Captive Prince by S.U. Pacat
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 at 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.
Forced to hide his identity, Damen finds himself increasingly drawn to the dangerous, charismatic Laurent. But as the fledgling trust between the two men deepens, the truth of secrets from both their pasts is poised to deal them the crowning death blow.
SPOILER ALERT FOR VOLUMES ONE AND TWO OF THE CAPTIVE PRINCE. MANY SPOILERS, INCLUDING DEATHS AND PLOT TWISTS.
(For an introduction to the story, check out Mandi Schreiner's post Captivated by S.U. Pacat's Captive Prince.)
Captive Prince by S.U. Pacat began online, being posted for free, chapter-by-chapter, in the author’s journal. In February 2013, it became two independently-published volumes. In May 2013, rights to publish the existing two volumes and the upcoming Volume Three were purchased by Penguin Berkley. This has both good and less good aspects for longtime fans. The good: the author will attain a wider audience, and the sale might lead to a faster release of Volume Three, which would be a boon because of Volume Two’s cliffhanger ending. The less good: Volume Three won’t be released chapter-by-chapter, so waiting for the completed book might be more difficult for those accustomed to the serialization model.
So, what do we do in the interim? We speculate, of course!
Here are my thoughts on three big events we might expect in Volume Three.
1. Damen will learn that the Regent abused Laurent, either sexually or otherwise. There are numerous indications in the first two volumes that Laurent hates the Regent, and that the Regent has emotionally abusive relationships with his young male slaves (leaving aside the morality of his having young male slaves, which is acceptable in their society). Laurent’s hatred of the Regent appears longstanding. When working against Laurent, the Regent repeatedly focuses on Laurent’s youth and inexperience to re-emphasize that he has power over Laurent, in a way that seems to indicate he feels a sense of ownership. Most telling is Laurent’s uneasily supportive relationship with the Regent’s catamite, Nicaise. It seems clear that Laurent sees himself and his own experiences in the boy and is hoping for better things for him, at least until the boy is killed. Finally, one of Pacat’s influences is Dorothy Dunnett’s Lymond Chronicles; Laurent has several congruencies with Francis Crawford of Lymond, who as a teenager was taken advantage of by an older woman as part of a complex political game; it wouldn’t surprise me if something like that finds its way into Captive Prince Volume Three as an homage. I think it’s pretty clear that something will be revealed to Damen about the darker side of Laurent’s affiliation with the Regent, and that this will change his relationship to Laurent and, potentially, have political repercussions. It’s likely that the Regent would attempt to use this information to strike at Laurent or Damen or both, emotionally and politically.
2. Damen will have a showdown with his brother Kastor and with Lady Jokaste. This seems inevitable. The series began with Kastor’s betrayal of Damen, in which Jokaste, Damen’s former lover, had a hand; Volume Two ends with the revelation that Kastor was in league with the Regent. Damen’s character arc won’t be complete until he has returned to his own country and confronted his half-brother and ex-lover. But will he confront them alone, or with Laurent at his side? And what will be the political fallout?
3. Damen’s true identity as Damianos, true ruler of Akielos and killer of Laurent’s older brother, will be revealed to Laurent. This also seems inevitable—the whole series rides on Damen being able to keep his identity secret from his enemy, so revealing it, and the results, are likely a major part of the story’s climax. At the end of Volume Two, Damen’s identity is revealed to some of the Veretians immediately after Laurent’s departure, so the event is already in progress. The interesting part will be when Laurent finds out, and how Laurent reacts to the revelation. Laurent’s reaction might surprise us, given that we only have Damen’s point of view to rely on. For instance, Laurent might already know who Damen is, but is not telling. Damen is not always adept at comprehending Laurent’s political issues and subsequent machinations; he does not realize the depth of the Regent’s perfidy until Laurent points it out to him, near the end of volume two. Also, Laurent’s true relationship with Auguste, the brother Damen killed, is never described by him in detail. There’s some evidence Laurent loved and respected his brother, but given court politics and the interference of the Regent, and Laurent’s general attitude of hiding everything, there’s a possibility that Laurent’s relationship with his brother was actually terrible, so Damen killing Auguste would not be such a barrier between them. On the other hand, the revelation of Damen’s identity could leave Laurent feeling massively betrayed after all they have shared, which could easily lead to even more conflict between him and Laurent, both political and emotional…and perhaps a volume four?
What do you think will happen in Volume Three?