Kings Rising by C.S. Pacat
“I think if I gave you my heart, you would treat it tenderly.”
(Obviously this novel is not a YA book but the Captive Prince series is amoung my all time favourite, so I felt it was my duty to express my love for it in a review. <3)
C.S. Pacat’s final novel in the Captive Prince trilogy is a suspenseful, gut-wrenching world-win story of backstabbing, double crosses and romance.
The trilogy first started as an online serialization in 2008, which I was fortunate enough to have discovered and read along, suffering in anticipation, each month a chapter was released.
Fast forward eight years later on February 2nd 2016. It was 5am in the morning and my body automatically woke me up three hours before my alarm. I immediately found my iPad and downloaded my pre-ordered e-book version Kings Rising. I devoured the novel in one sitting, finishing at 10:45 am. Then, I took a nap. Then, I woke up and read it again over lunch.
The novel is engaging from the very first page. Picking up where we left off in Prince’s Gambit, the protagonist Damen has just had his identity revealed and his army brought to him by the mad meddling of Prince Laurent. The action doesn’t stop there.
The main issue surrounding the novel – in fact, the series – is whether or not Laurent knows Damen’s real identity. That moment is heart-breaking in its reveal – Laurent is vicious and wonderful and terrible. God, I love him.
With Damen and Laurent now in league, their armies – eternal enemies – need to learn how to move past hundreds of years of war and hate and work together so Damen and Laurent can assume their rightful places on their thrones. With only 385 pages, Pacat somehow manages this and within chapters, the Akielon and Veretian armies are slowly becoming friends. Nikandros the long-suffering and poor Jord are the epitome of this friendship. I like to imagine them drinking coffee together and lamenting over the latest drama in the princes’ lives.
One of C.S. Pacat’s most incredible writing skills is her ability to promote tension without it being obvious. This is apparent in one of the best scenes in the novel: the fighting scene between Laurent and Damen. This scene is incredible for a myriad of reasons, the most obvious is that it alludes to the past and that Laurent has been training for years to defeat and kill Damianos and here we observe what would have happened if he had ever been given the chance. The tension in this scene could be cut with a knife: picture two ridiculously handsome princes, sweating and cursing and pushing up against each other while they swordfight. Um.
We see a new side to both Damen and Laurent that was wholly sweet and tender. Their relationship really blossomed. The ending made me grin like a fool. Pacat tied up everything quite neatly – if you pay attention, the series ends in a full circle: beginning and ending in the slave baths, the misadventures they have together as they did in Prince’s Gambit, along with that final fight scene between Laurent and Kastor.
“Brother for brother.”
I have noticed a pattern in literature, specifically with the final book in a series. There is so much pressure on the writer to give a truly amazing ending, and sometimes they fall short of that by leaving some storylines not completely tied up. This is perhaps one of the best examples of a book truly ending satisfactorily with no character forgotten.
The Regent got his just desserts; Jokaste was so amazing and her revelation was incredible. But my favourite character was Laurent – his expressions were not as tapered down, now that he lets himself get close with Damen. We see who he might have grown up to be, before his brother died and his uncle destroyed him. What killed me most was how far Laurent went to protect Damen – he sacrificed himself and even during his trial, he cleared Damen’s name instead of his own.
“I lay with him because I wanted to.”
Despite everything, Laurent loves Damen as much as Damen loves Laurent and we finally have evidence of that. Damen, as usual, was a beautiful cinnamon roll, too precious for this world.
The night Kings Rising came out I was lucky enough to have attended the book signing in Melbourne. C.S. Pacat was a delight as usual – I have met her twice before. Her excitement and cuteness is wonderful and made me want to read the book again and again.
What a fantastic end to a beautiful series. Bring on the short stories so I can immerse myself in this world once more.
Buy the book here.