Sometimes you pick up a book expecting a good story and you fall into a fandom so perfect, you never want to leave.
I thought I was taking a day trip to the funky art area of town for brunch and craft expo, but I ended up packing my belongings and moving into Captive Prince Retirement Home where the activities director plans all my favorite things: lengthy debates on literary double-speak and character doubles, eclectic fan-art shows, book club meet ups and re-reads, and the occasional drop-by of the author herself (via social media). It’s basically where I want to live out my old age (and my current age TBH). The Captive Prince fandom is my pop culture Boca Raton.
What is Captive Prince?
Captive Prince is …
- original online fiction (this means it first appeared online, like fanfiction, but has original characters/content)
- slash fiction (this means male/male romance)
- inspired by slave!kink fiction (it’s a thing, basically means it’s erotica with some dubious consent, at least in name)
- pulled from LiveJournal and published by Penquin
- two published volumes so far
- is due to release the third (and last) sometime in 2015
- written by freece, aka SU Pacat, and published under CS Pacat
- is a giant bestseller and major fan favorite
Why did I love it?
This is a question I can answer a lot easier. Basically I could just type up an essay about character choices, narrative tension, fantasy world-building and double meanings. Because all of that is legit. Captive Prince is a tightly-woven novel in the same vein as Kushiel’s Dart and The Sleeping Beauty trilogy: fantasy with an erotic slave element, warring kingdoms and political intrigues. It’s got a MAP in the front. You know how I love a map.
But there are THREE reasons why I became immediately obsessed with Captive Prince: Damen, Laurent and Damen/Laurent.
In the prologue, we meet Damen as he is ripped from his place in the palace, stripped of his princely title, learned of his father, The King’s, death and forced into the slave harem for the Crown Prince of Vere, his enemy. And no one knows who he truly is.
I love Damen, the Earnest Meathead Prince. He’s honorable and open. In a land where he has no value and no rights, he holds to his own code of honor at every turn. He takes things at face value without being naive. He’s tall, broad, athletic, dark and a little bit savage in light of the stuffier of court of Vere. And he has absolutely no idea how to handle his captor.
Laurent, the Crown Prince of Vere, is introduced as spoiled brat of the Veretian court, given a giant slave (Damen) to warm his bed or to ignore to death. Laurent is sleek, intelligent and calculating. Physically, he is light (skin, hair, eyes) where Damen is dark. Practically, however, he deals in darkness (betrayal, manipulation and intrigue).
I love Laurent, the Cranky Frigid Prince. He’s one of those rare characters who’s every look, every posture and certainly every line speaks much more than what’s on the page. When he’s in the scene, he’s often the only character I want to see. Not to mention, Laurent is effortlessly sexy.
Despite the fact that this story revolves around two very sexy, and very different, princes, it is a serious slow burn. The unresolved sexual tension screws up tighter and tighter with every turn of the page. I don’t think I’ve ever really understood the term delayed gratification before I read this.
But even though they aren’t getting it on, Damen and Laurent are certainly smoldering. Their relationship goes from complete animosity to a complicated weave of tentative trust and mutual benefit. Watching them figure one another out, and play against one another … all with zero actual contact … is just the best reading experience, I can’t even.
When you finish Book 2: Prince’s Gambit, you really won’t be able to stop there. This is where the fandom dive comes in.
There are the Hipsters: The people who have been reading and loving Captive Prince since 2008, when it was just a few chapters on Live Journal. They loved it before the rest of it, and they get the ultimate props for still keeping their Live Journals open just so their original comments don’t go away. (If you want to see what people were saying chapter by chapter, you can follow the postings on the author’s LJ).
There are the Hunters: People who are out there to get as many little tidbits of info as they can. The author has pretty cool dvd commentaries about certain big scenes … her thoughts on the scenes, the characters, and why she wrote what she wrote. This one is my favorite (and it’s spoilery obviously if you haven’t read the books).
There are the Academics: the ones who put up community discussions to talk about character, plot twists and most importantly WHAT IS GOING TO HAPPEN IN BOOK 3!!!!
There are the Aesthetes: those beautiful, lovely folks who make amazing fan art, so we can imagine Laurent and Damen in those baths. *sigh*
Damen untying ALL THOSE LACES. I love this fanart because it’s exactly how I imagined those strange Veretian lace ups.
I love these so much. This is a talented fandom.
There are the Curators: the tumblr trolls who find the hottest of male models in the perfect photo shoots that give your brain a safe place to land when imagining these fictional princes.
Trust me, fuckyeahcaptiveprince is gonna become your new favorite bookmarked tab.
And the first time someone asks you what you are reading so intently, or what has caused you to forget meals the past few days, go ahead and own the fact that you are reading original online slash fic with slave kink, a story pulled to publish in the fantasy gay genre about a bisexual prince who’s forced into the slave harem of a Young Crown Prince who’s totally gorgeous and tortured and they want each other but THEY JUST WON’T DO IT ALREADY UGGGGGGHHHH. I will understand.
So, once you’ve read Book 1 and Book 2, follow me down the rabbit hole by reading the Book 3 Snippet, then follow CS Pacat on twitter, and chat with me as well about your theories and your favorite Laurent quotes. I can go all day. What was the last fandom you fell into?