Kings Rising by C. S. Pacat (Captive Prince, #3)

Kings Rising by C. S. Pacat (Captive Prince, #3)
Review of: Kings Rising
C. S. Pacat

Reviewed by:
On 5 February 2016
Last modified:4 September 2016


Unexpected and brutal and funny and heartbreaking and smart. Everything we expect from this series, topped with feelings.

Kings Rising by CS Pacat (Captive Prince, #3)Unexpected and brutal and funny and heartbreaking and smart. Everything we expect from this series, topped with feelings. Warning: Here be spoilers!

An advance reading copy of this book was generously provided by Penguin Random House via Netgalley.

I have been waiting YEARS for this day. Well, not years. But a long time. And yes, nowhere near as long as others (I’m looking at you, original fans). But dear lord, when Kings Rising was delivered to my Kindle courtesy of the publisher, I sank to my knees and said a word of thanks. The formatting may be a bit shit (it’s a Netgalley copy, but the real thing has already been released???) and it came after I had the chance to buy it, but hey, it’s here in my hands and who the hell cares about anything else.

Let’s begin.

Kings Rising by CS Pacat is about Damen and Laurent reclaiming their rightful thrones. That’s it. That’s the whole thing. But oh oh oh, it’s so much more. The book picks up straight after the Prince’s Gambit ends, with the Nikandros kneeling at Damen’s feet and the Veretians at Ravenal hearing the name Damianos echo through the crowd. It’s really difficult for me to think of these books as three separate entities when they’re so cohesive, they scream of their internet serial origins.

Anyway, this book takes us from Vere to Akielos and again, Pacat takes us on a mothereffing journey. The world building, as usual, is flawless. Akielos has blue seas and white buildings and in my mind, it’s Greece, and ughhh, so vivid. But I’m left in awe of her style more than anything. Like, it’s so good I just feel lucky that I get to experience her writing?

The relationship between Laurent and Damen is taken to new levels in this final instalment of the series — and thankfully so. The previous books were a lesson in UST (unresolved sexual tension), and reading them was the most beautifully painful thing I’ve ever experienced. Until Kings Rising. Previously, we saw the world through Damen’s eyes. We experienced his heartbreaking naiveté and noble spirit. We saw him grapple with his feelings for Laurent, and in return, we saw the rigid control of Laurent thaw as the two became confidantes. After Prince’s Gambit, they’ve finally made love and though that may have slaked their lust (and ours, kinda but not really), nothing is settled. We have a terrified Damen who hates that he’s lied to Laurent, and we have a Laurent who is so keenly intelligent that of course he knows.


Because how could he not?

And even though we knew/strongly suspected, Pacat still manages to surprise us. She does the reveal in such a beautiful, heartwrenching way that you’re left breathless. It’s so starkly simple but laden with FEELINGS. Classic Captive Prince. There were these moments between them that I had to stop reading to just process what was happening. It was overwhelming bearing witness to their relationship as they battled wills. They would weaponise the other’s words, taking phrases from their most vulnerable moments and lash out at the other. But they were words that meant something to US so it hurt all the more to see them do it. And then when they finally decided that fighting each other was useless, it became too much to bear.

Damen tells Laurent, ‘I think if I gave you my heart, you would treat it tenderly.’ And Laurent responds, ‘When you make love to me like that, I can’t think.’

End. Me.

But this is what Pacat does. She takes these sweet, sweet moments and makes them unbearable because she has this killer style that is so stark but so evocative at the same time. She can make you need to take a break just by saying, ‘He flushed, hard.’ Because Laurent having an uncontrollable physical reaction is IMPORTANT. There’s this bit when Laurent comforts Damen (!!!!!) and all of a sudden, they’re hugging but the word is never used but they’re pressed against each other and hugging isn’t a word that suits Laurent but the moment is all the more effective for it. I just don’t know any other author who can make me freak out with a simple ‘Hello, lover.’ She is unexpected and brutal and funny and heartbreaking and smart and the books just exemplify how sharp she is.

And like the transition from Old Skool romance to New Skool, with an unattainable and enigmatic hero, we get the same transition in Kings Rising. Where we had previously viewed Laurent only through Damen’s eyes, now we get a glimpse into the diamond-bright mind of Laurent.

Except it’s a tease. We get a hint of who he is before he’s taken away behind the silk screen of Damen’s lust/love. I loved not only witnessing the rigid control but EXPERIENCING it. Seeing exactly how Laurent manages to measure his actions and reactions. We always think of Damen as strong, you know, because he’s so physically amazing. But it’s not a word I had applied to Laurent before. Clever, beautiful, wicked, fast, resilient — sure. But this book shows us his true strength and how much he can resist and has been through to become the ice Prince of Vere. It shows just how much that ice-prince image is cultivated, and that really, Laurent is a twenty-year old who has been forced to adapt to changing circumstances and Damen is the only person he can allow himself to trust. Kings Rising escalates this to another level.

It’s these brief moments away from Damen where we realise how much of a beautiful, innocent butterfly Damen really is. When he finds out about Laurent’s history with his uncle, his reaction is huge. But as readers, we’re sitting here asking, How the hell could you not know? And then his blind trust in people. Like, what the hell dude? Has Laurent taught you nothing?? But he’s our big, naïve barbarian and we love him for it. And what a blessing it is that our big, naïve barbarian likes to get sweaty when he’s mad/confused/anxious/sad/happy. The first few chapters are Damen basically dealing with his unrequited love and lust by taking off his clothes and fighting imaginary opponents. And all of this delicately sets up the scene where his boyfriend comes in and is all, Fight me, big boy, and they fight and it’s so angry and hot and beautiful and sad.

Anyway, 1200 words later and I still haven’t managed to do this book justice. There’s no question that Kings Rising lives up to the previous two books — they’re so seamless that it’s just a continuation that only gets better. My only complaint is that the book was so short. I’m so so sad to say goodbye to these two boys. (Yes, boys. Laurent is 20!!!). Books that make me feel like this are pretty rare so I think I’m just going to reread it…nothing else will come close until CS Pacat releases another book. So thank you, Ms Pacat, for this amazing look inside your mind because it looks like a killer place to be.

PS Can we please start a petition asking CS Pacat to write and release a scene where Damen bottoms for the first time? Please? Because there’s a moment…a part of the book…where….oh god, I can’t even talk about it! (sobs)

PPS You have to forgive me for the previous PS because, for real, I tried to keep this review real clean even though all I wanted to talk about was Laurent………….kneeling…………………… in front of Damen……………….

Content advisory: Overwhelming feelings!

You can listen to CS Pacat reading an extract of the book here. And then listen to a brainstorming session for the book here.

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Twenty-three-year old postgrad student who has now read too much erotica to know what's appropriate to say in every-day conversations. Likes: romance, food, musicals. Dislikes: sad endings, loud chewing, spoilers.


  1. Kaetrin says:

    I loved it too. But I wouldn’t sign the petition.

    It’s a trope that just so common in m/m, as if there is some kind of checklist that guys have to tick off in order to level up and the the top bottoming is the last one before the WINNER WINNER sign.

    I actually LOVED how CS Pacat subverted that trope in Kings Rising. I’d leave it just the way it is. JMO :)

      • Kaetrin says:

        True, but I think some tropes and cliches are problematic even so.

        (TBH, I have the same thoughts about m/f romance where PiV sex is so often privileged over other intimacy and is presented as the only “real sex” and some kind of gold standard. In m/m anal sex tends to be privileged and the gold standard is both guys switching top/bottom. Perhaps I am too jaded!)

    • Gabby says:

      Cat has said that she doesn’t think either Damen or Laurent take the roles of top/bottom so I love that there’s a fluidity to them. It doesn’t seem cliche to me because everything she does basically messes with what you’d expect romance to do. She never does the Big Mis, convenient baby, or anything. I just thought the tension of it was so incred that a little more would be pleasant :)

      • Kaetrin says:

        Fair enough. I hadn’t seen that she thinks neither Damen or Laurent take the role as top/bottom. Given their (limited) sexual history in the book, it seemed that Damen was the more physically dominant to me but I absolutely have no problem with couples (fictional or otherwise!) who like to switch things up.

        (I still loved the scene as it was though :P)

    • Isett says:

      I actually thought the way it was done in book 2 was far more trope-y.
      I mean, book 1 says Damen loves his women blonde and blue-eyed (we immediately understand who’s gonna bottom in this relationship and it’s not gonna be Damon), and then in book 2 Damen is on top even though Laurent has control issues and it’s 100% logical for him to do so. But he’s a smart pretty boy, so of course he bottoms. That’s like, old school slashfic.

      (Frankly,so is his history. It’s always the pretty boy bottom who was molested/raped in the past for extra drama.)

      • Kaetrin says:

        I can totally see that. (I’m not familiar with slashfic but I get your drift.)

        I think it worked for me for 2 reasons:
        1) because Damen is the slave and *cannot* consent, giving him the dominant sexual position provides a better illusion that he can. That is not to say that consent wasn’t an issue in the book. Of course it was. And, I’m not suggesting that if a slave takes a dominant sexual position that actually does mean they consent. Merely, that it is easier for the *reader to consent*. The themes of the first book in particular but also the second, are all about Damen being powerless (and slowly realising that Laurent too is restricted in his power, though he is more powerful than Damen at all times during the first two volumes of course). In the sexual situation, Damen having *some power* flipped that dynamic somewhat. So there were tropes within tropes there I think.
        2) I read the books for the first time 3 years ago and my thoughts about tropes (and especially the “everybody gets a turn” concept) developed in the intervening period. I’m certainly much more conscious of these things now.

  2. Kat says:

    So I’m reading the series properly (finally) now, and I’m not sure why there’s even a question of whether or not Laurent knows who Damen is? It’s clear from their first meeting that he knows, and it’s really the only reason I was able to read through all the brutality in the first half of book 1. I’m up to book 3 now. Hold me! lol

    • Kaetrin says:

      I thought it was completely obvious on re-read but back in 2011/12 there was hot debate about the issue. It’s possible to read it either way but my conclusion when I first read it was that he had to have known.

      I don’t think the book could have worked for me otherwise for pretty much the same reasons you describe.

      • Kat says:

        I think it’s probably more obvious when you read it straight through instead of as a serial. It’s right there the moment Laurent sees Damen:

        Laurent had stopped dead the moment he had seen Damen, his face turning white as though in reaction to a slap, or an insult.

  3. Kaetrin says:

    @Kat Forgot to add – one of the commenters at DA said she had no idea that Laurent knew. She read the same books we did but it was not at all obvious to her. So there’s that too.

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