Literature / Captive Prince

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 . . .

Written initially as a free online serial on livejournal by C.S. Pacatnote , all three books of The Captive Prince Trilogy are now officially published.

Captive Prince contains examples of:

  • Aristocrats Are Evil: The most obvious being the Regent.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking: Damianos, most obviously, as the rightful King of Akielos. Too bad he spends most of the trilogy not being the King of Akielos.
  • Badass Gay: In a setting with tons of sword fights and intrigue, and where most characters are gay or bisexual, you get lots of this.
  • Beta Couple: Each book has a couple getting together in the background that serves as a foil to Damen and Laurent.
    • In the first book, Torveld and Erasmus are an "ideal" master/slave pairing.
    • In the second, Jord and Aimeric are a rough soldier and a pampered, pretty noble who have an easy, affectionate relationship that leads to tragedy due to Aimeric's dark secrets.
    • In the last, Pallas and Lazar are an Akielon and Veretian who make an uncomplicated, fun couple who get together based mainly off of physical attraction.
  • Battle Couple: Damen and Laurent.
  • Big Brother Worship: Laurent towards Auguste, before he died. Similarly, Damen towards Kastor.
  • Book Ends: The first book begins in the slave baths in Akielos. The third book ends there as well.
  • Broken Bird: Laurent, although he refuses to show it.
  • Cast Full of Pretty Boys
  • Chekhov's Gun: The earring that Laurent wins from Nicaise in a petty bet comes in use again when Laurent disguises himself as a prostitute.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Red for Akielons, and blue for Veretians. The lines start blurring especially as the Regent makes moves to take Akielos' throne for himself.
  • Consummate Liar: Laurent and the Regent, from whom Laurent apparently learned all his tricks.
  • Creepy Uncle: The Regent, who took advantage of a grieving Laurent after Auguste was killed.
  • Deadly Decadent Court: Vere, as pretty much stated in the summary.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Laurent. Though most named characters seems to have their moments.
  • Decapitation Presentation: Poor Nicaise...
  • Disguised in Drag: Laurent disguises himself as Jokaste so that he and Damen can get past a patrol of Kastor-aligned soldiers. The leader of the soldiers in question is thoroughly convinced, and even comments on "Jokaste"'s beauty.
  • Dramatic Irony: Very appropriately, considering Akielon culture is based on Ancient Greece: the reader figures out long before Damen that Laurent was raped by his uncle.
  • Driven to Suicide: Aimeric.
  • Dumb Muscle: What Laurent frequently accuses Damen of being, and the common Veretian idea of Akielons.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Even before Damen started to like Laurent he was attracted to him and prone to staring.
  • Everybody Has Lots of Sex: Veretians are horrified by the idea of illegitimate birth and heterosexual sex outside of marriage, but are perfectly willing to take same-sex pets and indulge themselves in public displays of gay sex, while Akielons don't much care who you're attracted to but are shocked at the idea of doing it while someone is watching.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Regent.
  • Everyone Is Bi: Most characters in this series are fine with either gender, though there are the rare few who are exclusively straight or gay.
  • Expy: Laurent and Damen are very similar to Griffith and Guts from Manga/Berserk. The author has confirmed that Griffith was a major inspiration in the creation of Laurent.
  • Forbidden Romance: Damen and Laurent are the crown princes of two kingdoms who loathe each other, and more personally, Damen killed Laurentís beloved brother.
    • And Laurent knew of, and took glee in, the arranged murder of Damen's father and his entire household. Mostly because of the aforementioned brother-killing.
  • Gambit Roulette: It's implied that Jokaste pulls one off by convincing Kastor to send Damen to Vere as a slave instead of killing him, thereby giving Damen the chance to ally himself with Laurent and then bringing down Kastor together. She had no way of knowing how any of it would work out; it's possible she simply didn't want him killed.
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: Why Damen was so blindsided by Kastor and Jokaste's betrayal, why it took him so long to realize who Nicaise belonged to, why he never figured out the relationship between the Regent and Laurent.
    • Laurent describes Auguste this way too:
      "Auguste was like you ... He had no instinct for deception; it meant he couldn't recognize it in other people."
  • Green-Eyed Monster: Kastor for all that Damianos had on virtue of his birth.
  • Happiness in Slavery: Erasmus, Type 3, who was apparently chosen to be a slave because of his submissive tendencies. More generally, Akielon slaves: they're described as being perfectly submissive, bringing obedience to the form of a high art, but can expect perfect treatment and care in return.
  • Has a Type: Damen prefers blonde hair and blue eyes, and he's a sucker for an Ice Queen. Nikandros call hims out on it extensively.
  • Huge Guy, Tiny Guy: Damianos and Laurent. On a comment from Damianos that his borrowed armor is too small, Laurent suggests that he borrows the armor of a warhorse instead.
    • According to Laurent:
      "My size is the usual. I am not made in miniature. It's a problem of scale, standing next to you."
  • Ice Queen: Laurent is a rare male example, and has been described as a "cast-iron bitch". Twice. Also Jokaste, who's cool, calculating, coldly intelligent and took "three months of courtship".
  • Jerk with a Heart of Gold: Laurent, although it comes up very rarely and disappears just as fast. Despite their temperamental relationship, he has a particular soft spot for Nicaise and all other slaves.
  • King Incognito: What Damen tries to do as a slave but fails. He never had a chance from the beginning. But there are plenty of other smaller stints where both Damen and Laurent do this.
  • Made a Slave: Damen, within the first few pages.
  • Manipulative Bastard: The Regent. Laurent is a more honourable example.
  • Master Swordsman: It's probably easier to say who in the cast isn't. Damen is of particular note, and so is Laurent, although he hides this as much as he can.
  • Missing Mom: For a plot line where succession, the royal family, and bloodlines are important, no one seems to have mothers. Averted with Guion's wife, Loyse, who comes forward in the third book after otherwise blending into the background in revenge for Aimeric.
  • No Heterosexual Sex Allowed: In Vere, having an illegitimate child is highly stigmatized. As such, pre-marital homosexual relations are the norm.
  • One-Man Army: Damianos, if the battle of Charcy in the third book is any indication.
  • One Steve Limit: Played straight with all the different exotic Veretian and Akielon names until it is isn't. The Regent's real name is Laurent as well.
    • Played for laughs in the third book, when Laurent is masquerading as the cloth merchant Charls, and runs into the real Charls. The real Charls plays along and claims they're cousins named after their grandfather.
  • Pretty Boy: Everyone and their cousins appreciate Laurent's pretty boy looks, with varying degrees of vulgarity. Damen refuses to let the readers forget how blonde Laurent is, and how nice his facial and body structure is, and how fine his skin is, and etc., long before he even starts to warm up to Laurent.
    • It is, however, not until he somewhat likes Laurent that he really acknowledges his beauty. Before that, he just describes it in a vaguely detached sort of way.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy: The whole culture of Akielos can be summed up into this. Damen starts as this, but changes following his interactions with Laurent and the Veretian court.
  • The Reveal: Plenty in the third book, and many that might have been obvious to the audience but isn't to the narrator, Damen, in line with his inability to perceive deceptions and double-meanings.
    • Laurent knew that Damen was Damianos as soon as he was brought to him as a slave.
    • The Regent invokes this trope by casually mentioning his rape of Laurent to goad Damen into attacking him.
    • The true extent of the Regent's plots are all revealed in what is supposed to be Laurent's trial.
  • Royals Who Actually Do Something: Naturally, with Damen and Laurent as protagonists, but other characters as well, as the books' plot ties very intricately with royalty and the nobility.
  • Sex Slave: Damen. Heís doing his best to correct this. Also the many sex slaves in or from Akielos: Erasmus, to name one.
  • Someday This Will Come in Handy: Laurent, consistently. The most obvious being his conversations in Akielon with Damen, which comes in handy very quickly when he throws his lot in with the Akielons.
    • When Laurent told Damen he should have built some tolerance on alcohol if he knew he would be needing to drink with men like Makedon.
  • Spoiled Brat: Laurent certainly comes off this way at first. The pets in Vere are also cherished for acting in this manner.
  • Throwing Your Sword Always Works: Damen in one fight, which only works out of luck and because Damen is a canonical monster of a soldier.
  • Unreliable Narrator: Damen at first, blinded by prejudice. But he improves, most notably when he gets to know the Laurent behind the cast iron bitch front. Though still unreliable at some points because he is too noble to perceive actions that go against his principles, and is too blind to see what is right in front of him, as Laurent had said in the second book.
    • In the Summer Palace short, Damen recalled the moments after Kings Rising, by the time back up came, Damen actually lost so much blood he passes out. Contrary to his:
      "It was not a mortal wound, but it was nice to have Laurent fuss over him."
  • Villain with Good Publicity: The Regent, especially in comparison to his cold, difficult nephew.
  • When He Smiles: Laurent, naturally.
  • You Killed My Brother: Damen killed Laurent's beloved older brother Auguste before the first book. At the end of the third book, Laurent kills Damen's brother Kastor.
  • Zero-Approval Gambit: It's implied that Jokaste manages to pull off one of these. If Laurent's surmises are correct and she is to be believed, Jokaste was genuinely in love with Damen but found out about Kastor's planned coup, and, powerless to stop it, pretended to join Kastor's faction in order to convince him to send Damen to Vere as a slave in the hope that he would join forces with Laurent and bring Kastor down. It cost her Damen's love and branded her as a traitor to her King, but it worked.