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Captive Prince is the opening book of the Captive Prince trilogy. It is the welcome, yet roguishly brutal ‘hello’ from within the castle in Vere. The reader is held captive by the beautifully crafted scenes and the witty, punchy or amusing dialogue that is veiled with threat, promise or something a little more sinister. The reader is thrust into the world of Vere slavery and what it means to be a slave not just within Vere, but also Akielos and the other realms of this fantasy land.
It’s a look at political, familial and royal tactics and the reader is exposed to layer upon layer of knotted moves and counter moves by each of the players. It’s complex and yet strangely simple to understand. Pacat insidiously slips in tidbits of information that appear benign at first glance but upon further study or some other moving piece become as sharp as the pointy end of a sword.
If you love Arthurian tales, historical accounts that involve deceit and battles for the thrones set in eras like the Tudors and even those before them, then this story is certainly right up your alley.
When you add to it, the gritty and, in parts, almost comical distaste for bastardry of the Veretian court, you end up with a rather barbaric society; One that mingles with the riches and glamour of the heights of royal court life. A rather interesting dichotomy.
The writing was engaging, period suitable and flawless in terms of editing and grammatical issues. Another huge plus in my books.
So when you add to the great story and the brilliant writing some complex, detailed and realistic characters… well you’ve hooked me. Completely.
I adored Damon’s complex reactions to slavery, the wicked contrasting feelings he had. I felt sympathy for him, hate for his enemies, love for his few trusted friends and surprise at some of the situations he found himself in.
Laurent was one of the best bad guys I’ve read about in a very long time. He’s got the innocent and beautiful looks of a young man, sweet and innocent, yet the mean streak of the worst kind. He’s intelligent, cunning and cruel. The best bad guys are the ones we love to hate.
This is sort of how I pictured Laurent, but softer, and more innocent looking except for when he turns those icy blue eyes upon you with scorn.
Some have said that they found Erasmus too sweet and submissive… well I for one am glad he was as he was. The book needed that sweet, submissive side. It needed a softness about it that Damon and the other hardened characters couldn’t give. Erasmus was probably my favourite character because of this. He provides a delicious sweetness about him that squishes your heart and ensures an emotional reaction to the scenes he’s in.
Strong LGBT themes run throughout the books, but there is only a couple of instances of explicit sexual behaviour. I feel this book would still be suitable for most readers, even those with sensitivities around M/M and F/F couplings. Where some readers might be lost is in the barbaric torture of some of the slaves. Whipping and branding among them, though they are not explicit in detail, there's plenty to keep the reader immersed in the scenes.
I am most interested to see how things progress with Damon, Laurent and the crew. I will be reading book 2.
**Note: I recieved an electronic copy of this book through Netgalley**