Captive Prince by C.S. Pacat
Series: Captive Prince #1
Published by Berkley
Published on: January 28 2014
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Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the rightful 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 . . .
If you haven’t been seeing/hearing the buzz surrounding THE CAPTIVE PRINCE by C.S. Pacat, you’ve probably been living under a rock. I’d seen it EVERYWHERE, even before one of my favorite authors recommended it in her newsletter (<——why I finally caved).
My impression before reading it was that it was some kind of pseudo-fantasy/MM/BDSM mashup . . . and that impression was fairly accurate.
Not my typical choice of reading material, but HYPE. And CURIOSITY. *shakes fist at curiosity gods*
As one might guess from the title (if one pays attention to things like titles *shakes fist at self*), the MC of this tale is a prince (Damen) made captive . . . A prince given as a sex slave to the prince and heir (Laurent) of a rival kingdom, only they don’t know he’s a prince, but that’s a good thing, b/c Damen did a really, really Bad Thing in the last war, and if Laurent found out Damen was actually the REAL Damen, and not just called “Damen” b/c Kastor (Damen’s illegitimate usurping half-brother) thought Laurent would be amused by having a sex slave named for the man he most hates in the world . . . Well, that would be Bad.
Did all of that cross your eyes? B/c as convoluted as it sounds, it’s deceptively simple.
What isn’t simple is everything that came after the initial introductions, and how I feel about it.
Obviously, as a prince, Damen isn’t too keen on becoming a sex slave. But who cares? B/c sex slave.
And even though there technically wasn’t much sex (on page), the hedonistic attitude of the nobility permeated the atmosphere, and the threat was constant, like background noise. And YES . . . I do mean threat.
But in that weird, willful suspension of disbelief way that’s exciting even as you’re consciously uncomfortable.
Enter Nicaise, the thirteen-year-old “pet” of a dirty old man in Laurent’s court. The thirteen-year-old who’s been serving in his role as “pet” for THREE YEARS. Who is maneuvering to keep his position, b/c he knows—EVERYONE knows—that he has maybe another year before he outgrows his master’s tastes.
So there are two things you need to know before picking up this book:
1. There’s rape.
2. There’s pedophilia.
I almost stopped 20% in, when Nicaise first showed up. I’m not sure what kept me going. Could’ve been the remnants of curiosity. Could’ve been the person who made an asinine comment on one of my status updates about how pedophilia isn’t being endorsed by the book, which pissed me off enough to make me want to finish it, all the better to KILL IT WITH FIRE. B/c really? Show me a book that does endorse the sexual violation of children, and I’ll show you a jail cell. #GTFO
Either way, I kept going.
And much to my chagrin, I found myself fascinated by Laurent.
He’s a prince with the foul mouth of a tavern brawler. Hatred burns in his eyes, but he almost always maintains a perfect calmness that is infuriating. He’s a brilliant manipulator who superficially appears to be no more than an indulged royal brat.
Beyond my newfound obsession with Laurent, I was reading not only to try to understand my prince, but in anticipation of other (despicable) characters’ downfalls.
So I’m hooked. *shrugs awkwardly*
But if I’d known what I was getting into, I’d never have started.
A secondary issue was the thinly veiled attempt to elevate the book above the stereotypes of its genre.
I have an extensive vocabulary. I majored in English, but even if I hadn’t, you can’t read as much as I do and not pick up an impressive number of words along the way.
Even so, it’s not unusual for me to make use of the handy, dandy word lookup feature found on all ereaders.
What is unusual is having to use said lookup feature every few pages.
It took awhile to catch on, so I missed the early ones, but after I grew wise to the tactic, I began highlighting: appurtenances, peripatetic, damascened, febrile, machicolation, etc.
I could go on . . . and on . . . and on.
After I acclimated to the overuse of words rarely (if ever) found . . . anywhere, I began to notice that many of them were frou frou stand-ins for more common words and phrases.
A man didn’t frown. His “smooth brow corrugated.”
A room wasn’t ostentatious, it was, “afroth with ornament.”
I was pretty sure “afroth” wasn’t a real word. I was further convinced when the word lookup yielded no results. BUT. Word lookup isn’t infallible, so I googled it . . . And discovered that it was a real word, but had been misused. Unless Pacat intended to say the ornaments in the room were, “in a state of lively or angry excitement.”
[Afroth.” Merriam-Webster.com. Merriam-Webster, n.d. Web. 6 Feb. 2016.]
I usually applaud the Shakespearean tactic of adapting, evolving, creating words to suit your purposes . . .
In this case, it felt disingenuous.
Like the author had hangups about the type of book she was writing—SMUT. Maybe intelligent SMUT, but still SMUT—and decided to overcompensate by impressing her readers with her intelligence and/or education via the implementation of obscure words that none of us have ever heard of.
Instead, it provided a distraction, b/c constantly having to lookup words.
SO. THE CAPTIVE PRINCE by C.S. Pacat is a deeply flawed book, despite its low page count. If you can handle rape and sexual exploitation as abhorrent cultural practices, then you, too, should willingly fling yourself into this deep, dark hole. If you can’t, RUN AWAY. If you don’t, you’ll probably find yourself as entangled as I am, but you’ve been forewarned, so you’ll have only yourself to blame.
If book 2 isn’t the significant improvement I’m promised . . . Heads. Will. ROLL.
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Hmm…To read or not to read, that is the question. 😉 I read another review of this recently, although I can’t remember where, and it was also fairly positive. It does seem like there are flaws, some big flaws, in the story. But still, I’m curious. I think maybe I’ll wait to see what you think of book 2 before I jump in though, so I don’t end up shaking my fists at the curiosity gods. 😀
I think I would be a bit upset with the use of big words just for the sake of using big words, Jessica. And I’m an English major, too, so it would be really tedious if I had to look up words to make sure I understood a smutty story correctly…
I’ve seen this everywhere, too, but the rape and pedophilia just might be too much for me. Even if the story does sound intriguing, too. What is a girl to do? Great review, because you got me very curious even if I’m not sure if this is a story for me.
Lexxie recently posted…Review: Every Day – David Levithan
I too have seen this book everywhere, but a sex slave as a main character? Just no. I’m glad my assessment was right because I keep bring told to read it, and that it isn’t icky. Thanks for saving me from ever attempting this one! I hope the sequel is better for you. I’m curious what you’ll think. (Also the vocabulary sounds really annoying!)
Molly Mortensen recently posted…Shadow Hunters Series Episodes One and Two Review
This was definitely an interesting read. You are right though, it’s intelligent smut… but I loved it. I liked how there was a lot going on and as you read the books, you see that the author was putting pieces in place back within the first few chapters. However, with the touchy subjects, this isn’t a book for everyone.
The next two books are much better. The plot thickens along with some penises, but hey! That’s what we want. I adore Laurent and he is more cunning than you can even guess….
Sharon Stogner recently posted…Book Review: Hell Freezes Over (A Quincy Harker, Demon Hunter Novella #4) by John G. Hartness
I think this is one I would pass on, but thanks for that great review. LOL
sherry fundin recently posted…Review & Giveaway – The Zombie Game by Glenn Shepard
I…do not know
I’m having a feeling that this one wouldn’t be for me. However, your review does have me curious but your cautions make me think I should pick this one up especially if I’m reading it on my ereader. I don’t want to throw that precious across a room. 🙂
Melissa (Books and Things) recently posted…Bitter Bite by Jennifer Estep
Wow… this one sounds like a bit of a miss for you. Sounds like the over use of words was annoying, especially if you have to stop reading to look words up.
Okay this is not my kind of read at all, but with all the hype, I had to put it on hold at the library. I am currently waiting but I’m kind of terrified now. Rape and paedophilia are not my cup of tea. Also my eyes DID cross over reading about the plot.
BUT, I’ll give it a chance. Because curiosity.
I will wait for you to read the rest of the series before I decide to give it a try or run away fast on the opposite direction of them!
Pili recently posted…Thursday Thoughts: ARC Review of Save Me, Kurt Cobain!
I’m SO torn about whether I should give this a try or not. Maybe I’ll wait for you to finish and see what you think lol
I know so many people LOVED this and I don’t mind dark but I don’t know…
Karen @For What It’s Worth
I am adoring your reviews this series 🙂 so much fun! I’ll look up all those ostentatious words when I’ll do a re-read. I completely blanked them the first time round. Laurent 4ever!
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