Wednesday, November 16, 2016

Prince’s Gambit (The Captive Prince #2) by C. S. Pacat

Note: The book reviewed contains themes only appropriate for those over the age of 18.

I only needed three days to read a book! Well, that says everything.

In Prince’s Gambit, Damen and Laurent travel to the border with Akielos to deal with the ever-lasting border disputes, facing adversaries and obstacles every step of the way.

The plot is full of surprises and suspense, brought on by ongoing political intrigues, and there is never a dull moment. Together with the setting, it makes up an incredibly rich story.

At the heart of the book are the characters, Damen and Laurent, getting to know and respect each other (and getting hot for each other.) All that while trying to stay alive, prevent a war, and unmask a conspiracy.

The characterisation is absolutely astonishing, the character development so well done for both characters, both starting from the opposite ends and revealing layers under layers… and it made me love both of them so, so much.

It is hard to say anything specific without spoilers, so I won’t. Except perhaps that I can’t with the brilliance of Laurent, who is clever and cunning and always not ten but twenty steps ahead of everyone else. Also, my heart breaks for him, because I think his Uncle/Regent might have at least tried something with him. Ouch.

Through the course of the book we can see how Laurent and Damen are not so different after all – above all, they are both honourable – and where they are, those differences are complementary.
They both come so far from the beginning, learning things about one another’s people and cultures, and changing in the process.

I liked that Damen is an imperfect hero, that he isn’t flawless, that he realises his own faulty preconceptions and youthful mistakes and learns better.

I see people asking where do other people (like me) see all of the above. I think it is because, simply reading doesn’t suffice: the series is not the kind of read you switch the brain off with and have a bit of a rest; on the contrary, you have to shift your brain into a higher gear and put in some effort.

However, C. S. Pacat’s writing reveals so much more than what is on the surface to someone who looks: the top layer is of course Damen’s limited, subjective POV, but underneath – between the lines, if you want – Pacat hides a veritable treasure of information.

One thing that shows that is, for example, the titles alone. Captive Prince and Prince’s Gambit superficially imply Damen as the prince in question, but I think the titles actually allude to both characters. For Laurent, too, is a captive to the Regent, and in the second book, there is not only Damen’s gambit for freedom, but also Laurent’s for his life and throne.

Like, I said, brilliant.

The last three chapters slayed me. I have nothing more to say. On to Kings Rising it is.

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