Captive Prince

C. S. Pacat

Captive Prince
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Captive Prince

C. S. Pacat

Book 1 of the Captive Prince trilogy

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

Review

The first installment of the Captive Prince trilogy by Melbourne author C.S. Pacat is likely to take you by surprise. Before reading it I’d heard the premise –medieval-style fantasy with gay princes. Enough said, sign me up! What Pacat is doing here is intriguing, clever, knowing, and quite a lot of fun.

I began this book eagerly anticipating some hypermasculinity and queer romance. I found instead brutality, rape, and dynamics of absolute power and enforced submission. It’s detailed and direct, replacing the medieval battlefield with the bedchamber. I wasn’t sure what to make of it: I was shocked and uncomfortable, yet the characters were engaging, the narrative exciting, and the prose seamless. I wasn’t about to stop reading.

The plot centres on Damen, Prince of Akielos, who is double-crossed by his brother after the death of their father. Damen has been given as an anonymous sex slave to his mortal enemy, the Crown Prince of Vere, Laurent, and must pray that he isn’t recognised as the man who killed Laurent’s brother in battle many years earlier. For Damen – wrongfully imprisoned, bound and tethered by chains – Vere is a depraved kingdom where slaves are abused, kept as sexual ‘pets’, and forced to fight to the ‘little-death’ in the arena for sport. Damen does not take kindly to his new, inverted position, but bides his time until he can escape. In the meantime, he develops a tense and unlikely affinity with the calculating, mysterious, shockingly beautiful but untouchable Laurent.

Any novel that’s referencing genre and has explicitly queer content will always have a number of things going on at once. Pacat has created a simple, homonormative, masculine world. It is, to some extent, erotica for women, but more than that I read Captive Prince as an exploration of men’s desire. The Captive Prince trilogy promises to be refreshingly queer and unique in its approach to this action-packed and sexy genre, and I can’t wait to read the next two books.


Amy Vuleta is the Shop Manager at Readings St Kilda.

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