Book Review: Captive Prince Volume 1

9305362“This was Vere, voluptuous and decadent, country of honeyed poison”
Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the truthful 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…

It’s almost impossible for me to describe how incredible this story is. I was lucky because by the time I got to the party the second book was already complete, but I’ve read that a while ago and am desperately waiting for the final chapter in this trilogy. I have all the faith in the world that it will be the best one yet.

I have finally found a true, gritty, real, fantasy story with a beautiful enemies to lovers element in it. It’s not a romance. There’s no over the top declaration of love or a fluffy, happy ending here. It’s a story about two complex characters that have to fight through political chess plays, assassination attempts, and their own subjective views of the other to learn to work together for a greater cause. And in this pursuit they may even find that maybe they don’t hate each other as much as they thought…eventually.

Damen: He is an honourable warrior. And there isn’t really much more to him than that at the beginning. He’s been raised to lead his people from the throne and from the battlefield, sees things in black and white and has no inclination towards deceit or subterfuge. Which is why he also doesn’t see or understand those qualities in others. Seeing this story through Damen’s eyes is in turns intriguing and frustrating; it’s obvious that his viewpoint is colouring his understanding of the situations around him and therefore ours. This is great because it gives us an outsider’s viewpoint of the Veretian court and all its excesses, but frustrating because as a reader we know that there has to be something we’re missing because Damen doesn’t know to look out for it. For example; why would good men be loyal to Laurent if he was such a horrible person? That was the question that kept coming up for me and it was what made me realize that maybe Damen wasn’t seeing things as they truly were.

Laurent: He’s cold, calculating, cruel. Absolutely. And not just because that’s how Damen sees him. He truly is these things. But that’s not all there is to him, even if that’s all that Damen is capable of seeing through his hate and his fury at being held against his will. Laurent’s carefully calculated outward appearance fools everyone so completely that it’s hard to imagine anything but cruelty and evil coming from him…which is even more horrifying for his angelic appearance. But towards the end of this book we start to see some cracks in that armour, and he becomes, not quite more human, not yet, but definitely not what he appeared at first.

Now, in response to some common negative comments regarding the first book, here’s what I have to say (It’s okay that people don’t like it, and I’m not trying to change anyone’s mind…I myself have hated some books that others adore. These are just some thoughts for anyone who is on the fence because of these negative views) …

The depravity of the Veretian Court: The Veretian court is horrific. It’s a web of lies and deceit covered with depraved acts as entertainment. I’ve read many reviews of people who were horrified to see the pedophilia and rape and violence that was taken as a normal part of the court. Here’s the thing though; you were supposed to be horrified. These acts are never, in any way, meant to titillate or be glorified. They were meant to be seen as they were through Damen’s eyes; as nauseating and enraging. Even those who hate Laurent for allowing these things to continue have to remember…this isn’t his court. Not yet. He has no say in what goes on besides what he himself precipitates directly. And apart from the scene with Ansel (which was obviously not okay for him to do) he doesn’t participate actively in these things for the most part.

The lack of sexual/romantic chemistry: This is not a romance. Or at least not a typical romance. Yes, there are definitely romantic elements in this and it’s one of the most beautiful love stories I’ve ever read, but still…it’s not a romance. And if you’re going into it expecting a typical romance elements you’re going to be sorely disappointed. I’ve seen people shelve this as romance, or BDSM and I cringe. Because it’s neither. As I mentioned above this is a true enemies to lovers story. These MCs despise each other. Even if they can objectively agree that there is physical beauty in the other, it will never surmount their deep seated hatred for everything the other stands for. Not until they begin to break down barriers and see beyond the exterior. It’s also not a BDSM story, at all. The enslavement of Damen is not supposed to be sexy or an erotic device in any way, shape or form. Damen is meant to be a pleasure slave for Laurent, but it’s obvious from the beginning that Laurent wants nothing sexual from him, he wants only abject humiliation because he despises everything Damen stands for. So, if you’re looking for hardcore BDSM…or even mild BDSM…this isn’t the place.

Laurent is an asshole: Yes. He is. Because we’re looking at him through Damen’s eyes and Damen despises him. Again, this isn’t a thinly veiled plot device to add angst or sexual tension to an erotic romance. This is true hatred of one Prince for his sworn enemy and counterpart, and Damen’s revulsion at everything he sees as wrong and unjust. Damen is incapable of seeing complexity in individuals, preferring to label everyone in black and white terms, because that’s what he’s always known. Laurent can’t be labelled that way. Actually, it’s safe to say that no one can be labelled that way, ever. So, is Laurent an asshole? Yes, a lot of the times…but maybe he has reason to be and we just don’t know it yet. Maybe Damen just doesn’t know it yet either.

For my part, I went into this without much of an expectation in any direction, and was completely blown away by such an extraordinarily well-written story.

It is my favourite story, ever. Of any genre. From any author. Hands down. And I haven’t even read the final book in the trilogy.

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1 Comment (+add yours?)

  1. E. Jamie
    Apr 06, 2015 @ 21:53:33

    I’m so curious about this series but I want to see how you like the third book before I look into it. I’m mostly a romance reader but do have many books I’ve loved that haven’t been romances so we shall see!

    Reply

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