Damen is harboring a really big secret from the Prince that could get him killed. He needs to try to keep his secret and stay alive until he can escape and claim his throne.
The ugly: So I had stayed away from this series because I had heard that there was rape/pedophilia and torture. Yup. Yup. And yup. It’s all there and it IS hard to read but I didn’t feel like it was gratuitous or used for titillation. It was an unflinching look at slavery and the politics of slavery. If you have ever watched the TV series Spartucus and could handle that – well… this is similar.
The Ugly part 2: The slavery in Vere is awful and violent. But there was no sugarcoating of it. However, where Damon is from, Akielos, there is also slavery. But for some reason because his people *honor* the slaves with nice clothes, and food and don’t torture/beat/rape them (which I agree – is a very good thing!), he sees nothing wrong with it and is always looking back fondly on how nice and submissive his slaves were. Because they are trained to be that way! It just rubbed me the wrong way and made me think less of Damen at first.
I remember watching the racism episode of Chelsea Handler’s Netflix show, Chelsea Does, where the confederate re-enactor people were defending their ancestors treatment of slaves because….they paid good money and invested a lot of time in them so of course they never treated them badly. Grrrrr No. Just no. But the author does develop this aspect, and Damen’s views over the course of the series so I was happy to see what she did with that.
Characters and romance:
~ I wasn’t sure that I would buy into the romance of a slave and his owner but it was done so well and really isn’t about that dynamic at all. Nothing is as it seems in this scenario.
I loved Laurent! What a complicated character. Damen was strong and honorable but occasionally a naive doofus for not seeing what’s right in front of his face.
Between the two - they strike a perfect balance.
The sex scenes were surprisingly sweet, intimate, revealing and vulnerable rather than overly explicit.
I’m a total sucker for a sweeping romance with grand gestures and boy does this book have that in spades.
~ The various slaves were well developed and had different personalities and motivations for their actions. They dynamic between them was often hostile or back stabbing with few acts of kindness. It was, uncomfortable yet fascinating.
I binge read the series in three days. It’s one of those sweeping story arc’s with love, death, battles, betrayal, political intrigue and destiny. I was completely sucked in – even though I found some of the writing choppy and confusing at times. And while the ending was solid, it really could have used an epilogue.
I don’t think I loved it to the extent that others have (because I wasn’t as surprised by some reveals as other were maybe??) but it is a addictive series to get sucked into for a binge read. Epic romance and adventure - where the ultimate price is death or the ultimate prize is love. And you’re never quite sure which one it will be.