Review: Kings Rising by C.S. Pacat

Posted February 23, 2018 by Kim in books, review / 0 Comments

Kings Rising by C.S. Pacat
Series: Captive Prince (#3)
Published: February 2nd, 2016
Publisher: Berkley
Source: Purchased

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?

Turning the final pages of Kings Rising, I was sorry to see it come to a finish. The past three books have definitely been a journey. With fascinating characters and an insightful series I can return to, it helped draw me out of a reading slump.

Saying that this trilogy is best appreciated as a whole is praise applicable on some level to almost every other series. Rarely, however, do finales flip the narrative on its head and shatter what we are led to believe all along. If Captive Prince wasn’t a book you enjoyed, then I don’t know if the pay-off of the final two books are worth the trek through. But if you liked the first book like I did, then it only got better for me with every installment.

Spoilers (Warning Warning Heed the Bells)

‘I see you thought of everything,’ said Damen, bitterly. ‘It didn’t have to be—you could have come to me, and asked for my help, I would have—’
‘Killed the rest of my family?’

It might be a little ridiculous to hear that this let-me-tell-you-my-feelings review is being written months after I finished Kings Rising. So instead, let me turn it into a conversation about characters written down to their idiosyncrasies with detail. Laurent and Damen have given me some of the best interactions I could ask for. Laurent is cold and has a detached attitude that I’m drawn to because it usually produces some incredible comebacks, but his brand of honesty isn’t so different from Damen’s.

Laurent sees the truth of the world and Damen has an easy way seeing the truth of Laurent. It doesn’t fix all the bad blood between them, but the dynamic has room to change to something better in the future.

The Politics

The heart of these books do not focus on world building. If you start poking at the seams, it will eventually tear and put the messier parts on display. Damen’s end goal is one almost all kingdom stories have to approach, but it’s obvious that all his biggest threats are the least present ones.

The Regent and Kastor, our fake kings, are more schemers in the shadows than leaders who are willingly to ride at the head of their armies.

‘No,’ said Damen. ‘He’s just one man.’

Which is a prudent observation, because the Regent really isn’t that scary. He’s one man, who’s suppose to have a hell of a mind for tactics, but we see less of his conniving than his disturbing pedophilia. Kastor feels more like a puppet being moved along by the Regent, and both are neither truly present until the climax of the story. They’re more like ominous clouds that hang over the story—always there, always felt, but never really threatening in the immediate sense.

This is Not a Drill: Don’t Continue if You Haven’t Read Kings Rising (Unless Spoilers are Your Friend)

‘I’ve come to tell you who I am.’ […]
‘I know who you are, Damianos,’ said Laurent. […]
‘Did you think,’ said Laurent, ‘I wouldn’t recognize the man who killed my brother?’

For many contemplative readers, you might also find that narrative proves itself time and time again to be fascinating. How we frame the accounts of our stories determines how much access we’ll have to the setting or the minds of characters.

The Prince of Vere, who up to the start of Captive Prince, has never been know to take a pet. Instead, the Prince has been forced to fend off an uncle too attached to a throne that doesn’t belong to him. Laurent, who is alone because his brother was slaughtered by the man being forced to his knees in front of him. But he has to be careful—very careful—with his emotions, because his uncle is looking for his reaction.

He wants to see you break, to see you unnerved, anything to prove that you are unfit to rule in a few months.

So you stomach it and pretend that your brother’s killer isn’t just a few feet away. You pretend that it won’t make you sick. Tell yourself the little boy who loved to read died with your family. Pretend that Damen, steadfast when everything is tilting off its axis, is not Damianos Prince-Killer.

But you can’t.

Captive Prince is marketed as a romance. It is explicit, with a slow-burn relationship that get me every time. Theirs is not a easy love, a little painful to reflect on but more understandable in retrospect. Damen and Laurent kept me on my toes and always engaged. It might not a perfect book, but I wouldn’t trade the time I spent with these characters for anything else.

Rating Report
Characters
4.5 star rating
Plot
4 star rating
Writing
4.5 star rating
Pacing
4 star rating
Overall 4.25 stars

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