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Captive Prince + Prince's Gambit by C. S. Pacat | LGBTQ+ | Fantasy | Mine for the Reading

We walked in the night garden, and you took my arm and gave me counsel, and I did not listen.
And Nikandros of Delpha stared back at him, and in a shocked voice, speaking the words half to himself, said, “It’s not possible.”
“Old friend, you have come to a place where nothing is as any of us thought.”
In a land of serpents and wolves ever-bickering and unable to trounce the other, Laurent of Vere and Damianos of Akielos find themselves entwined by brutality and treachery in the midst of a brewing war and political conquering. Both will surely lead to the destruction of the fragile peace keeping everything just barely intact. Damianos, once a prince, betrayed and made a slave in the kingdom of Vere, is caged in his helplessness and inability to aid the country falling apart under the rule of the man—and the woman—who betrayed him. But that’s not all he has to worry about.

There’s one crucial thing to bear in mind when finding yourself in a kingdom made of honeyed poison: survival. Between the disgusting practices and abuse of the system that governs them, Vere, in all it’s finery and elegant nobility, can drive a man to do things that would leave him irrevocably unhinged—if not dead. The sickening, merciless brutality doled out by the Veretians in their court games and spectacles make the crown prince of their barbarian neighbors regard the country with a whole new level of near-maddening distaste and horror.

Laurent was born in this cold web of deceit, broken children, repellent men and women, and battered slaves. That may have lent to his impenetrable armor against it all—except for the very few chinks Damen discovers in watching him during his forced servitude. That is, when he’s not fighting for dominance—even mere living—against the ice-veined, amoral prince with a deep, personal loathing for Damen and his countrymen.

With all the well-constructed political disputes lacking the accent of magic and a romance inhibited by a stark imbalance of power as within The Winner’s Curse trilogy mixed with the horrifying cruelty and cutting treachery of Game of Thrones, the Captive Prince books are a marked success of a recipe gone right. Though, I’m not quite so attached as to roar about the missing—as yet—third sequel, it’s more than simple curiosity which has reeled me in, kept me glued, and left me reaching for what will happen next.

More than anything, I need to know how this will end. Will Laurent overcome the reality of Damen’s true identity (if he somehow already hasn’t?)? Will Damen be able to ease the suffering of that knowledge? Can a love (undeclared) like this—born within hate and brutality and slavery—succeed? Will thrones be reclaimed, war stopped, cunning outsmarted, viciousness eradicated? Questions that will dog me until book three. The answers may hurt me, and yet I still can’t wait.

Ebook / 240 + 216 pgs / 2012 (AU)/2015 (US) / Berkeley / Goodreads / $6.99

My copy was purchased from Amazon Kindle.

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Sidenote: I used the Japanese released cover because it is GORGEOUS. And makes me hopeful there will be a manga or an anime in the future. :-)