I have been reading Captive Prince for almost 2 years. I checked: I started reading it in May 2011. And I was 3 years late to the game, because Pacat (aka freece) started posting Captive Prince chapters to her livejournal page in May 2008. By the time I heard about it she was 16 chapters into book 2 and it only took another year for her finish that book, one chapter every few months. Believe me, you haven’t lived until you’ve experienced the exquisite agony of waiting for a book to finish like that. And while Volume 1 and 2 are finished and published now, we have been waiting for almost a year for the first chapter of Volume 3 and given the way book 2 ended, that has really been quite nerve wracking.
Captive Prince personifies both the best and worst things about a story told through web serial. The worst is the waiting. For years, if you’re unlucky enough to find the story early. And reading the story one chapter at a time makes for a choppy experience, which is why I reread both books for the purpose of this review. The best? It’s hard to imagine finding a story like this being offered through regular publishing channels, if it had not already acquired a fan base through the web postings.
Captive Prince is a Fantasy trilogy-to-be with one story arc spanning the 3 books. Warning: there is no resolution (or happy couple) at the end of this first volume.
In the beginning of book 1 we find Damen, the crown prince of Akielos, imprisoned and enslaved and sent out to the court of archenemy Vere where he is handed to crown prince Laurent, whose brother he killed in battle 6 years ago. There is instant mutual loathing between Damen and Laurent. Not only are they natural enemies, Laurent is conniving and cruel. Damen is fighting against the chains that bind him and completely out of his depth in the court of Vere. Volume 1 is an elaborate introduction to the social and political landscape in Vere and how it has produced a man like Laurent, who has to survive another 10 months before his uncle and regent has to pass the throne to him. Damen gets caught in the political games between the two men and bears the brunt of the resulting fallout. By the end, though, Damen and Laurent have established a grudging respect for each other and a very tentative trust. There is sex in this book, but not between Damen and Laurent. (Also, it is implied that a side character gets raped, off page, for those of you with triggers).
Captive Prince Volume 1 tells a story in which the reader, along with Damen, finds out that nothing is as it seems, that there are layers upon layers of intrigue and deception. The writing is clear, concise and engaging, without dumping buckets of angst over the pages. Volume 1 is a little heavy on the court life and slave-fic, for my personal tastes, but I know there are plenty of people who enjoy that more than me. Despite that, this a more than solid set up for the rest of the story, which promises to be an Enemies-to-Lovers story of truly epic proportions. And by epic I mean not only ‘great and awesome’, but also ‘of substantial length’, like the epic poetry of yore. If you like your m/m romance ‘fun size’ and wrapped up in less than 150 pages, do not bother with this book.