Book Review: Captive Prince by CS Pacat

22571663Captive Prince
Author: CS Pacat
Series: Captive Prince #1
Release Date: May 22, 2012
Get it Here: Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository

“This was Vere, voluptuous and decadent, country of honeyed poison”

Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the truthful 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…


While Captive Prince certainly presents an unforgettable setting despite the unassuming cover, the slow plot threatened to let boredom overtake me. Luckily, I was saved by the complex and in-depth characters, whom I couldn’t help but sympathize with and want to learn more of. As a romance, this book lacks greatly; as a fantasy, we are presented an opulent and lavish world that, although grotesque, you can’t stop reading about. The political intrigue is intricate and although slow to uncover, keeps you reading as you discover what in the world is actually going on.

To start off with, I had no clue that the world was going to be so depraved. I came in knowing it would be “dark,” but hot damn, I was cursing up a shitstorm while reading the actions of the people.

“This was Vere, voluptuous and decadent, country of honeyed poison.”

Owning slaves, or “pets,” is the custom and they mostly satisfy the sexual urges of their masters by performing in some way or another. It’s absolutely appalling to read about, but I guess you get used to it after, oh say three quarters of the book. At least that was the case for me. The narrator, Damen, tells the story of his capture in a third person limited point of view, starting from the night his father died and his half-brother assumed the throne of his country. From there, he is proclaimed death but in actuality he is presented to another kingdom, Vere, as a gift in the form of a slave. He’s given to the prince of Vere, Laurent, who at first absolutely abhors Damen (and his countrymen in general). The things that happen – oh boy, it gets pretty intense. The book features pretty brutal and degenerate actions, including but not limited to: rape, flogging, and ring fights.

“It wasn’t possible that something like this was going to happen – that this court was so depraved that a mercenary could rape a royal slave a scant distance from the gathered court.”

Um yes, it could and DID happen.

But once I got over the twisted world (which was certainly unique, I’ll give it that), the story did not have much to offer. Damen is trying to escape, but biding his time. Laurent is going against his uncle, the Regent during the time they’re at court, which is consisted of factions that support one or the other. Damen finds his loyalties tested at every turn, and all the while he just wants to make sure the other slaves from his country (that were gifted to the Vere court) are safe.

“And what did it mean, to be a prince, if he did not strive to protect those weaker than himself?”

As slow as the story was, the intense focus on characterization really draws a reader in. In the beginning we see a ruthless, spoiled prince in the form of Laurent but as Damen gets to know his master, we also see his hidden depths and layers. Damen himself also changes and grows as he gets embroiled in the political machinations of the Vere court. There are minor characters that are actually quite three-dimensional and leaves you curiouser and curiouser as to what their hidden motives are. Pacat’s writing is so simple and easy-to-navigate. The short sentences interspersed in Damen’s thoughts make it a quick read that keeps you going. That, along with the clear characterization, is what really stood out for me in the book.

Okay so I’m a little bit miffed by the lack of romance seen in this. When people say it’s a “slow-burn,” IT’S REALLY FREAKING SLOW. As this book is greatly advertised as a M/M fantasy, I was hoping to see more action (especially with that kind of setting). However, the hatred that Laurent and Damen feel for each other seep into the second half of the book and only towards the end do they really go from mistrust to something else. I mean, it makes those parts all the more valuable to read but GUYS. After stumbling upon all the glorious fanart from Twitter and Tumblr, I NEED MORE. So yeah, I was a bit disappointed because of that. I love slow burns, but holyyyy crappp it felt like nothing progressed throughout the middle.

“It was not only that he was navigating a foreign language. It was as though Laurent was an entirely other species of animal.”

I’m definitely continuing the trilogy! Hoping the second book will totally impress me.


15 thoughts on “Book Review: Captive Prince by CS Pacat

    1. Thanks so much Geraldine! ❀ I actually binge read the trilogy and ended up enjoying each successive book! The world never got explained much, but the characters totally kept me going haha. And the epic was pretty stellar. πŸ˜€

  1. Honestly, I think these books are fabulous! I have the third sitting beside my laptop — which I’m simultaneously dreading/looking forward to, haha. These books definitely aren’t for everyone, though. One of my issues was the lack of worldbuilding (I am a MASSIVE fan of that in fantasies) but for me, it all boiled down to the fact that this book was very very character driven. Not plot driven. So once I realized that, I could put my quibbles aside to enjoy it more.

    1. I totally get you Kara! I actually binge read the trilogy and enjoyed them more and more, hehe. πŸ˜€ You’re right though, it’s a TOTALLY character-driven book. World? Plot? *laughs* Who needs that when you have two hunky guys figuring out their feelings, amiright? *raises eyebrows*

  2. I have to agree with you, the plot and romance is so slow! Maybe even more so because I hear about this book so much on Twitter and Tumblr. I also thought the book would turn out differently than what I read. I hear book #2 has better romance and makes you crazy for book #3.

  3. Gosh.. everything about this makes me very uncomfortable! Do you feel like the strong theme of sexual violence is properly addressed? I don’t like the that the plot could be normalising sexual violence and coercion. Like, the fact that all the comments on your post seem to be about romance rather than all the bad shit you talked about concerns me?

    But then again I am probably being over sensitive about a book I haven’t even read. I’ve just picked up a few lately that seem to normalise and romanticise bad and abusive behaviour and it makes me so angry to read!

    1. Honestly Lydia, I don’t think the theme of sexual violence is addressed properly. That being said, I was highly uncomfortable reading the first two books. It was graphic and gruesome, and the reason why I think so many people “let it go” (in a way) is because it is written as part of the culture and traditions in the book.

      I don’t think you’re being over sensitive at all! I think it’s like an odd fetish the book community seems to have, because if I weren’t caught up in all the hype and just randomly stumbled upon the pages, I would be traumatized forever. I think what captivates readers in this one is the fact that anything could happen in fiction, so why not bondage, rape, and graphic sexual violence as part of a fantasy story? It sounds like a very weak argument, but think of it like a “guilty read” in a way. (At least I do. Sometimes I still can’t believe so many well-known authors endorse this trilogy.) Anyhow, it took me half the trilogy to get over the graphic world and only then was I able to enjoy the characterizations.

      1. Thank you for such a thoughtful response! It is a book community thing that makes me really uncomfortable. Sexual consent is already such an issue for so many people, I feel like the almost glorification of non-consensual sex in books is deeply problematic.

  4. What’s happening!? Is it the apocalypse/End of Days/Armageddon?! I only ask because *gulp* for the first time I actually disagree with you! AW,MAN! (don’t worry, I still wuv you) There are several reasons why there’s no way I’m going to be reading this book/series:(please know that I’m not meaning/trying to get up on a soapbox and I apologize if it covers off that way;I’m just sharing my opinions and i hope that’s ok ) πŸ™‚
    -I don’t mind slow burning romance but I detest a slow plot.If I get so bored that I start skimming, I’m gunna DNF that baby.
    -A story with nothing to offer…I don’t see the point in reading a book if I’m not getting anything out of it and/or it’s not teaching, opening my mind/touching my heart or just making my feel good when i read it.
    -I’m going to agree with commenter Lydia on this one and say that the main reason for not reading it is that I’ve also heard/read about the sexual abuse and violence being the start of their relationship and I don’t care if it’s YA or Adult, any book that makes that acceptable is not ok with me.It being m/m has nothing to do with it either; if I’m reading a book and the character even thinks about falling in love with their rapist/abuser, I’m not only putting that book down, I’m probably tossing it. (And I’ve never ever ever supported censorship or book banning and wouldn’t even for this book) but I can’t sit back and act like I’m OK with it, it literally gives me a sick feeling in my stomach.
    That said, I want to be sure you know that this doesn’t affect how I feel about you/your blog and I still totally respect you & your opinions. I hope that the 2nd book is better and that you end up really really enjoying it and getting the action you were looking for! πŸ˜‰

    1. Aww Sarah thank you for still wuvving me! ❀ And I totally respect your opinion too! DON'T WORRY, I COULD NEVER THINK ANYTHING BAD OF YOU.
      I can see that this book is definitely one to stay away from though, for you!

      I totally get what you're saying on all accounts. The only reason why I stayed was because so many of my good friends love it (I still can't believe it's endorsed by so many well-known authors, as shown in their tweets!), and they wanted me to continue it. But in the first two books, I found myself appalled at what was going on. I reallyyy had to get used to the culture and tradition that Pacat made up, because it was odd, graphic, and gruesome.

      But I think what attracts so many readers is a sort of "guilty read," if you know what I mean? The fact that this is fiction, in a fantasy land, and will REMAIN that way. (Because if this were a contemporary, I know I would not touch it with a 7-foot pole.) Hmm, that seems like a weird way of thinking of it. But that's the way I reasoned with myself when I found myself enjoying the next books. It was a battle between, "WTF AILA, THERE IS SOME INSANE STUFF GOING ON!" and "Yeah but isn't the writing just amazeballs and don't you just want to hug the characters with stuffed animals and never let them go?" :'D

      I actually binge read the trilogy and really liked the last book! It was way less violent and the heavy focus on the characters took away some of my discomfort for the world itself. Either way, I TOTALLY get where you are coming from. πŸ˜€ It's definitely not the Armageddon yet, omg. If everyone thought the same, no one would be thinking. πŸ˜‰

  5. WOAH that slow burn between the two guys sounds completely intense, I can kind of see why people would love that! The characters and hidden motives sound interesting and I’m glad that they take the time to develop the characters. It definitely does sound like the plot was slow and disturbing though. Great review Aila! I’m still unsure on whether to pick this series up!

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