Blurb: Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the rightful heir to the throne of Akielos. But when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity, and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave.
Beautiful, manipulative, and deadly, his new master, Prince Laurent, epitomizes the worst of the court at Vere. But in the lethal political web of the Veretian court, nothing is as it seems, and when Damen finds himself caught up in a play for the throne, he must work together with Laurent to survive and save his country.
For Damen, there is just one rule: never, ever reveal his true identity. Because the one man Damen needs is the one man who has more reason to hate him than anyone else…
Book 1: 4/5
Book 2: 5/5
Book 3: 4/5
I’ll be honest I’ve had this series on my tbr for over a year now and even though the premise was interesting I wasn’t too inclined to read it just yet. However that changed the minute I read the first page of the first book. This is one of those books where just a paragraph is enough for you to judge that the writing will be phenomenal. C. S. Pacat can write like nobodies business. The plot she has woven, the vast expanse of it along with a multitude of fleshed out characters…it’s simply remarkable.
The two protagonists, Damen and Laurent, both are molds of such different characteristics. Laurent is a slender blond who is not only beautiful and sharp but also bitter, clever, conniving and ruthless. Damen is his exact opposite. He is an honorable, good hearted yet hot headed soldier of strong build. These two hate each other right off the bat. The hatred is genuine and deep, without an ounce of attraction…so much so that you won’t think that these two would ever see each other as anything more than mortal enemies and that’s where the beauty of the story lies, how they manage to fall for each other despite all that rifts them apart. Their journey is twisted, strewn with lies, deceits and emotional struggle but the way it ends…the place they both reach together, the solace they find in each other, the way they learn to see past what stands between them to the honest heart that awaits at the opposite end…it’s all so beautiful.
Of course as evidence by the blurb this is a series that is heavy with problematic issues like slavery and pedophilia. Hence anyone who finds even the barest mention of these topics hard to read should stay clear of this story. But having said that I would stress that all these things are dealt with quite artfully. The depiction isn’t explicit beyond reason, in fact it is careful and lends heavily to the character arcs and world building.
Speaking of world building, it was one of the strongest suits of this entire series. Akielos is very similar to ancient Greece or Sparta to be specific whereas the outlay and dressing style of Vere was reminiscent of Venice. This alone created such an eclectic mix of cultures and gave a very rich background to the story’s events. And while we are on the topic of the strongest suits how can I not mention Laurent’s mind, how he concocted certain outrageous yet absolutely brilliant maneuvers and how he and Damen together carried those out. It was a wild adventurous ride with these too.
I haven’t read a ton of M/M romance, my only reference point being Simon Vs The Homo Sapiens Agenda, therefore I am no expert on commenting how well things were in terms of representation but considering it was a fantasy and that it made my emotions go on the most amazing roller coaster ride I would say it’s worth every shot.
The only issues that I have with this series are the execution of the ending and the length of the books. The last trial was too quick and festooned with not as many dialogues as I would have liked. All three books are pretty short. The entire series wraps within less than a thousand pages, with writing this good I wouldn’t have minded reading a bit more. Also, throughout the second book the battles were a lot more on the ‘telling‘ side rather than the ‘showing‘ side. However this was quickly and effectively rectified right with the onset of the events of the final book.
This series was such an amazing and perfect pride month read! No matter how much I gush about the perfectness of it I’d never be able to do it justice. This is surely going to be in my all time favorites list.