Girls, What’s My Weakness?
Well, that day is finally here, Kings Rising is out and has been manifestly devoured, and I’m supposed to be able to put my thoughts and feelings into coherent words for you fine folks to read. I feel unequal to the task. Mostly because I just finished reading 400 pages of a master wordsmith making sweet, slow love to the English language, and this post is making me feel a bit like a backseat bumblef***er getting their first heavy petting on while Shoop’s playing. But you know … spoiler free (CAR HUMOR!).
Let Me Bring You Back to the Subject
In case you’ve missed my incessant tweeting and proselytizing of Captive Prince, here’s a run down. These books are masterful tension-driven fantasy novels, with Shakespearian levels of deceit and familial betrayal, set in the backdrop of kingdoms far out of our reality. The premise is that the Crown Prince of Akielos, Damianos, has been betrayed by his brother, secretly taken to the rival kingdom of Vere, and given as a bed slave to their Crown Prince, Laurent, whose throne is held in regency by his uncle. The princes are bitter rivals, but Damen lives as Laurent’s slave seemingly anonymously, and throughout the first two books, both come to mutually respect and honor one another. It’s a slow burn of intellectual eroticism, a master class in tension, and bar none the best books I’ve read in a long time. Kings Rising picks up as Damen’s true identity must be revealed to Laurent right as they are on the cusp of a kingship-determining war with Laurent’s uncle. Whoa, baby.
You’re Packed and You’re Stacked, ‘Specially in the Back
Don’t get me wrong. A huge draw to these books is outside the political intrigue and is simply Damen and Laurent’s relationship. THEIR EPIC SLOW BURN OF LOVE AND HATE. Even when these two get together, they aren’t together. One of the reasons Kings Rising is so highly anticipated is because readers are still waiting for the emotional consummation these two so heartily deserve. And the physical consummation that needs follow. Because hotness. And oil wrestling. And prince kissing.
Don’t Know How You Do the Voodoo That You Do So Well
I’d like to thank Goodreads for somehow understanding how my love for The Lumatere Chronicles, Locke Lamora and Charm of Magpies would lead me loving Captive Prince because gay fantasy regency wizard romance is kind of a niche genre, and hard to pinpoint. But I have to say, it’s not those elements that keep me reading and re-reading and recommending these books. Sure the male-male romance and erotic slave kink element really REELED me in, but Pacat’s superb way of ratcheting up tension with terse dialogue and half revelations keeps me hooked (FISH METAPHORS … how long have I been awake today?).
Kings Rising is beyond tense. The anticipation of every scene of the first few chapters is fervid. Everything hinges on the next moment, the next assumption, the next word and it’s tense as hell. There were chapters early on that because I’d needed to see them play out so badly, when they did, I felt truly gutted by them. But that’s the thing about great books: it’s the tension that gets you. Then when the consummation hits, whatever that might be, it’s all the sweeter.
Came to My senses and I chilled for a bit
It was relentless and painful. But as Damen so rightly observes, “If it hurt, it was fitting; it was simply kingship.” I was reading like I myself was braced for battle. Every knot in Damen’s chest was mirrored in my own. The way Pacat weaves the central character-defining mystery of whether or not Laurent has known Damen’s identity all along into an ongoing mystery is so masterful you want to scream. Unreliable narrators are my literary kryptonite, and Laurent is nothing if not perfectly sure of each word he utters. Never had I so badly needed to know what will happen and dreaded it at the same time.
Pacat has this way of having her characters dialogue with not just paragraphs, but chapters, and even BOOKS between. Meaning one thing while replying to something altogether different is such a joy to read. My biggest fear as I read became whether or not I was bearing witness to the ultimate betrayal. Pacat made me honestly fear going forward, yet gave me no choice.
See what I want slip slide to it swiftly
This book was so good, my Salt-N-Pepa lyrics are starting to look like nonsense. Here’s the official summary:
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?
There’s so much more to say about how fabulous this final installment in the Captive Prince trilogy truly is, but I have to go re-read it right TF now, so we will talk about it again. And again. And again. If you’re done reading and want to flail along with the rest of us, join us in our Goodreads Boozy Book Club Group, and chat all about it in this thread. See you there!
What did you think of Kings Rising? Or have you just decided to pick up the series? Let us know.