Captive Prince Trilogy by C.S. Pacat
Review by Jarad Johnson
I have been trying to formulate what to say on this amazing series since I (sadly) finished it. After the initial whiplash of realizing that I had finished the books, I couldn’t really articulate how I felt other than saying how wonderful the series was, but after that it just became too complicated. I have never read a series that is quite like this one.
When someone says that a book is unique, I often wonder what that means. Of course, there are some tropes and themes that all authors use or have used. Sometimes it seems like the same stories are recycled time and time again; there can be a sense of redundancy. But, there are a few books that seem like they create a whole new world, and for me that’s true of this series. It’s an amazing love story, and a sprawling, epic political drama. It defies stereotype and is truly a standout in the genres it straddles.
After much contemplation, I asked myself what made these books so great. I think a big part of it was the love story between the two main characters, Damen and Laurent. Yes, it’s great and amazing that they are in a male relationship, but it was also nice that their sexuality wasn’t the entire plot, but it served to enhance it. The series would have been amazing still, because of the author’s talent, if the two characters were not a couple. But, it became integral to the storyline that they were, because it was so skillfully woven throughout. Oftentimes, I find that LGBTQ+ characters in novels are either two-dimensional side characters whose sexuality I the main thing that the reader knows about them or written embodiments of common stereotypes. This is not the case here. The two are written as real people, with real struggles and real heartache. Sadly, that is a rarity.
Even though the novel does have heavy, overarching LGBTQ+ themes, that does not mean that it is only geared towards those of us in that community. Anyone can read these books, literally anyone, can read this book series, and unless you have a heart of stone, you will fall head over heels for these characters. These are books that can appeal to anyone. I feel that some stories, like this one, enrich our lives. That’s the joy of reading an amazing novel, being able to empathize with people who may not be exactly like ourselves (and why I inwardly cringe when someone tells me that they don’t read).
And if reading is fundamental, so is good writing. The author displays a keen ability to weave a vivid and colorful narrative, which helps bring such amazing characters and storylines to life. Through her writing, you there is no doubt of Laurent’s coldness or Dements’ terror when Laurent is in danger. She makes you feel it with them, which I regard as a great talent.
The plot is also superbly done in both books two and three. I really loved the intense war strategy as Laurent tried to outmaneuver his uncle, and almost always coming out to or three steps ahead. As a chess fan, I can say that it was like watching a brilliant match between two masterful players. Watching the moves and countermoves and manipulation on both sides really kept the plot interesting. In addition to the characterization, there are layers of believable political intrigue.
I am disappointed that there are only three books in the series and that I will be leaving these characters back on the shelf, I do not regret getting lost in those pages. It was truly an amazing read.
Jarad attends Middle Tennessee State University, loves tea, and tries to spend every spare second reading. Jarad is majoring in English. Bless his heart! Let's all light a candle for him and send him happy thoughts!
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