Captive Prince

9305362Well, this week Captive Prince ate my brain. It’s a two-volume set, ending in a cliffhanger, available at Kindle, Nook, Kobo and maybe elsewhere.  Over the course of two books, you get to watch two princes, who are enemies, fall in love—in a convincing, complex, and wholly satisfying way. I’m collecting links below, mostly so I can refer to them myself, but also for anyone whose interest is piqued.

Warning: The first half of the first book is difficult to read, with abuse and rape, on page and off.

Different posts in different places have talked about it and the discussion has been fascinating:

So now I’m kind of casting around in terms of what to read next. It’s been a bit of a strange reading year for me. In that I’ve been reading very little, but when I am reading the book has been very long (or very short) and very impressive, if not, well, eating my brain. And it’s all been m/m when I usually mix things up more.

Books I’ve read that bring to mind Captive Prince, or vice versa:

  1. Rifter by Ginn Hale. Portal fantasy. Follows two men from very different places with their slow-build, slow-burn romance, despite the fact one man is supposed to kill the other. Lots of UST. Lots of danger. Super highly recommended :)
  2. Fingersmith by Sarah Waters. Victorian England setting. Betrayal and reversals when Sue sets off to help a con man seduce Maud, a wealthy heiress, and develops feelings for Maud herself.
  3. Swordspoint by Ellen Kushner. Politics and intrigue. Fantasy world with no magic. Swordfights and men in love. Excellent sequel with The Privilege of the Sword.
  4. The Thief by Megan Whelan Turner. No romance, but if you love how Captive Prince uses point of view to reveal and hide what is really going on, this might appeal. Political intrigue and an appealing, clever protagonist. (Romance arrives in later books.)
  5. Inversions by Iain M. Banks. I should really reread this before I put it on the list. Yet, the stranger entering into a foreign court and trying to figure out what is going on plays out here. Yes, it’s a Culture novel and therefore science fiction but has fantasy trappings.
  6. Lymond series by Dorothy Dunnett. If you loved Laurent, Lymond is his predecessor. Not only that, if you make it to book 5, you’ll have a long-in-the-making romance over the next two (long) books.

If I think of more, I’ll add them! If anyone else has suggestions, I’d love to hear them.


10 thoughts on “Captive Prince

  1. Interestingly, I’ve read or tried to most of these. I loved the beginning of The Rifter, and the worldbuilding was wonderful, but as the pace slowed down in the middle section and the POV structure changed, I lost interest. I do love her book Wicked Gentlemen, though! It’s wonderful, though not that similar to Captive Prince.

    Fingersmith was beautifully writtten, with true to life characters and impressive detail. It evoked the Victorian era well too. And Sarah Waters has an amazing voice. Still, I didn’t care for it. I often have a hard time with con artist characters in romances. It takes careful writing to make me like them.

    Arguably, Laurent in Captive Prince and Gen in the Attolia books are both con artists, and I love them to bits. I wonder if that is because their cons are political in nature, and relate to matters of life and death, war and peace? I know I have an easier time forgiving actions that cross moral lines if they are in service of a greater good, and that was not the case in Fingersmith.

    But I think it’s also that I find Laurent and Gen more appealing as characters for other reasons, and that’s why their cons thrill me instead of putting me off.

    Swordpoint I started it once and didn’t get far, but I want to try it again.

    The Thief (that is the name of the first Attolia book): I consider it a Middle Grade book. I didn’t love it, but the second half was better than the first. It’s really in the second and third books in that series, which are written for older teens and have many adult fans, that Gen started thrilling me rather like Laurent does.

    I see several similarities to Captive Prince in The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia, and those are the books I’d recommend to fans of CP. The Thief is optional reading IMO, and can be skipped if a reader is not into Middle Grade.

    Inversions: I haven’t read this one, so I can’t comment. Maybe I’ll try it, though.

    The Lymond Chronicles: I have only read book 1, The Game of Kings, but i can see the similarity (though actually Lymond reminds me of Gen in the Attolia books even more than he reminds me of Laurent). Both Lymond and Laurent are thought to be villains, both are brilliant, and neither are what they appear. I’ll give the Lymond books another try, but Dunnett’s obscure references made The Game of Kings a slog for me.

    • I’ll correct The Thief‘s title. Thank you! It is middle grade, though I tend to forget that because I have a hard time thinking of the series as YA. I liked it just as much as the rest of the books, and gives good context for book 4 as well. But, you’re right, it can be skipped.

      I should probably reread Inversions, as maybe I’d think differently if I did. Nevertheless, it did come to mind.

      I just ignored Dunnett’s references the first read through, but that may not be a useful strategy for you. She can be heavy-going at times, but I found the Lymond series hugely rewarding. Some fantastic writing.

  2. I see your points about The Thief. Still, to me, The Queen of Attolia and The King of Attolia are, of all the books I’ve read, perhaps the closet to Captive Prince. They too have a Mediterranean (in this case, Greece/Byzantium influenced) setting, lot of political intrigue and clever counter-machinations, an enemies-to-lovers romance, and in the case of book three, an unreliable POV character (Costis), forced to serve the hero, but who does not see the hero’s admirable qualities for quite a while. Oh, and there are assassination attempts, too.

    I’ve head that Dunnett is fantastic from so many people. I will give her another try sometime.

  3. @Janine: If you had trouble getting into Swordspoint, you might try reading The Privilege of the Sword first, and then having another go at Swordspoint. I read Swordspoint first, really kind of disliked it, read The Privilege of the Sword anyway (I’d already paid for it), and liked Swordspoint much better on the re-read.

    The Megan Whalen Turner book that reminds me most of Captive Prince is actually A Conspiracy of Kings, but maybe that’s because I’m literal-indeed; it features an enslaved heir to a throne. The other book I kept thinking of as I read Captive Prince (besides Dunnett’s six Lymond Chronicles) is Carol Berg’s Transformation. It, too, involves a relationship between a prince and a slave, though in this case the relationship is bromance rather than romance. Both men have romantic (and heterosexual) interests elsewhere. They are both fabulous characters, though.

    • That’s a good idea! Certainly The Privilege of the Sword can stand on its own, and it some ways it might be more accessible (despite my love for Swordspoint :)

      I don’t think I’ve read Carol Berg, though I’ve seen her name around.

  4. Pingback: Favorite reads of 2013 | Jorrie Spencer

  5. The Captive Price triology is a pale
    Imitation of Dorothy Dunnett’s brilliant series. I don’t know why Pacat didn’t just name Laurent as Lymond and leave it at that.
    it’s such a literary ripoff. You’ll have no trouble noting the scenes lifted principally from Dunnett’s third and fourth books. She created the character ‘Laurent’ 40 years ago.

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