For What It's Worth

Monday, April 11, 2016

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

Captive Prince (Captive Prince, #1)Prince's Gambit  (Captive Prince, #2)17158532


The basics: Damen is a prince from Akielos – his brother seizes control after their father dies, making him King, and sends Damen to their rival kingdom’s manipulative Prince Laurent as a bed slave.

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.

The story:

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.

27 comments:

  1. Those parts still scare me so dunno

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    1. I put off reading this for a long time because I can't handle reading that stuff. She doesn't hold back but it's not overly descriptive either and she develops that characters in a way so that there's more to them. It's really well done.

      You do get squeamish and uncomfortable but it's readable and doesn't over power the story.

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  2. I loved how Damen was so quick to judge the other side and how he made life in Akielos so perfect. The slaves WANT to be there. I hope we expand on that in future books. Laurent was so obnoxious in the first book but I completely understand where it's coming from. Can't wait to see him grow!

    I'm sending husband to pick up Prince's Gambit today, I can't wait!

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    1. I am here for you...the ride is about to get bumpy!

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    2. I just finished the prince's gambit. That ending.

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  3. You know I have a hard time with the subject matter but it is also my favorite period (from a study perspective) of US History. There was so much violent and rapid change between 1820 and 1950 that is crazy to even think about. The truth is that was the thinking so it would be hard not to write him that way. Even the "best" slave owners felt entitlement and dignified in their approach. I will put this on my to try list though because it sounds fascinating.

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    1. Oh definitely. It was interesting to read since he had slaves and didn't think anything of it until he became one. Then justified it by saying but I'm a better slave owner. And if you compare the way they treated slaves in each area - I mean he did treat them well. There was no rape/abuse/torture. They received gifts and and were considered high in their social structure. But yeah...still a slave without choice.

      What I loved is how they author explored all that. The differences and especially how the slaves themselves viewed their own circumstances instead of just showing the owners perspective. It was really well done.

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  4. I'm still in book 1... yes, that stupid dude in that Chelsea episode is such an idiot! In fact, that town is idiotic! Like Yeah we have a black woman in our church and everybody loves her so we're not racist. Tsk. Idiots!

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  5. I know quite a few who just loved these and seriously raved. I've not had the urge to read them though. Maybe one day.

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    1. I never cared to until a friend of mine (Amber from Du Livre blog) read it and liked it. We have very similar tastes and it isn't something she would have atonally read either. It's pretty addictive once you start lol

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  6. What I love is that it brought out an issue of slavery that is so prevalent but often not talked about. Even though I would be pissed by it, at least it was out in the open. Hm... know this would upset me but it might be a good read for me.

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    1. I think because she confronted it/made you think about it and didn't use it for titillation I was ok with it.

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  7. Wow, binge reading in days, very impressive. Can't wait to look into more

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    1. It was fun to binge read again! It's been so long.

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  8. I can tell you had a fun time binging thees books! I just got done binging a NA series and IT WAS SO WORTH IT EVEN THOUGH I STILL GOT NOTHING DONE.. But anyway, I love the covers and the fact that you were able to read all of these books back to back like that super quick is epic and impressive! <3

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    1. I have to find another series to do that with because it was so much fun to binge read again!

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  9. I've heard this amazing but I'm not sure I could get past some of the harsher scenes! Great review and I'm glad for your insight

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    1. It was difficult to read but it wasn't so descriptive that you couldn't get through it.

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  10. Okay, you lost me at rape/pedophilia/torture/slavery. I just can't. But glad you filled me in so I feel more informed about these...
    Jen @ YA Romantics

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    1. Yeah it's tough subject matter and I honestly thought I wouldn't be able to read it but she did a good job with it. It wasn't overly graphic and the victims were given agency and developed well.

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  11. I feel the same way about those difficult themes that you mentioned. And yet, for the life of me, I can't seem to want to stop WANTING these books. I really want to read them. I'm glad you gave them a chance.

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    1. Everyone has raved about them but it wasn't my thing. I started reading the first one fully intending to not finish lol but it wasn't what I thought it would be.

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  12. Ah yes, I've been hearing a lot of buzz about this one over the past few weeks... I guess it was just surface buzz because I had no idea about the rape and torture and pedophilia and slavery. Umm. I think that would be hard for me. Though I think I would appreciate the fact that the MC comes around on his views on slavery eventually. Anyways, I'm sure I will succumb to the hype and my curiosity for this trilogy eventually despite serious themes and I do think I would like it overall too. It's def exciting that you consumed this in three days!! Great thoughtful review.

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    1. I heard about it last year but didn't have any desire to read it because of the content but it was really good the way she wrote it.

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  13. I can handle the darker context if it makes sense to the story and it sounds like it does. Glad to see that the romance felt genuine. I am going to add this trilogy to my wishlist.

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    1. It really does and as harsh as it is it isn't overly descriptive.

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