KiraKira Treasure Box

Random Readings: Captive Prince Trilogy

These books have ruined me...

Though this post is generally clean, this trilogy is very explicit, with rape scenes and plenty of crude language. I wouldn't want anybody with an aversion to these topics unknowingly reading this review or the books, so I'm throwing in this warning just in case.

I don't know how I'm still alive after this trilogy. I'm pretty sure it took my soul...

If you follow me on tumblr you might have noticed the sudden spike in gay fanarts I have been reblogging, which I assume stuck out like a fluorescent sign in the dark because I don't read yaoi/BL. If you were really paying attention, you'll also know all that shit-posting had to do with a single series: Captive Prince. How to explain how I fell into this inferno? Well, a dear friend of mine had repeatedly told me about the grandeur of this series, that life on Earth wasn't complete until you read Captive Prince, but the series held little appeal to me. I also have to point out this friend is a hardcore fujoshi, and after seeing her react similarly to many other mangas in this way before I assumed she was just being her hyper fujoshi self, and as I never really cared for yaoi/BL, I didn't pay much attention to her comments.
A FEW WEEKS AGO, HOWEVER. I decided I was in the mood to read something similar to The Winner's Trilogy (the series I had only just finished reading) — a fictional historical setting with war between kingdoms, angst and (perhaps) a little bit of romance sprinkled over the top. And I'm not quite sure how, but Captive Prince made it's way onto my Good Reads screen (I'm pretty sure it was waiting for the perfect moment to pounce on me). I read the summary, and thought, "oh what the hell, let's give it a go."

Hell indeed.

Captive Prince Trilogy

Adult Literature
AUTHOR: C.S. Pacat
GENRES: Romance; War; Historical Fantasy; Slavery; LGBT+; M-M Romance
TOPIC HIT? I don't know what I was expecting from this trilogy but YES.๐Ÿ‘

As always, when I talk about trilogies, I'll be giving my overall impressions on the books followed by a short spoiler talk for the naughties who want to either spoil themselves or have already read the books!
Betrayed by his half-brother Kastor, Prince Damianos, rightful rightful heir to the throne of Akielos, is sent to the an enemy nation as a slave. Damen must swallow his pride and keep his identity secret, less he wishes to be ruthlessly murdered by his new master, the beautiful, cruel and manipulative Prince of Vere, Laurent. Yet nothing is as it seems in court, and there's more to Laurent than meets the eye... If Damen has any hope of returning to his kingdom and becoming king, he must work together with Laurent to save both their nations.

I enjoyed Captive Prince like I enjoy anything with a high content of sugar. That is to say, too much. You could probably publish a book with all the times I've said this, but I just. can't. handle. hate. to. love. romances. They are my biggest weakness, and I will someday go to hell for it but I WILL FALL WITH GRACE.

When I picked up these books, I thought that, if I was lucky, I'd walk out with a satisfying romance that wasn't too repulsively fetishised to put me off. Maybe, if the planets aligned, I'd also get to enjoy a good, bloody sword fight.
How wrong I was. This trilogy gave me so much more than just that, and it proved to be far more complexly thought out. Setting the incredibly captivating romance aside ―which, by the way, is a far cry from the shallow insta-love I imagined I'd be getting―, where do I even begin to praise everything else in these books? C.S. Pacat's world building is outstanding and incredibly engaging. Both the kingdoms of Akielos and Vere are carefully crafted and thought out, and it's evident how much care she's put into their traditions and culture. I loved seeing the contrasts between their ways of life through Damen's eyes, but my favourite part of the Captive Prince universe was that sexuality isn't a concept here. In Vere, taking in lovers of your same sex or doing the opposite was an idea linked to social class, and in both kingdoms it overall boiled down to a question of preference. There was no right or wrong ― just likes and dislikes. (เน‘•̀ใ…‚•́)ูˆ✧
And it wasn't just that the ground the characters stood on was solid ― the story itself was a masterfully built tower, with political back-stabs, dirty dealings, bloody betrayals and international conspirations. By the time I finished the second book (which, incidentally, is my favourite of the three), my blood was pumping so intensely at the threat of war that I realised I would've enjoyed the shit out of these books even if the romance had been entirely dropped from them. Everything in them is so much larger than life, so legendary and heroic, that it was hard to contain the fangirl in me that squeals at exciting historical war epics.  The series isn't just about the blooming romance ― it's about two princes kept away from thrones that are rightfully theirs, fighting to straighten their kingdoms and defeat those that wish otherwise.
The trilogy does become increasingly centred around the romance as it progresses, but by the time this happened I was so absorbed into the story and so sold off on the relationship between Laurent and Damen that it felt like a natural progression. And bro, who am I to reject a good, character-building, sexy romance? (I was practically licking the breadcrumbs off my plate here, I wanted everything.)
However, I noticed a few things that other readers might have issues with. There are two rape scenes in book one ― one involving nameless characters, and another involving Damen. I've heard people accuse this second scene with Damen of fetishising rape? I personally didn't see it like that; I found that the scene was purposely written in a way that infuriates the reader, and was not, in any way, a turn on.
The second issue I think some people might have with the trilogy is that though the romance is healthy and progresses naturally, its homosexual nature did feel a bit fetishised. Maybe this is just me being a newb to gay literature, but as someone fluent in Japanese I couldn't help but notice how some of the scenes flowed too naturally in my head with the Japanese subtext I always have working in the background. I thought it was just me and my creepy habit of translating stuff into different languages whilst I read imagining things, but then I read in the acknowledgements that the author wrote the books whilst she lived in Tokyo, and I noticed after reading through her twitter that she probably speaks a good deal of Japanese, so I suspect there might be some yaoi influence going on here? Maybe I'm just imagining things, but the point is: it does have a tiiiny bit of fetish. 

Spoiler Talk

Spoilers for all three books (duh!)
Click to view/hide spoiler!
Where do I begin? Gosh, I loved this trilogy to bits. The first book was pretty uneventful in comparison to the second and third books, but if anything I loved how defiant Damen was and how ever so very slowly his and Laruent's fates get tangled together.
Book two though? Book two ran me over like a storm. Everything was so batshit crazy. It wasn't even that the plot-twists were clever ― it wasn't like a Detective Conan episode where all the clues are on screen and the author is showing us how very gifted they are at writing mysteries. It was just that I hadn't even registered the possibility of a plot-twist, that it was so well hidden and thrust upon me unexpectedly that it made me reel. That's what I call good writing. I had in no way foreseen that Aimeric was the spy amongst them, and even the fact that Laurent was really in league with Akielos ran me over like a lorry at light speed. Heck, you should've seen my face when in Kings Rising Guion "betrays" them and doesn't testify against the Regent, and then Laurent steps up all "lol but he's not actually the one I brought to testify, I brought his wife."

I was so in love with how cunning and smart Laurent was; I was deeply impressed with how brilliantly his character had been crafted, because it didn't feel like he was play-pretend clever. Him and Damen had great chemistry, and I swear my soul left my body when they finally slept together at the end of Prince's Gambit. (゜▼゜*)
The only thing that I saw coming was the fact that Laurent already knew that Damen was Damianos of Akielos, but that was only because I couldn't see their romance ending well unless Laurent had already known from the start who he was.
My only disappointment was that Damen didn't actually get to kill the Regent in the end. I really wanted this sick fuck to have his head bashed in, and I was lusting for a bloody scene where he got what he deserved. I was boiling with rage when the Regent revealed that he had sexually abused Laurent (pretty sure that was the in-between the lines message, and the reason why Laurent was so cold towards the idea of sex), and I wanted him to die a painful death (in my head, he certainly did.) Kastor's death was a sorry replacement for that; I know he's the main reason why all of this happened, but seeing as he was only there for the last 10% of the series I can't say his presence was too overwhelming. It would've been much more satisfying to see the Regent burn at the stake. (♯▼็šฟ▼)



(Yas, I am now rating my RR posts)

Guys, I can't stress how much I enjoyed this trilogy. Seriously, give it a go. I keep trying to tell myself that this trilogy is imperfect, that it has its flaws, but it's not getting me anywhere... I just can't get rid of my obsession with it. I was worried about picking it up because a few reviews had pointed out it "wasn't for everybody." I had instantly assumed they were talking about the gay romance (I was worried it would be too hardcore; I've heard of very disturbing yaois from my fujoshi friends...) but really it's so soft and perfect that, if anything, I'd say it's the gore and the crude language in the books in general that might put people off.

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Posted on: 12/03/2017

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  1. When I saw your update, I had to give this series a go ^^ And gosh, it was extremely satisfying. And I agree that even without the forbidden romance, I still would've loved the series. The setting was so perfectly set up with such vivid detail. Thank you for posting this review otherwise I wouldn't have checked it out :)

    1. YASSS! So glad to hear I dragged someone else into CP hell! I live for comments like this >:D

  2. Okay, now i've got to read it.
    I already heard of the series from a friend of mine and jet i was a little bit uncertain about reading it. (yes, she was like an all-consuming demon)
    but now after reading all your thoughts and praise i think i'm triggert enough to ruin my life as well. And i'm looking forward to it.
    Thank you xD


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