Captive Prince: Volume 1

Captive Prince vol 1Title: 
Author: S.U. Pacat
Cover Artist: Benji Greig
Publisher: Gatto
Amazon:  Captive Prince: Volume One
Genre: Fantasy
Length: 240 pages
Rating: 4.25 stars out of 5

A Guest Review by LenaLena

Review Summary: Possibly the best Enemies-to-Lovers story ever.


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 as 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.

For Damen, there is just one rule: never, ever reveal his true identity. Because the one man Damen needs is the one man who has more reason to hate him than anyone else . . .


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.

Volume 2 starts with Damen and Laurent riding for the restless border region at the head of a ragtag army filled with Laurent’s uncle’s men. Volume 2 will not be officially reviewed here because there is a small, meaningless episode of non-explicit m/f sex in the latter half of chapter 10. It’s along lines of the well known ‘Tribe-of-Amazons-Demand-your-Virile-Slave’s-Seed-for-Breeding-Strong-Warriors’ fantasy trope, but, you know, that could be a deal breaker for you. That would be a total pity, though, because Volume 2 is fantastic and a solid 5 stars. Read my review on goodreads for details.

Of course, intrigue and complications still abound at the end of book 2 and it leaves you on the edge of your seat with no relief in sight.

So here is my proposal: Y’all buy these books so Ms Pacat can take a leave of absence from whatever her day job is and get to writing Volume 3 full time. It’s a win-win, believe me, for you, me and Ms Pacat. If needed, just close your eyes and stick your fingers in your ears and go ‘la la la la la la la la’ when they enter the Amazon camp in chapter 10.

There are 3 ways to enjoy these books. There are paperbacks with maps. Beautiful maps. But they do not have the bonus chapters that the ebooks do. Unless you’re into slave fics, the bonus chapter of Volume 1 isn’t that important. But under no circumstances should you miss the extended version of chapter 19 of Volume 2 that is only available in the ebook. It is essential for understanding Laurent.

If you don’t have the $3.99 to buy these books, you can still read both of them (minus bonus chapters) for free online here.

ETA: Captive Prince has been acquired by Penguin. Which means that a) book 3 will not be posted online, but will be published as paperback and ebook at a later date. The good news is that Pacat is now writing it full time. B) If you want to read volume 1 and 2 for free you need to get a move on. The free online version will be taken down later this month (June 2013).



  • Story time! <3

    I read this review and thought, "Eh, I'll read it now, before the third book comes out. Waiting isn't a big deal."

    So I went and read it, and once I got to the end of book two, I legit started freaking out. :help: I mean, I can't even describe how awesome Captive Prince is!!! I have NO IDEA how I'm going to wait. It's AGONY.

    So I did what any sensible sadist (excuse me: fan) would do:

    I decided to share the pain. :diablogrin:

    I went to the Teahouse webcomic site and posted a link to Captive Prince in the comment section there.

    Now I have about a dozen people posting comments like "I'VE BEEN READING FOR TWELVE HOURS. WHAT HAVE YOU DONE".

    Long story short: thanks for the recomendation + you're evil! Waiting is torture.

    • I am evil?!?

      Look at you little padawan! You will soon surpass your master. Poor little teahouse fans…..

  • Gosh, I finished the first two book last Monday and I’m still all googly-eyed over CP.

    FTR, I had heard about the novels around 2009 more or less, but didn’t bookmark it. As it happen, I saw a post about CP and ended up reading them. NGL, it was the slavefic thing that jogged my memory as that’s one of my fave tropes–though it’s usually poorly executed. My BFF got into them too and we have both (unknowingly) talked about it with other people too.

    What I really liked about both books is how each character is more than what they seem. Also, there’s a lot of plot (A LOT) that keeps the narrative flowing. I really like Damen, Erastes and Torveld. My fave character, though, has to be Laurent. He’s fascinating! In truth, all of the characters have fully developed personalities. The worldbuilding is fantastic too.

    Now, I understand that the M/F sex scene (which, FWIW, is barely described) might turn M/M readers off. I myself am not a fan of M/F scenes in M/M books (M/M/F menages aren’t my cup of tea either). In CP, though, the scene (which, again, is really short and not graphic) makes sense due to the situation the Male character is in. Also, it doesn’t take anything away from the M/M romance. There’s a certain practical view of the M/F coupling that has nothing to do with the M/M relationship.

    As stated in the review, Book 2 does end in a really yummy cliffhanger. It doesn’t bother me as I’ve got plenty of other books to read so I’m just keeping my ears open from when the author starts posting Book 3. :)

    • Editing to add: I meant Erasmus not Erastes.

      Also, said BFF and I have been emailing back and forth, having all kinds of discussions about CP. Including, of course, the most pertinent one: DOES HE KNOW?

    • It sounds like you loved it as much as I did! And you’re right, the m/f scene had no bearing whatsoever on the m/m pairing. But rules are rules….

      • I’ve been totally charmed by this series, indeed. *g*

        Oh, and I do understand the rules of this site. My intention was to reiterate what you mentioned (vis a vis the M/F in Volume 2). It’d be a shame if people who are on the fence (and would’t be triggered by that scene) would choose to pass on these books.

        Of course, triggers are what triggers are. I guess my enthusiasm about CP is quite effervescent at the moment. :)

  • I think Lasha wins with the 29 years!

    It’s very personal. To me, having an end at Volume 2 and having to wait till Volume 3 does not make it a WIP. I did that with so many fantasy series. This one ends on an exciting not, but it doesn’t leave me tortured. But I can see how some people would feel totally tortured. So use your discretion on whether this is too WIP for you or not, but read it!

  • Thanks for sharing this great review, LenaLena. I’m a fan of this series too, I laughed and cried reading it.
    I can’t wait to read book #3, but I honesty think there is no need to wait to read the first two books.
    Why? Because Book #2 ends with a less of a cliffhanger than book #1. It’s hard to explain without spoilers, but lets say the end it’s something we knew it would happen, and it’s magnificent, like the ending of a season finale episode from one’s favorite TV series, which it will have one looking forward to the season premier, but it shouldn’t be avoided because there is no guarantee of a happy ending.

    So, don’t wait, my only word of advice is that you better start reading the books on a Friday, because there is a chance that you will stay up all night reading book #1 and call sick the next day to read book #2. BTW In my never humble opinion, book #2 is the best of both.

  • I started to read Captive Prince while freece was still writing book one (not sure about the exact date). I’ve decided to wait until book 3 is done and the reread the whole trilogy in one go. I might buy book 1 and 2 though simply as an incentive for her to continue working on book 3. But honestly I HATE reading WIPs.

    Though I think I have everyone beat on the longest wait because I’m still waiting for Diane Duane to write the fourth book (Door into Starlight) in her Tale of the Five-series. I’ve only been waiting for 20+ years so far :-(.

  • “Y’all buy these books so Ms Pacat can take a leave of absence from whatever her day job is and get to writing Volume 3 full time.”

    Hear, hear! Now that the volumes have been released, I’m hoping we’ll see the start of vol. 3 soon…

  • I got you all beat.

    I had to wait from 1983 until 2012 for William Manchester to write the third book in The Last Lion trilogy (series about Churchill).

    That’s 29 YEARS!

    Yes, I am aware I am a history geek.

    Manchester up and died in 2004 and I thought I’d never see it. But a friend of his published the third book last year using Manchester’s original notes. The history world rejoiced! :bravo:

  • Thanks for the review…I too have given up on this series, at least until it is finished. We need to start a list of books with promised sequels in which we have given up waiting for :sad: .
    I’ll start: Zero At The Bone: four years
    I’ll Be Your Drill, Soldier: four years and counting

    • But both of those have actual finished story lines. I mean, a sequel might be nice, but it’s not like we’re leaving the MCs in different parts of the world wondering if they’ll ever see each other again. So I wouldn’t actually lose any sleep waiting for the next book.

  • This series is big right now on Goodreads, and I’ve been curious about it. Thanks for the review, LenaLena.

  • A most excellent review, thank you! Book One is sitting in my Ami cart, obviously past time I clicked the ‘buy’ button :hearts03:

  • This sounds like a really excellent fantasy series. I notice you’re complaining about having to wait for almost a year for the first chapter of volume 3. 😕 I have been waiting for 3 years for the 4th book in the Draegan Lords series by M.L. Rhodes, MY fave fantasy series, so stop whining. :)

    Great review.

    • Speaking of the Draegan Lords series, Ms. Rhodes posted on her website that the last book is coming out this year, in the summer I think.
      Like most readers, I have to say the wait for each chapter of the Captive Prince to be posted was agony. I gave up 6 months ago for the sake of my health. Thank you for a wonderful review LenaLena. You captured the essence of the book beautifully.

      • Haiau

        I have been disappointed so many times I think I’ll wait until the book is actually in my hands before I get excited, but thank you for the information. :sad:

    • I’m with you. I waited 5 years for Pat Rothfuss to write book 2 in the Kingkiller Chronicles. I admit I gave up on George Martin, though. Too many years, too many books to reread to make sense out of the 5th. But this is going to be posted chapter by chapter…. A year and not ONE measly chapter?!? My pet theory is that she’s written a bunch and is going to post a whole lot of them together now that these are published. This had better be true. Or I am going to do a whole lot more whining, thank you, and you can’t stop me.

  • I have heard only awesome things about this story online and enemies to lovers is my favorite trope ever but I hate cliffhangers, really hate them. I still bought two volumes and now wonder if I will have patience to wait till story is done ;). Great review.

    • I’m with you! I bought them and they are sitting on my kindle. I really don’t want to start them now but not sure if I have the will power to wait until the third is finished.

  • Great review, Goodreads and this one.
    I discovered it in April last year, and I experienced only one waiting hell for last chapter in Vol.2- Honestly, I don’t know how you did it for two years. 😉
    Sexual tension in these books is off the chart!
    I’m down with your plan, I already bought both volumes, but I do have friends with birthdays coming up…;)

    • Thanks! I love it people follow the plan!

      Now excuse me while I stare and drool at your avatar for a while…..

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