Oh boy. There is a lot that goes on in this book. As per usual, SPOILER ALERT. Kings Rising is the final installment in the Captive Prince Trilogy and while it certainly comes to a pretty balanced end, tying up a bunch of loose ends, I can’t help but feel that there needs to be a Book 4.
We get several things confirmed – most importantly that Laurent was aware of Damen’s identity the entire time and that Laurent was sexually abused by his uncle and under constant threat of death. These two things explain Laurent’s behavior at every point prior to these revelations.
His treatment of Damen in Captive Prince is directly related to the acute knowledge that Damen is the reason for his suffering. Laurent lost his father and brother in a single battle, his brother by Damen’s hands and then his father via assassination. This left him in the charge of his uncle, who, as we know from the previous books, is a pedophile and enjoys destroying people. He takes advantages of a thirteen year old boy in his deepest hours of grief and then makes his life hell for years afterwards. The knowledge that his uncle orchestrated the death of Laurent’s family adds a more pungent layer of awful to the entire situation. The hard truth of Laurent’s abuse becomes all the more painfully apparent in the intimate scenes where you can see and understand how much he’s struggling with the realities of his past and his desires
Onto the next revelation – Laurent’s knowledge of Damen’s identity. Once you get into Book 2 this isn’t so much of a surprise, because you realize just how much Laurent knows about everything and how extensive his planning is. Everything he tries to exact on Damen in Book 1 – the attempted rape in the ring, the whipping, the confinement – is Laurent trying to force Damen to experience everything that he felt as a result of Damen’s actions at the Battle of Marlas. Laurent’s goal to to make Damen hurt as much as he has the last seven years, to show him, without telling him, this is what YOU did to me.
As a tiny side note, one thing I was very happy about is that Damen commits to ending slavery in Akeilos when he becomes King! Yay for character development! I was so bothered by his hypocrisy with slavery in the first two books, but now he finally gets it and is making active change to correct his mistakes.
Through all the tension of this book there are a few blessedly adorable scenes, such as drunk Laurent telling Damen about pony races and how he didn’t realize his brother was letting him win and that he thought he just had a really fast pony, or when Damen sees Laurent wearing a tiny Akeilos short chiton and just loses all of his chill and drops his wine pitcher.
The last quarter of the book was an exhausting, emotional sprint to the finish line. There was so much happening, so much to resolve in such a short span and so some things, important things, were pushed to the wayside for the sake of getting there. This is mostly why I think a Book 4 (and 5 and 6) would be good. The revelation of Laurent’s abuse comes right before they’re captured and there’s just no time for discussion about it. There are mentions of Damen’s past mistakes in giving away too much for relationships, but this is never again discussed or developed. There are hints and pieces to so many background stories that I wish we had time to explore. At the end it’s like a big breath of relief, but then you’re left with the nagging of What Now? The war is won, the main enemies are dead, how do we move on from this? I would LOVE a book detailing the rebuilding of Vere and Akeilos with Laurent and Damen ruling them together.
Overall, I liked this book, but not as much as I loved Prince’s Gambit, but that could be because I have a bit of a book hangover now and just want there to be more. Book 2 was so enjoyable and full of promise because there was another one coming after. Thankfully, C.S. Pacat is writing some short stories, two of which are available now. The Summer Palace takes place after Kings Rising, so maybe all my concerns will be alleviated there and we’ll get some extra closure there.
Thanks for stopping by!
*I’m going to re-read the series after I’m done reading Summer Palace. I’m curious to see how the experience alters now that I know what I do. I’ve read in other reviews that the first read through is from Damen’s perspective, but when you read it again you see it from Laurent’s, so I’m excited for a fresh look.
*I made a playlist, because I complete book-nerded out over this series. Check it out here: https://8tracks.com/erinkin/captive-prince