensely entertaining. The worldbuilding felt natural, important details were revealed as needed rather than an info dump at the beginning detailing the history of the world. The characters were complex and fun to read, particularly Lawrance whose motives are often too difficult to decipher until it is too late.
Now, this next part is important to address so bear with me.
People who are particularly sensitive to topics such as rape, pedophilia, and slavery will likely not enjoy this book. That is in no way meant to shame anyone - we all have topics we cannot read about and it is important to know your limits.
One of the fictional cultures represented here does partake regularly in these acts though they are seen as disgusting through the eyes of the protagonist, which in itself is interesting because he actually does view slavery in a positive light. It is easy to understand why half the reviews hate this book while the other half praise it as compelling romance (I myself was thinking, for most of the book, that the romance would end up being some form of Stockholm syndrome). Rather than pass judgment on the author, I will say that the reading experience is much like viewing a culture with morals and traditions very much unlike our own. You may not like it, it may revolt you, but these are things that happen in the world (this fictional world and occasionally in our world) and pretending they do not exist does not make them go away.
Overall, I really enjoyed Captive Prince and I can't wait to get my hands on the next one to see what happens next.
Top reviews from other countries
One, Damen, tall and strong, prone to outbursts of emotion, is betrayed by his half brother and forced into slavery. His is given as a peace gift to an enemy nation. A place where to reveal his true identity would mean certain death.
The other, Laurent, cold, arrogant, cruel and beautiful, receives the unwanted gift of an untrained pleasure slave from the nation he loaths, the nation that killed his father and brother, The nation he wants to destroy.
There was a lot I liked about this book, the charecters are complex and well drawn, it is well written. There is a light touch with the world building, details of the two nations are somewhat sketchy - we get a glimpse of the political intriuge in both, and loads on info on their slightly different attitudes to sex and slavery, but little else. The first half of the book is mostly sex and violence, about 20% sex 80% violence, some of it quite graphic and shocking, most of it very well written. The second half of the book is more plot driven, I have to admit that I did not totally understand what was going on for some of it. There were a few 'and suddenly he understood' moments where I was not even sure how or what had just happened. But that's fine - I can cope with that.
My main issue with this book was that it did not feel like a complete story. It is a firly short books and the main charecters had barely begun to make an impact on each other. None of the story arcs seemed in anyway resolved, this seems like a beginning only. I am aware that this is the first section of a trilogy and I am sure the story will be teased out in future books, but this felt like an arbitory and unsatifying ending rather than a natural break in the story. In my opinion evey book in a series should be able to stand up by itself, especially the first. I did wonder whether the trilogy format was just an effort to spin out the story into more books, and thus charge us more for the privilage (and each of these books is a bit more expensive that you would usually expect for kindle).
I am fully aware that this is just my opinion. This book came to me well hyped by many people whose opinon on these matters I admire. I am sure many people will disagree with me - please feel free to comment below - I love a good discussion.
The way it tries to dress up constant abuse and racism inflicted on the main character as a stepping stone for the eventual romance by the end of the novel, is nothing short of disgusting. There are scenes where Damen (the POC protagonist) is repeatedly whipped, or put in chains or is graphically raped by other characters, all at the behest of Laurent, his love interest. I couldn't believe that this treatment would eventually result in a romance between the two characters, but low and behold, it some how does and it's just as bad as you can imagine. I was hoping that because the author herself is LGBT, it might treat the characters with some more depth and respect, usually not seen in other gay fiction written by straight people, but it's equally bad. The way she writes gay men is... it leaves me at a loss for words. All I can say is that if the pairing seen here was straight, and Laurent was abusing a captive 'princess', the uproar from critics would be astounding. But because it's two gay men, the treatment of Damen some how is okay? And people can actually praise it? I'm genuinely shocked.
The writing is incredibly hard to navigate also, it has been adapted from what I think is a livejournal and there's been little effort to try to help the formatting of the writing flow in a book format. Writing online fiction is very different to book fiction, online fiction can have a lot of heavy information dumps and exposition because usually, they start by just establishing everything and then get right into the character actions and actual plot. That, doesn't work too well with a book, it usually kills the pacing. This is something that can be seen in many other WattPad publications or even 50 Shades of Grey. It's a common problem and it's very apparent in this series also. At the start of each book is a handy character list and description, which you will have to CONSTANTLY backtrack to and attempt to navigate as it's so confusing between each scene which characters are talking and who they are and why what they're saying is important. There are just chunks of description and exposition dumped into the pages, and the 'sex' (or more aptly described as rape) scenes are poorly written and just embarrassing. The dialogue as well is pretty bad. If I had ONE nice thing to say about this novel is that the political intrigue is serviceable by the second and third book. However, I am not of the belief that you should be forced to endure something terrible in order to just wait for it to get better. Please, if you have any respect for yourself, do not bother buying this book or any others written by this author.
If you want a good portrayal of LGBT characters with this sort of epic fantasy setting with political intrigue, I would suggest perhaps Madeline Miller's A Song Of Achilles. It's better written, the gay characters are treated with respect and dignity and the action and dialogue is genuinely compelling.
In Depth: This series is something I'd never heard off but suddenly several glowing reviews and five star ratings appeared on my dash and I knew I had to check it out. I'm really really glad I did, so thank you to all those people who wrote those reviews and rated it five stars.
The Story: I loved everything about this story, it was so beautifully told and full of tension and twists and so much fun. The story itself follows Damen who has been forced into slavery by his half-brother, and compelled to serve the crown prince of his enemies (who particularly hate him as he killed their previouscrown prince (and his new masters older brother) in battle previously). This results in some pretty epic moments of tension as Damen cannot reveal who he is.
The Characters: I felt this book demonstrates character development at it's finest. Laurent who is introduced as a villainous character who becomes someone whom sympathy is felt for. Damen who shows sacrifice on behalf of his fellow countrymen and loyalty towards Laurent (despite his hatred of him). And so many more examples. I loved this book and it's treatment of it's characters.
The Relationship: This is fundamentally a story about warring nations and attempts to gain power. A political fantasy with some hints of romance, there is something wonderful about reading this. I loved the development from hatred into trust and possibly something more between Laurent and Damen, I liked the fact it was not about instantly falling into love or even lust. There is something rewarding about watching two people start to trust one another rather than having it as a guarantee.
My Thoughts: I am glad I read this book, honestly it's a fantastically written fantasy which hints of romance and some wonderfully intriguing plot lines. Personally I cannot wait to get to the second volume and I would highly recommend this book to anyone looking for a different fantasy romance that is a relatively (compared to some) easy read.
This is readable. The plot is easy to follow (and quite intriguing) and the writing style flows, but ... The only way I can explain this is that it feels like someone's Nano project -maybe one draft later. It's all a bit unedited in places and whilst the description was lush in some parts and there was a reasonably good atmosphere, it all felt basic and predictable, too.
The good points about the book were, as I previously said, the plot and also the pacing. There's intrigue and machinations going on in Vere, which is foreshadowed by the usurping of Damen's throne by his evil half brother. This did, though, beg the question why he didn't just kill Damen, as he's already told everyone he's dead? If you get off on seeing your brother and rightful heir humiliated, which is why you turn him into a slave, wouldn't you wish to be around to see it? I'm wondering if I missed something - did Jokaste ask for him to be spared? Is Kastor really a nice guy and has done this as a means of saving his bro? (No, I'm pretty sure he hasn't.)
There were one or two surprises along the way, and I found myself liking one or two characters who sadly weren't in the book very much, but I am hoping they'll appear in the next ones.
There was too much description about looks. I swear if I was reminded that Laurent had blond/yellow/pale hair and blue eyes again, and they were the exact characteristics that Damen was drawn to, any more, I would have thrown the book across the room. As I'm reading on a kindle, that would have been expensive.
He's good looking. He's fair skinned. He has blue eyes. You like that. WE GET IT!
I also found myself not bothered about the protag much. I mean, he's not evil. He fights for what's right and good and he's obviously buff and hot so I should be swooning (He's also well-endowed and up for it with both men and women) but he was 'too good'. He was Gary Stu leaving Laurent to be some vengeful Mary-Sue with a Tragic Background.
This all sounds horribly negative, and I know that many many people have enjoyed the book and series. It was recommended to me by at least four people, and I can see why it's captured their imaginations because the relationships in the book are hard to find in 99% of published literature, and by god it's great to not have more cis het romance screaming through the pages, but at the same time, I'm not scurrying to read the others. I probably will at some stage (holiday reading perhaps) but for now I'm going to find something else.
I've recently read the first three Raven Cycle books - now they gripped me, but this doesn't.