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Malin

Devourer of books with a preference for fiction. Quite good at competitive reading. Happily hoards books of all kinds. Gets stabby going too long without reading.

#CBR8 Book 96: Prince's Gambit by C.S. Pacat

Prince's Gambit: Captive Prince Book Two - C.S. Pacat

At the end of the first book, Laurent is manipulated by his uncle into taking a troupe of men to patrol along the border of Vere and Aikelos. By this point, he has revealed to Damen that his uncle was behind the assassination attempt Damen helped foil, and Laurent takes his slave with him, as he has realised that the man is a highly skilled soldier and he needs his expertise to get his ragtag bunch of soldiers into shape, and survive his scouting mission. It's obvious that the Regent doesn't want his nephew to succeed, that they are likely riding towards a trap, and the men they have at their disposal are in no way fit to fight anyone.

Because Laurent is dangerously clever (he'd have to be to survive to adulthood), he uses the resources at his disposal. Together with Jord, the captain of his guard and Damen, he's actually able to turn the men assigned to him into a passable fighting force, but only after some very public demonstrations of his authority and some creative detours to give them more time to drill before they get to the border. Damen is in the incredibly unenviable position of having to help the man who currently OWNS him, and would probably straight up murder him if he were to discover his true identity, help secure his throne, despite the high likelihood of Laurent then turning right around and declaring war on Aikelos, Damen's home country.

On top of that, there is the growing trust between them, a much closer understanding and absolutely, mutual attraction developing between the two sworn enemies. Damen has to reevaluate everything he observed or experienced in the first book as he comes to learn more about the incredibly messed up power games between Laurent and his uncle. Damen is naturally constantly worried about what might happen if Laurent actually discovers his true identity, and more intimate their relationship becomes, the more uncomfortable he is about it. He killed Laurent's beloved older brother, and to a certain extent feels responsible for the lonely and f-ed up adolescence that Laurent has had, in the clutches of his seemingly benevolent, but in true fact super evil, uncle.

Damen keeps being torn between his wish to escape and go back to Aikelos to reclaim his own throne, and his growing affection for Laurent, that keeps him at his side, keeping him safe and aiding him in securing his own throne. Their growing romance seems impossible, and there is a fair amount of anguish on the part of the reader (at least there was for me), because how could the two of them ever really make it work. They are potential rulers of rival nations that have been at war countless times, and let's not forget - Damen killed Laurent's brother! It's difficult to forgive and forget that sort of thing.

At the end of the book, Aikelos seems on the verge of full out war with Vere, and Damen, instead of escaping, promises to hold an important border fort while Laurent rides into what is clearly an ambush orchestrated by his uncle. Then there are some revelations that made my mind literally boggle and forced me to start volume three as soon as I was able.

 

Judging a book by its cover: These books have had a variety of covers, depending on the release. The newer, wide-release editions of these books are not exactly all that exciting, but play in rather well to the fantasy and political intrigue aspects of the trilogy, rather than the "two dudes are gay for each other and have some sex, but that is really a very small part of the whole". Various pastelly colours, with a brick wall, battlements or a tower in the background. A fancy font. A rearing lion. I think the marketing department has done a good job making really very neutral covers.

Source: http://kingmagu.blogspot.no/2016/09/cbr8-books-95-97-captive-prince-trilogy.html