The fantasy genre isn’t as popular in Australia as it is overseas, so hearing about Captive Prince by Australian author C.S Pacat was like a dream come true. Recommended by Sarah J Maas, I started reading the book and ended up finishing it in two days.
It’s that good. Captive Prince follows Damen, a former prince turned prisoner, who becomes a personal and pleasure slave to Laurent, a prince enemy – an enemy Damen should fear because he killed his brother during a war years ago…
Damen plans and struggles to escape, and has to endure and witness all debauchery the enemy’s society indulges in. His desire for freedom is forcibly shelved as a dangerous game of thrones manifests but so does a new desire for his prince…
The book has some of the usual fantasy tropes but there are twists and mindblowing details like heterosexuality being a taboo in Veres, the land where the story is set. Homosexuality is the norm.
There are dark scenes that involve rape and abusive treatment of slaves which shocked me. Not because it’s vivid, occurs throughout the book, and can be triggering, but male rape is not out of the ordinary and the reactions of the characters towards rape in general hits me. It reminds me of reality (complete with no concern for the victim and indulging the rapist). The residents of Vere are indifferent and would watch rape as a “performance”. I hope Damen burns that place down.
There’s a lot of telling rather than showing, but the book is still well-written. Much of the intensity or impact, the hook, comes from the characters. The character development is amazing and leads to Damen and Laurent becoming complex individuals. It’s hard to place Laurent. Is he a threat or ally or neither? But somehow I’m rooting for him.
Female characters are sort of non-existent. Those who are named are in the background or just mentioned. I hope the sequels have women in significant roles.
Overall, you’ll love Captive Prince if you’re into Game of Thrones and Gladiator but want better.