The Captive Prince Trilogy has been making its way around the LGBTQ circles for…various reasons, and looked more than interesting enough to check out.
The story focuses around Prince Damen of Akielos, who gets kidnapped, stripped of his identity, and sent to be a slave to the prince of the rivaling country, Laurent of Vere. Laurent and Damen hate each other, but come to rely on each other in order to survive Laurent’s uncle, the Regent, and his plots, prevent a war, and regain Damen’s position as the heir to the throne of Akielos.
I liked the overall trilogy. I liked the slow burn romance, the characters, the world, and perhaps most importantly how causal it was to be LGBTQ in that world. It’s definitely not a story about coming out or coming to terms with being LGBTQ, it really is more of a speculative fiction story that happens to have gay and bi people in it. The third book felt the strongest in terms of action and plot, but the second one was my personal favorite thanks to that sweet, sweet slow burn romance.
As you might have guessed, it is primarily a romance series. If you’re not invested in the romance between the main characters, you’re going to have a hard time liking these books. Additionally, this series, especially the first book, has some extremely problematic elements-slavery (the book centers around the enslavement of a POC character), rape, child abuse, verbal and physical abuse, suicide, the “POC are wild” trope, ect. Are these unique to the trilogy? No, many fantasy and romance novels, hetero or not, include or rely on these subjects. Are some of these topics handled in a careful, tasteful manner that allows for the development of the characters and their relationships? Yes, but I would still say that if you aren’t comfortable with these topics to pick up something else.
Ultimately, in the best and worse sense, The Captive Prince trilogy reads like fanfiction. Well written, smutty, interesting fanfiction, but still. I would have loved to see more of Laurent’s POV, and more of the world itself outside of Vere and Akielos, especially as more than deux ex machinas, but the characters have stayed with me long after I have finished the series.