Tue
Feb 2 2016 5:30pm

First Look: C.S. Pacat’s Kings Rising (February 2, 2016)

Kings Rising BY C.S. Pacat

C.S. Pacat
Kings Rising (Captive Prince #3)
Berkley / February 2, 2016 / $12.99 print, $9.99 digital

Damianos of Akielos has returned.

 His identity now revealed, Damen must face his master Prince Laurent as Damianos of Akielos, the man Laurent has sworn to kill.

On the brink of a momentous battle, the future of both their countries hangs in the balance. In the south, Kastor's forces are massing. In the north, the Regent's armies are mobilising for war. Damen's only hope of reclaiming his throne is to fight together with Laurent against their usurpers.

Forced into an uneasy alliance the two princes journey deep into Akielos, where they face their most dangerous opposition yet. But even if the fragile trust they have built survives the revelation of Damen's identity—can it stand against the Regents final, deadly play for the throne?

The wait is finally over! The third and final (?) installment of C. S. Pacat’s tormented, slow-building relationship between Damianos of Akielos and Laurent of Vere is here, and in my opinion Kings Rising is well worth every ounce of patience readers have had to muster. Damen the captive prince is captive no longer, and he’s ready for a fight. But what of Laurent, his former captor? Now that he’s given himself to Damen physically, will they get their happy ending?

Back in June of 2013, I speculated on the contents of volume 3.

Spoiler-free vagueness: I might have been sort of right about some things I spoke about in that post, but other things took me entirely by surprise. That is the true wonder and glory of this book.

From the first few pages, almost nothing happened as I’d expected, and when seemingly inevitable things did happen as I expected, twists or reversals quickly followed, keeping me on the edge of my seat. Events and their outcomes surprised me over and over again; C.S. Pacat is a consummate hand at revelation, usually through unexpected perspectives on major incidents that at first seemed straightforward. (After reading volumes one and two, I should have been prepared to be blindsided over and over again, but I wasn’t. I totally wasn’t.) Keep an eye on the secondary characters! They might be more important than you think! In fact, I would advise a re-read of the first two volumes, if you have a chance.

But what actually happens in the book? All The Things! All The Things happen. War. Betrayal. Duels. Rescues. Disguises. Bravura displays of riding. Subterfuge. Naked wrestling.

I will mention two things specifically, aside from the naked wrestling: as you might expect from the end of Volume Two, Damen is no longer a slave, and has regained a measure of political and military power, so he wants his country back. And despite his recent intimacy with Damen, Laurent is still secretive about everything, from his personal emotions, to his keen observations of what’s going on around him, to his complex plans for bringing down his uncle, the Regent of Vere. It swiftly becomes clear that Laurent’s closer relationship with Damen has created problems between them rather than resolving their conflicts, and the problems they already had are exacerbated as the stakes grow ever higher. Plus, Damen’s own people are not inclined to trust a Veretian.

“Damianos. You can’t trust him,” [said Nikandros].

“I know that.” He finished the wine. Outside, there were hours of daylight left, and work to be done. “You’ve spent a morning with him and you’re warning me off. Just wait,” said Damen, “until you’ve spent a full day with him.”

“You mean that he improves with time?”

“Not exactly,” said Damen.

Damen can’t always read Laurent’s motivations and actions clearly himself, partly because Laurent conceals his thoughts so well, and partly because Damen lacks the ability to see as far ahead as Laurent. This has the bonus effect of concealing plot twists from readers, as well, since the novel is almost entirely from Damen’s point of view. Damen’s feelings are not one hundred percent transparent, as he’s easily blinded by emotion, but compared to Laurent, he’s clear as glass. Laurent, meanwhile, struggles to emerge from his own barriers.

A temporary separation between Damen and Laurent, early in the novel, leads to a whole raft of new political and emotional tensions, culminating in the first of several intense confrontations between the two. Each skirmish has greater emotional stakes, and leads them one step closer to confronting the original issue between them: Damen killed Auguste, Laurent’s brother, in battle, before the trilogy even begins. That is the central barrier that needs to be resolved before the couple can move forward. What will Auguste’s death ultimately mean for Damen and Laurent as a couple? And what will it mean for them as potential leaders of their respective nations?

The end of Kings Rising answered most of my questions, but not all. I have a new speculation now: will C.S. Pacat ever return to this world? To this relationship? Because if she does, I will be there waiting.

***

Learn more about or order a copy of Kings Risingg by C.S. Pacat, out now: 

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Victoria Janssen is the author of three novels and numerous short stories.  She also reads a lot.  Follow her on Twitter:  @victoriajanssen or find out more at victoriajanssen.com.

 

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