Book Review: “Prince’s Gambit” by C.S. Pacat

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The second book in C.S. Pacat’s Captive Prince trilogy, Prince’s Gambit brings us to the end of the story that was published online. So if you started following this series in book format then once you finish Prince’s Gambit you will have officially caught up with those that read it online, which is awesome because it means we can all pine for the final book – Kings Rising – together. And yes, I am just going to assume you will read this book because even if you haven’t discovered this series yet, it will not take you long to get hooked.

Before I delve into the wonder that is Prince’s Gambit I want to tell anyone that hasn’t read this series yet: GO READ IT NOW! Really, it’s this perfect combination of wonderfully slashy tropes and meaty plot. Like there is enough trope to keep even the thirstiest fangirl satisfied, but it’s also one of the most well developed fantasy novels I’ve ever read. It genuinely is the best of both worlds.

WARNING: Spoilers for the first book ahead, you can read my review of Captive Prince here.

With their countries on the brink of war, Damen and his new master Prince Laurent must exchange the intrigues of the palace for the sweeping might of the battlefield as they travel to the border to avert a lethal plot. Forced to hide his identity, Damen finds himself increasingly drawn to the dangerous, charismatic Laurent. But as the fledgling trust between the two men deepens, the truth of secrets from both their pasts is poised to deal them the crowning death blow…

Captive Prince created a wonderfully rich world, and a cast of incredibly intriguing characters. Because Captive Prince is such a solid foundation, Prince’s Gambit doesn’t have to waste much time on exposition, it just jumps into right the action and intrigue.

Picking up where Captive Prince left off, Damen and Laurent have formed a reluctant alliance. It’s in this book that their alliance turns into something more. Their relationship is so obviously destined for editable disaster that it’s fascinate to watch, like a car crash. Morbid and heartbreaking and you feel like you should look away but you can’t because there’s something so enticing about it. Sure there was some fun tropey slavefic stuff in Captive Prince but in Prince’s Gambit is where this relationship really gets going.

Damen continues to be an amazing narrator, mainly because he’s so incredibly oblivious sometimes. I just so love the way that he has had to re-evaluate his entire world view because, yeah terrible stuff happened to him, but maybe if he’d taken his head out his ass and attempted to see the world from someone else’s perspective then he might have seen it coming. He’s continually blind-sighted by betrayal, like every single time. C.S. Pacat manages his kind of righteous naivety so well because it could easily become annoying, but it doesn’t because Damen IS learning and the novel does not paint his viewpoint as the ‘right’ one.

Beyond Damen’s fascinating narrative voice, the political intrigue aspect of Prince’s Gambit was REALLY well done. There were a couple of moves that even I didn’t see coming. But then once it’s revealed it all makes sense. Like the set up was all there I just missed it completely… mainly because Damen is so damn oblivious to everything that isn’t Laurent’s beauty.

Speaking of the beautiful Prince Laurent. In Captive Prince he made a wonderfully tragic figure weighed down by secrets. He’s still super tragic in Prince’s Gambit, I mean he’s the character that you know is just going to get more and more tragic as the series continues, but he’s also so much more together than I expect. He has the skills and the intelligence to win this but he also has enough flaws that will make victory a struggle. Probably my favorite part of Prince’s Gambit was slowly getting to know Laurent through Damen’s eyes.

Finally, this book also features Amazonian-esque women, super hot sex, and fake dating (kind of). It’s amazing, just read it. Prince’s Gambit as good as, if not better, than the first book and it will leave you desperate for more! Seriously, I need King’s Rising like yesterday.

Author: Undie Girl

Undie Girl (aka Von) has a BA (Hons) Major in Cultural Studies. The title of her honours thesis was “It’s just gay and porn”: Power, Identity and the Fangirl’s Gaze. She’s currently pursuing a Masters of Media Practice at University of Sydney. Von’s a former contributor The Backlot’s column The Shipping News and a current co-host of The Geekiary’s monthly webcast FEELINGS… with The Geekiary.



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