4.5 Stars. Spoiler free review.
When I first started this book, I didn't really know what I was getting into. I picked it as a recently-downloaded ebook for an 8 hour train ride back from visiting a friend and figured, what the heck. Why not? Little did I know that I'd quickly go from wondering why I'd picked this book to read to wondering why I would ever pick another book again.
The novel follows the story of Prince Damianos of Akielos after an uprising occurs. He's shipped off to the enemy land of Vere where he's held captive as a slave to the crown prince, Laurent. Damianos, known as Damen in his slave name, has to keep his identity a secret to the lands of Vere, lest he lose his head. That's the general summary, but that definitely isn't what drew me in when I decided to read this book. I'd heard of the book from a friend of mine, who insisted that it was worth the read, and despite the intrigue I found at the summary, had I picked this book up in any other scenario, I don't think that I would have given it the same chance that I did thanks to the recommendation.
In terms of the book itself, I found it a little bit slow at first. Initially when I was reading it, I found myself stopping and wondering if it was worth it, but that doubt was easily wiped away. A lot of the confusion was due to keeping up with all the names and places that the book throws at you early on, but once you start learning how they all connect, it's easy to keep track of them and everything becomes focused on the plot.
My favourite parts of the book are nestled in the dialogue. Laurent's quick, witty words and Damen's biting refusal to play along with the rules of his new home show that there is so much more behind these characters than what meets the eye. Not only are the main characters a treat, but each and every character they interact with has such a distinct personality that they easily reflect the way that humans inherently are. From shy and quiet Erastmus to bold but young Nikandros, the pets of Vere all have their own intricacies to them, and their owners are just as intriguing. There's not a single character that comes to mind that's boring or bland when you read through Captive Prince, and that's exactly what I look for when it comes to novels.
Not only that, but the author's depiction of the scenery of the world is truly amazing. The way C.S. Pascat describes the intricacies of Vere and how they compare to the land of Akelios where Damen hails from is breathtaking, and she uses an immense amount of vocabulary to provide the readers with the best picture possible so you can fully immerse yourself in the book. I found myself losing track of the train that I was on because I was so sure that I was in the palace of Vere, experiencing everything that Damen was.
Everything about this book had me completely hooked on it, and after the first few chapters, I didn't want to put it down. I'd finished the entire thing on the train and started the second one before I'd even arrived home, and trust me, once I was back in my hometown, I didn't want to sleep because all I wanted was to keep reading. If you're looking for an enticing start of a series with witty characters, lush scenery, and a thrilling plot, Captive Prince is definitely the place to start!