Title: Kings Rising (Captive Prince #3)
Author: C.S. Pacat
Release Date: February 2, 2016
Page Count: 368
Reviewed by: Lenalena
Heat Level: 3 flames out of 5
Rating: 3.5 stars out of 5
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 Regent’s final, deadly play for the throne?
The first third of this book was 5 stars. Laurent and Damen as we’ve come to know and love them. Laurent with his mind like a nest of scorpions, juxtaposed by straightforward and honorable Damen, who can read him so well. It’s dramatic, it’s complicated and it’s heart warming, this first third. In the second third the niggles of doubt started to set in. I honestly don’t mind suspending disbelieve in a romantic fantasy novel, but it was starting to get strained. Both men are crowding into superhero territory and -beyond a certain rah!rah! appeal- I didn’t like that it started to eat away at the complexity of the story that was being told.
- Laurent picking up a heavy oak chair with his stabbed AND dislocated arm and swinging it hard enough to kill Govart? Doubtful. Laurent excelling at the Okton, just after Damen has extensively mused how good riding and good spear throwing aren’t enough for this discipline, how he himself has had to train for years? Convenient for moving the plot forward, but highly unlikely. Damen grabbing a spear coming for him out mid air? Please. Is this even necessary?
It is the last third of the book where I could not help but be disappointed. It seemed to me that by insisting on a conventional romance novel ending, crimes were committed against the characterization of both the MCs and the supporting cast, against the wonderful complexity of the plot and to the series setup as a whole. All of a sudden Laurent becomes dumb, Damen becomes oblivious, the Regent incapable and Kastor, who was never really in the books in the first place, could have been replaced by a card board cutout when he first lays eyes on his brother again after his betrayal. I had expected much more deviousness from Jokaste too, after all, she had been described as the female equivalent of Laurent. The reader is presented with a lot of hand-wavy solutions, that lean way too heavy on luck and coincidence, and that just don’t hold up to any scrutiny.
For instance, the reader
knowsstrongly suspects since book 1 that the Regent has used Laurent as a pet when he was a child. There are several more heavy handed clues in this book. Damen, who is an expert in reading Laurent (even when he is trying to hide his thoughts) somehow misses all of them. Then Laurent, (in what is a wtf setup in the first place) for unclear reasons, fails to realize that, or course, his Uncle will use this piece of information against him and Damen. He not only fails to plan for that contingency, he also fails to prepare Damen for it. Sure, he’d prefer Damen not to have put 2+2 together, but Laurent has proven over and over again he will do anything, and suffer anything, to gain advantage. In fact, I can even see him use a line like ‘ The only people I’ve fucked are my uncle and my brother’s killer.’ if could get him something that he wanted badly enough. The series of events that follows after this scene is unlikely, illogical and far fetched. The whole trial is odd, with people changing sides for flimsy reasons and on hear say, the Regent suffering from his own sudden a-typical lack of contingency planning and the aforementioned card board cutout Kastor.
The only reason for this deviation from the style of the former 2.5 books that I can come with is that Laurent needed to be molded into a more conventional romance novel type hero(ine?) willing to self sacrifice for Lurve. In the process, his cunning and abrasiveness get dialed down from ‘ruthless’ to ‘quirky’. Personally, I found that a bit insulting to his character. I would have much preferred more battles (which I am normally not a fan of) and tactical planning and double dealing than this simplistic scheme with the fluffy outcome.
Still worth reading, but volume 2 remains by far the best.