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Damen: Is there anyone at this court who isn't my enemy?
Laurent: Not if I can help it.
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Damen is the Warrior Prince of Akielos, beloved by his people. Unfortunately, upon his father's death, he is not granted the throne. Instead, he is presented with a bloody coup staged by his envious half-brother Kastor. Captured and stripped of his identity, Damen tries unsuccessfully to fight, but he cannot escape his imminent fate—a life spent as a pleasure slave for the prince of an enemy nation.

Prince Laurent of Vere is intelligent, beautiful, and dangerously volatile. While serving as a slave, Damen discovers the deadly internal conflict boiling over between Laurent and the Regent of Vere, and falling into the Veretian court's web of poisonous political games begins to seem increasingly inevitable.

Forced to navigate the court in addition to his ruthless, manipulative master, Damen realizes that escaping will not be easy. Especially when he must hide his identity—for he is under the control of the one nation that would hate him more as a prince than a slave.

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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:

  • 100% Adoration Rating: Prince Auguste was beloved by pretty much everybody in Vere, viewed as a golden emblem of national pride.
  • Abusive Parents: While Guion's direct actions towards fourth son Aimeric more closely resemble Parental Neglect, his indirect actions land him firmly in the "abusive" category. He made a deal with the Regent that was essentially "give me more political power and I'll let you rape my youngest son." Aimeric's mother Loyse might count as well, since she knew about all of this and didn't stop it, but her characterization is ambiguous. At the very least, it seems she's reached her limits by the end of the third book, since she's much more upset about Aimeric's suicide than her husband and actively sabotages Guion by publicly revealing his shady dealings.
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  • The Ace: Prince Auguste, Laurent's legendary older brother. He was an insurmountable fighter and leader who inspired both incredible love and loyalty from his people. His death devastated Vere, and Laurent lives in his shadow.
  • Accent Interest: When Laurent speaks Akielon in the second book, Damen notices that he has a pronounced Veretian accent (despite being nearly fluent in the language itself) and finds this endearing. Damen comments on it, and Laurent gets annoyed.
  • A Day in the Limelight: Jord the Prince's Guard, Charls the Veretian cloth merchant, and Ancel the pet each have a short story written from their perspective, providing extra detail to their backstories and to their encounters with Damen and Laurent.
  • After Action Patch Up: After a confrontation with some clansmen, Laurent uses ice to soothe Damen's bruised ribcage. This serves as a Shirtless Scene for Damen, as well as a Ship Tease moment for Damen and Laurent.
  • All Amazons Want Hercules: Vask has a matriarchal warrior society. Vaskian women are typically attracted to strong men and do not understand why others would be drawn to beautiful, androgynous men like Laurent.
  • Ambiguous Situation: It's unclear whether the Regent raping Laurent was a one-time thing, or whether it was part of long-term sexual abuse. Unfortunately, Laurent's complex behaviors regarding intimacy and control seem to imply the latter. This is also supported by subtler indicators: in the second book, it's stated the Regent took Laurent on special trips from the time he was thirteen until he was fourteen or fifteen. (The Regent only sleeps with prepubescent boys. Laurent calls fourteen the age when "the body begins to betray itself" in the first book, and the short story "Green but for a Season" identifies fifteen as the year Laurent hit puberty.)
  • Ambition Is Evil: Kastor and the Regent are both ambitious men who want positions of greater political power, but they do extremely unscrupulous things to achieve this goal. Other unethical characters, such as Guion and Jokaste, are also described as ambitious: in Guion's pursuit of political power, he basically lets the Regent do whatever he wants to his son and ends up indirectly causing his son's suicide as a result. As for Jokaste...well, we all know what she did to Damen, although it's not as straightforward as it seems.
  • Ascetic Aesthetic: Akielos tends towards stark minimalism, in contrast with intricate Veretian ornamentation. When Veretian castles are remodeled in the Akielon style, it just looks bleak, but properly designed Akielon cities are beautiful in a way that even touches Laurent.
  • Assassins Are Always Betrayed: Paschal's brother, the archer Langren, wasn't exactly a Professional Killer. However, the Regent approached him to kill King Aleron at Marlas and make it look like the result of a stray Akielon arrow. Langren was promised a better future for his family as a reward, but the Regent gave him nothing of the sort.
    Paschal: My brother was the archer who killed the King, for which the Regent promised him gold and delivered him death.
  • Attempted Rape: Laurent is about to get sexually assaulted by a clansman when Damen interferes by way of completely losing his shit.
  • Attention Whore: "Pet" reveals that Ancel loves attention and works very hard to make sure everyone is looking at him, whenever possible. At least somewhat justified by the fact that Ancel is an escort, so his livelihood depends on being able to attract and maintain clients.
  • Battle Couple: Damen the Warrior Prince and Laurent the Badass Bookworm.
  • Becoming the Mask: Ancel is Lord Berenger's escort, which means it's his job to feign romantic (or at least sexual) interest. He's shocked when he discovers that his interest is starting to become genuine.
  • Belligerent Sexual Tension: Damen and Laurent's fights—both the physical ones and the mental ones—often toe the line between genuine hostility and suppressed eroticism.
  • Best Friends-in-Law: Laurent theorizes that his lover Damen and his older brother Auguste would have been close friends, if only Akielos and Vere were not enemy nations. (And though it's unclear whether Laurent and Damen are legally married by the end of the trilogy, they are at least romantic life partners connected by some sort of Common Law Marriage.)
  • 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 book, Jord and Aimeric are a rough soldier and a pampered, pretty noble who have an easy, affectionate relationship, which leads to tragedy due to Aimeric's betrayal.
    • In the last book, Pallas and Lazar are an Akielon and Veretian who make an uncomplicated, fun couple who get together based mainly off of physical attraction.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The story ends with the deaths of Damen and Laurent's only remaining relatives, leaving them both without family. But Damen and Laurent do get their personal Happily Ever After as kings of Vere and Akielos—they decide to rule together from the center.
  • Blinded by Rage:
    • In the second book, Govart gets angry during his duel with Laurent, which only makes him more susceptible to Laurent's strategic maneuvers. He ends up injured, stripped of his captainship, and kicked off the camp.
    • In the third book, Damen and Laurent have a sparring match that gets way out of hand because they're both Blinded by Rage at the same time. Damen ends up being a lot rougher than he should with somebody he's supposedly not actually fighting, whereas Laurent starts using everything in the room in an uncharacteristically desperate and emotional attempt to win.
    • Also in the third book, the Regent agrees to "negotiate" with Damen and Laurent at the Kingsmeet, a location that forbids violence. He ends up revealing his sexual abuse of Laurent so that Damen will fly into a rage and, later, reap the consequences.
  • Book Ends:
    • The first book begins in the slave baths in Akielos, with Damen bound by Kastor and listening to bells announcing Kastor's newfound kingship. The third book ends there as well, with Damen bound and the bells ringing—but this time, Damen is bound by Laurent (to save his life), and the bells are announcing Damen's newfound kingship.
    • The events of the plot are kicked off by Damen killing Laurent's brother at Delpha. They are ultimately concluded by Laurent killing Damen's brother in Ios.
  • Bound and Gagged: Happens to both Damen and Laurent when they're attacked by clansmen in the middle of the night.
  • Brains Evil, Brawn Good: A simplified version of the way Akielos sees itself compared to Vere. Akielos prides itself on military prowess and integrity; thus, Vere's tactics of deception and strategic surrender are seen as cowardly and dishonorable. (On the other hand, Vere views Akielos through the Dumb Muscle stereotype.)
  • The Brute: Downplayed with Govart, who works for the Regent and is a strong, large man without much intelligence. While he's certainly a capable fighter, he's no match for Laurent's tactical maneuvers.
  • …But He Sounds Handsome: Played for Laughs when Damianos is traveling undercover as "Lamen." One of his companions shares a story of King Damianos defeating a warrior in minutes, then taking him to bed for six hours, and...
    "Lamen," frowning: Seven hours.
  • But Liquor Is Quicker: It's implied that when Laurent was younger, the Regent may have gotten him drunk so it would be easier to rape him. This adds a darker possibility to why Laurent becomes The Teetotaler.
  • The Captain: Laurent's men cycle through quite a number of captains—Govart, Jord, Damen, and Enguerran—due to a variety of...incidents.
  • Casual Kink: Dominance and submission in sex are a part of Akielon culture. More specifically, Akielon slaves are trained to be extremely passive and subservient during sex, whereas "dominant" sexual behavior is considered a sign of high social status.
  • Category Traitor: Laurent, a member of the Veretian royal family, is accused of being this for sympathizing with Akielos; Damen, a member of the Akielon royal family, is accused of being this for sympathizing with Vere.
  • Caught the Heart on His Sleeve: Early in the second book, Laurent has a rare moment of openly expressing appreciation/admiration for how Damen has helped him in his campaign against his uncle. Feeling awkward from the unexpected intimacy, Damen says he should help repair some armor and tries to leave, but Laurent grabs his arm and tells him in an uncharacteristically gentle voice that he should rest.
  • 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.
    • In Kings Rising, Damen surprises Laurent by making him wear one of his gold slave cuffs, which he had removed and kept at the end of Prince's Gambit.
  • Chekhov's Gunman: Guion's wife Loyse hangs in the background for most of the third book, ostensibly as a hostage to his good behavior. She turns out to deliver the testimony that unseats the Regent.
  • Childhood Friends: Damen and Nikandros have been close since their youth.
  • Coitus Ensues: The second book contains a scene where Damen has sex with an attractive young Vaskian woman named Kashel—and several other Vaskian women afterwards. This is completely irrelevant to the plot. (Laurent's negotiations with the Vaskians could be considered important, but they happen off-screen, while Damen's simultaneous endeavors are described in considerable detail.)
  • Coitus Uninterruptus: Vere doesn't have a taboo about public sex. This gives Damen a jolt of culture shock when Laurent nonchalantly allows someone into their bedroom while they're in the middle of the act.
  • Color-Coded for Your Convenience: Red for Akielons, and blue for Veretians. The lines start blurring, though: red is also used to represent the Regent while blue represents Laurent, and the Regent starts making moves to take Akielos' throne for himself.
  • Common Law Marriage: Possibly. While gay sex is very normal in this setting, it's unclear whether gay marriage is an established institution. At the end of the trilogy, Damen and Laurent live together as a couple, and their vacation in "The Summer Palace" is treated like a honeymoon. However, we don't really know if they're legally married.
  • Confronting Your Imposter: In the third book, Charls the cloth merchant comes out to see what impostor has been using his name and reputation. Zig-zagged when he realizes it's Laurent and abruptly starts playing along.
  • Conspicuous Consumption: One of the greatest shows of wealth in the Veretian court is to contract a high-class escort "pet," decked out in the most luxurious clothes and jewels the patron can afford. Their sexual services are almost secondary to their role as a status symbol.
  • Cool Big Bro: What Auguste seems to have been for Laurent. He was an extraordinary fighter, an exceptional leader, and an honorable, good-hearted person. He was also deeply dedicated to his younger brother.
  • Cool-Down Hug: In the last book, Damen sits alone, finally processing the grief he did not allow himself to feel over his father's death. Laurent walks straight into the room and hugs him as a comforting, sympathetic gesture.
    Laurent: I know what it's like to lose family.
  • Covert Pervert: Berenger shows absolutely no interest in sex, even when his escort Ancel puts strenuous effort into trying to seduce him. It quickly becomes clear that Berenger became Ancel's client to meet the expectations of the Veretian court, not because he's actually interested in Ancel's services. However, when Ancel breaks down and frustratedly mentions that his usual tactics don't work on Berenger...Berenger reveals that this isn't quite true, and he has indeed wanted Ancel back the whole time.
  • Cruel Mercy: Laurent invokes this to prevent Damen from being executed; he argues that "fast death doesn't hurt" so Damen will actually be given time to fight back.
  • Death by Origin Story: Laurent's older brother Auguste died years before the beginning of the trilogy. His death set in stone Laurent's feelings towards Akielos and mission of revenge against Prince Damianos.
  • Death by Childbirth: It was originally believed that Queen Egeria of Akielos could not carry a child to term. When she was finally able to give birth to Damen, she died in the process.
  • Decadent Court: The Veretian court has plenty of political intrigue, forbidden romance, sexual slavery, and pedophilia. In the first book, Vere is described as "voluptuous and decadent," a "country of honeyed poison."
  • Diamonds in the Buff: Veretian pets are often dressed very scantily, with the majority of their "clothing" consisting of jewels meant to display their masters' wealth.
  • Did You Just Have Sex?: Laurent's men see Damen and him sneak back to their quarters through a secret passage at night, with Damen looking blissed-out and tired, and draw the obvious conclusion. In a twist, Damen was having sex, just not with Laurent. Laurent reminds him to bathe the next morning.
  • Dirty Old Man: Guion is in his late forties, but the first book has him privately planning to sleep with a young Akielon Sex Slave, described as “a demure youth with a beautifully slender waist and heavily lashed dark eyes.”
  • Disappointed in You: The Regent always talks about how unfortunate it is that Laurent is unfit for the throne, having grown up to be reckless, immature, and irresponsible. Of course, it's all an act—the Regent isn't disappointed. He does this in order to tarnish Laurent's public image while elevating his own, since he intends to become The Usurper.
  • Disapproving Look: Nikandros dons this expression whenever he thinks Damen is making an unwise decision influenced by his romantic/sexual interest in Laurent.
  • Doting Parent: King Aleron doted on Auguste, although he didn't pay much attention to Laurent.
  • Double-Meaning Title: "Captive Prince" refers most obviously to Damen, a prince usurped by his half-brother and forced to become a Sex Slave in an enemy nation. However, it also refers to his master Laurent, who is a "captive" of his country's Decadent Court, his Dark and Troubled Past, and his Manipulative Bastard uncle.
  • Dramatic Irony: Very appropriately, considering Akielon culture is based on Ancient Greece: the reader likely picks up on hints that Laurent was raped by his uncle long before Damen does.
  • Driven to Suicide: It's implied that one of the Regent's preferred outcomes may have been Laurent sleeping with Damen, then killing himself after realizing he slept with his brother's killer.
  • Dumb Muscle:
    • Veretians believe this about Akielons, who are (in their minds) simple-minded barbarians with no true skills other than destruction.
    • Govart is strong, but he isn't smart enough to win a fight against someone who uses complex strategy against him.
  • Earn Your Happy Ending: Damen and Laurent are forced to overcome war, betrayal, and their own prejudices throughout the course of the series. It's hell, but they do get their Happily Ever After.
  • Elite Man–Courtesan Romance: The short story "Pet" focuses on the burgeoning relationship between Lord Berenger and his High-Class Call Boy Ancel.
  • Enemy Mine: At the end of the first book, Laurent and Damen still hate each other, but it's become terrifyingly clear how dangerous the Regent is. Realizing neither of them may be able to defeat him alone, they force themselves to start working together.
  • Erotic Eating: Damen mentions that pets often allow their masters to feed them and intentionally turn the ordeal into something sensual. While disguised as a pet himself, Laurent employs this in a rather small way, letting his lips brush against Damen's hand.
  • Ethical Slut: Ancel is an ambitious high-class escort who works very hard to entice increasingly wealthy clients. However, he refuses to expose the political dealings of his current client (Berenger) in "Pet"—even when confronted with the possibility of receiving a better contract in return.
  • Even Evil Has Loved Ones: Guion feels no guilt about repeatedly switching sides for his personal gain, and as it is, his actions are pretty unforgivable. However, he does show a brief moment of genuine emotion when accusing Laurent of causing his son's suicide. The example is still downplayed, because this is the only time Guion seems at all concerned by what happened, and he conveniently ignores that he could be considered responsible for most of the circumstances leading up to Aimeric's death.
  • 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 Can See It: Laurent, who's well-known for being cold and guarded, is so much more at ease around Damen in the second book that his men assume they're sleeping together for weeks before their actual Relationship Upgrade.
  • Everyone Is Bi: In this trilogy's world, everyone is expected to be bisexual. Rarely, there will be a character who's exclusively straight or gay (for example, Laurent is gay).
  • Everyone Loves Blondes: Laurent (a blond Pretty Boy) and Jokaste (a beautiful blonde woman) are portrayed as the most desirable characters in the series. To be fair, the trilogy is told through Damen's eyes and Damen has a thing for blonds, but it's also noted that blonds are considered especially attractive in Akielos and Patras because they are rare.
  • Exiled to the Couch: Damen jokes about this in the second book, noticing Laurent's discomfort with their newfound physical and emotional intimacy.
    Damen: Going to banish me to sleep at the foot of your bed? I wish you wouldn’t, it’s quite far away.
  • Expy: Laurent and Damen are very similar to Griffith and Guts from Berserk. The author has confirmed that Griffith was a major inspiration in the creation of Laurent.
  • Extreme Doormat: Erasmus claims that he's submissive by nature, and it's simply in his temperament to crave a master. He implies this is the case even beyond his training as an Akielon bed slave. His almost absurdly self-effacing behavior certainly supports the idea. While Damen and Torveld find Erasmus's passivity endearing, Ancel finds it infuriating (as revealed in "Pet").
  • Face Palm: Nikandros does this once or twice. Not surprising, considering he spends much of the last book exasperated by Damen's questionable faith in Laurent.
    Nikandros held his gaze, then let out a breath and passed his hand over his face, massaging it briefly.
  • A Family Affair: Damen's lover Jokaste had an affair with his half-brother, Kastor.
  • Family Eye Resemblance: The only physical features shared between the Regent and Laurent are their blue eyes.
  • Fantastic Drug:
    • Chalis relaxes you, but it also makes you tired and slows down your body's responses. Laurent drugs Damen with this in hopes that it will make him lose a display fight.
    • At the end of the first book, Laurent accidentally ingests an Akielon drug that was combined with his drink. While the exact effects are a little ambiguous, Damen's explanation essentially amounts to "it makes you very, very horny." Interestingly, Laurent is already familiar with the drug and has such intense self-control that he's able to resist it somewhat, which becomes dark when we find out about his Rape as Backstory.
  • Fantasy Counterpart Culture: Akielos is based on Ancient Greece, while Vere is based on France.
  • Fantasy World Map: Each book begins with a map of significant locations. The countries given the most detail are (naturally) Akielos and Vere, but some other nations are listed as well, such as Vask and Patras.
  • Favors for the Sexy: When Damen gives Delpha to Laurent, Nikandros is afraid that it's for this reason.
  • Fiery Redhead: Ancel is bold, ambitious, and extroverted, but he's normally held back from fitting this trope entirely—he puts on a show of being charming and seductive to attract new clients. However, when he drops the act and speaks honestly, he can complete the archetype by being rather short-tempered and blunt.
  • First Kiss: Damen and Laurent kiss for the first time on the battlements of Ravenel.
  • Flashback Echo: The trilogy ends with Laurent fighting Damen's older brother, Kastor. As he watches, Damen is overwhelmed by memories of fighting Laurent's older brother, Auguste. The parallels—initially younger prince of Akielos vs. older prince of Vere, now younger prince of Vere vs. older prince of Akielos—terrify him, because he does not want Laurent to die. Luckily, Laurent defies the possibility of mimicking his brother's legacy and successfully defeats Kastor.
  • Flowers of Romance: "The Summer Palace" features Damen and Laurent tucking flowers into each other's hair to represent the official courtship they never got to experience.
  • Foe Romance Subtext: Even when they still hate each other, Damen is put off by how attracted he is to Laurent.
  • Foolish Sibling, Responsible Sibling: It initially appears that Prince Laurent and his late brother, Prince Auguste, fit this dynamic. Laurent is spoiled, rebellious, and selfish; Auguste was a brave protector of his people. In reality, this is all a part of the Regent manipulating the family's public imageLaurent is actually anything but foolish and has repeatedly been pushed into impossible political dilemmas.
  • Foil: Damen and Laurent directly contrast one another in a number of ways. Damen's physical appearance is tall and strong, with dark hair, dark eyes, and olive skin; Laurent has a more slender build with blond hair, blue eyes, and very fair skin. Damen strongly believes that all conflicts should be fought fairly; Laurent's main mode of winning conflicts is through manipulation. Damen trusts too easily; Laurent doesn't trust anyone. Damen's older brother Kastor has an Inferiority Superiority Complex because of him; Laurent has an Inferiority Superiority Complex himself surrounding his late older brother, Auguste. Damen Really Gets Around; it's rumored that Laurent is frigid, and even when we find out he's not, it turns out he's only slept with one person before Damen. And the one person raped him.
  • Friend Versus Lover: Downplayed. Nikandros (the friend) and Laurent (the lover) aren't particularly possessive over Damen, but they certainly don't get along with each other, and each one fights to have a stronger influence over Damen. Also worth noting that this is somewhat justified on Nikandros's side—he's concerned by Laurent's cunning nature and the fact that he's the prince of what has long been their enemy nation. And...Laurent seems to delight in irritating Nikandros on purpose.
  • Garden of Love: In the Summer Palace epilogue/short story, Damen and Laurent finally have the free time to visit Damen's summer palace, an oceanside estate that's open to many gardens and outdoor baths. They have a tender tryst outside and start to come to terms with the pain they caused each other when they were enemies.
  • Good Cannot Comprehend Evil: Laurent describes Auguste as a person who was not naturally deceptive and, as such, could not understand when or why others were taking advantage of him.
  • Hair-Trigger Temper: Orlant can be provoked into a physical fight very easily, whereas Aimeric often starts verbal fights that end up escalating into physical fights. Obviously, things do not go well when these two end up fighting each other.
  • Happiness in Slavery:
    • Erasmus, Type 3, who was apparently chosen to be a slave because of his submissive tendencies. He claims it's simply in his nature to long for a master. While he obviously isn't happy when he's mistreated in Vere, he becomes content again once he's under the care of Torveld.
    • 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.
  • Harmful to Minors: Laurent remarks that the life of a pet can have damning psychological consequences when experienced by a child (such as Nicaise).
  • Hate at First Sight: It takes Damen and Laurent very little time to start hating each other. Justified on Laurent's end, because he immediately recognizes Damen as the man who killed his brother. As for Damen, he simply examines Laurent's arrogant expression and determines that he must be a Royal Brat (after a split second of observing that Laurent is very much his type).
  • Heir Club for Men: Damen brings up the possibility of Laurent marrying a "Patran princess or daughter of the Empire" for political reasons, adding that it's his duty to produce an heir. Laurent replies (in indirect language) that he has never planned to marry a woman. He ultimately decides to spend the rest of his life with Damen at the end of the trilogy.
  • He Is Not My Boyfriend: Before their Relationship Upgrade late in the second book, Damen and Laurent spend a lot of time denying that they're lovers.
  • He Knows Too Much: The Regent gives Govart pretty much anything he wants (money, Hookers and Blow, etc.), and nobody is sure why. In the last book, it's revealed that Govart has written proof that the Regent had King Aleron killed, and the Regent's "gifts" are the price for keeping him silent.
  • Held Gaze: Laurent and Damen stare at each other a lot. In the beginning, it's often to express spite, and so it falls into the "antagonistic" category. As their feelings for each other develop, it slowly slips into the "romantic" type instead.
  • Heroes Prefer Swords: Main characters Damen and Laurent are Master Swordsmen.
  • High-Class Call Girl: In Vere, "pets" are escorts who work for individuals of considerable status. Specific examples include characters like Ancel and Nicaise.
  • Hookers and Blow: The courtiers of Vere indulge themselves in drugs, alcohol, and prostitutes (called "pets").
  • Hopeless Suitor: Torveld develops a strong interest in Laurent after spending a few hours with him, but Laurent isn't even slightly interested. Actually, pretty much anyone's attraction to Laurent is guaranteed to be hopeless, unless they're Damen.
  • I Have You Now, My Pretty: When the clansmen corner Damen and Laurent, one of them approaches Laurent in a menacing manner that suggests he's about to strike. Then he gets too close to strike, and he instead runs a hand slowly across Laurent's body. Damen realizes what's about to happen and attacks him.
  • I Kiss Your Foot: Akielon slaves often kiss their master's foot to show that they're devoted and submissive. Damen forces himself to push past several layers of pride and do this to Laurent in the first book.
  • Inevitable Mutual Betrayal: Subverted. Damen and Laurent initially think of their arrangement this way, assuming that at some point after Damen retakes the Akielon throne, their countries will end up at war. But it turns out they fall in love and form a permanent alliance instead.
  • Innocent Cohabitation: In the second book, Damen and Laurent sleep in the same tent (and, in one specific instance, the same bed). But they're not romantically or sexually involved, despite Damen's status as Laurent's Sex Slave and the growing tension between them. When they finally resolve the tension, the cohabitation stops being innocent.
  • Instantly Proven Wrong: Apparently, Torveld told his advisors that he was too old to get distracted by beautiful young men. Cue Torveld instantly becoming smitten with Laurent while attending Vere's court. And when he realizes that's not going to work out for him, he quickly shifts his attentions to Erasmus. Wrong, indeed.
  • Interrupted Intimacy: Pallas walks in on Damen and Laurent in the last book, although it's partially Laurent's fault, since Laurent outright told him to come in.
  • Intimate Psychotherapy: Unbeknownst to Damen, his sexual encounters with Laurent were this. After being raped by his uncle when he was thirteen, Laurent shut himself away emotionally to survive the Regent's mind games and schemes to take the throne. When Laurent had sex with Damen, it was first time anyone had shown him genuine tenderness and pleasure, helping him heal some of his past scars and learn to trust another person.
  • Irony: In the second book, a dying Akielon soldier remarks that Damianos should have been the king of Akielos, not Kastor. His reasoning is that Damianos knew Veretians were liars and deceivers, and so he would never have "climbed into their beds" like Kastor did. In a broader sense, this is ironic because Damen also ends up allying with Vere, and in fact develops a much more personal and amiable relationship with them than Kastor ever does. (The trilogy ends with him basically marrying the prince of Vere and deciding that they will rule their kingdoms together.) In a more specific sense, this is ironic because Damen sleeps with the prince of Vere ("climbing into Vere's bed") a few chapters later.
  • It Meant Something to Me: After they sleep together in Ravenel, Damen and Laurent end up arguing about what it meant. Damen believes it was a product of the genuine love and lust between them; Laurent insists he only went along with it to gain an emotional advantage. Damen doesn't buy this, remembering Laurent's apparent vulnerability and desire. Luckily, he turns out to be right: after a long while of denial and mixed messages, Laurent confirms that he reciprocates Damen's feelings.
  • Just Following Orders: Adrastus, the Akielon Keeper of the Royal Slaves, uses this as his defense when he assists with enslaving his own prince. (His orders are coming from the other prince.)
  • King Incognito:
    • Damen hides his identity when he's made a slave, since an Akielon royal would be as good as dead in a Veretian court. Unfortunately, both the Regent and Laurent knew who he was from the start.
    • Damen and Laurent both go undercover to avoid the Regent's agents and Akielon soldiers, including one memorable occasion when Laurent pretends to be a prostitute.
    • Played for Laughs in "The Adventures of Charls, the Veretian Cloth Merchant" when Damen and Laurent travel incognito with Charls. Charls knows Laurent's true identity but not Damen's, so his efforts to protect Laurent's dignity usually come at Damen's expense.
  • Lap Pillow: In "The Training of Erasmus," Kallias rests his head in Erasmus's lap.
  • Law of Inverse Fertility: King Theomedes and Queen Egeria try many times to produce a legitimate heir to the Akielon throne, only for each attempt to end in a miscarriage. Eventually subverted, as Egeria gives birth to Damen at the cost of her own life.
  • Leaning on the Furniture: When Laurent and Damen reunite at a fraught time in their relationship, Laurent is casually leaning against a tent pole and delivers a cold, "Hello, lover." Damen quickly notices that Laurent carefully invoked the trope to hide an injury.
  • Loincloth: This seems to be common attire for slaves, and it's explicitly mentioned that Vaskian men wear nothing else.
  • Long-Haired Pretty Boy: How Ancel the pet is described—long red hair, green eyes, prettiness exacerbated by his fancy attire and his own mannerisms.
  • Low Fantasy: The books are set in a Constructed World but aside from that there are no other fantasy elements such as magic, with the plots being centered around politics and romance.
  • Man in a Kilt: Akielos is based on Ancient Greece, and it's traditional in Akielos for men to wear skirts.
  • Masculine–Feminine Gay Couple: Zig-zagged with Damen and Laurent. Physically, they fit the mold: Damen is tall and muscular, while Laurent is slighter of build with an elegant, androgynous appearance. They also fit masculine/feminine stereotypes in that Damen is a Warrior Prince with enormous strength and sexual prowess, whereas Laurent is less interested in military affairs, possesses combat skills mostly related to his intelligence, and is very sexually inexperienced. However, the roles are somewhat switched when it comes to their personalities, with Laurent as the stoic, domineering one and Damen as the more sensitive and romantic one.
  • Massage of Love: Damen gives Laurent a shoulder massage. The fact that Laurent even allows him to do this signifies the increasing trust and intimacy of their relationship.
  • Master Swordsman: It's probably easier to say who in the cast isn't. Of particular note are Damen, Laurent, Kastor, and potentially some of Laurent's men (such as Jord).
  • Mirror Character: Damen and Laurent serve as both this and Foils. In the beginning, they're introduced with their differences accentuated. However, by the end of the series, it's apparent that they have quite a bit in common. They are rightful heirs to a throne (Akielos and Vere); a family member they trusted (Kastor and the Regent) kills their father (Theomedes and Aleron) and usurps them so they can take the throne themself; the aforementioned relative attempts to kill them as well by involving them with the opposing nation; by the end of the trilogy, they are both orphans because they were forced to kill their only remaining relative in order to survive.
  • Missing Mom: For a plot line where succession, the royal family, and bloodlines are important, no one seems to have mothers.
    • Damen's mother died in childbirth, but there are statues of her in the palace and the gardens she designed. This allows for a heartwarming moment where Laurent asks her permission to court Damen.
    • Laurent's mother died six years before the beginning of the trilogy, and her death marked the loss of Vere's alliance with Kempt. Akielos saw this as an opportunity to invade, leading eventually to the battle at Marlas, which kicks off the story.
  • The Missus and the Ex: Damen's First Love Jokaste and Second Love Laurent meet in the third book. Damen notes that they are disturbingly similar, and since this is true, they spend most of their time making opaque remarks in an attempt to manipulate each other.
  • The Mistress: Kastor's mother Hypermenestra was this to Theomedes. It's not considered scandalous, however, because it's openly known that Theomedes was genuinely in love with her and his marriage to Queen Egeria was purely political.
  • Moment Killer: Damen and Laurent are in the middle of their First Kiss when Jord and Guymar interrupt them, saying that some of Laurent's men are about to make sport with Aimeric.
  • More Experienced Chases the Innocent: Damen is a Sex God who Really Gets Around. Laurent is rumored to be a virgin, and while the rumors are not true, he has only had sex one time. The trope is played with a bit, though, because Laurent's "innocence" isn't why Damen is attracted to him, and their demeanors don't necessarily fit the corresponding stereotypes.
  • Never My Fault: When Aimeric commits suicide, Guion blames it on Laurent. He completely refuses to acknowledge that his political dealings traumatized his son, and that he threw his son directly into the path of a man (the Regent) who he knew was ruthless and unethical.
  • Nobody Thinks It Will Work: Damen and Laurent have a complicated history. They're the princes of enemy nations, Damen killed Laurent's older brother when their countries were at war, Laurent kept Damen as a Sex Slave...no surprise that everyone else is extremely skeptical of how being lovers could possibly work for them. Except that it does, and by the end of the trilogy they're essentially married.
  • No Heterosexual Sex Allowed: In Vere, having an illegitimate child is highly stigmatized. As such, premarital homosexual relations are the norm, whereas heterosexual sex outside of marriage can be a career-ending misstep.
  • Official Couple: Damen and Laurent sleep together in Prince's Gambit and finally become a stable couple in Kings Rising.
  • Older than They Look: Ancel is implied to look slightly younger than his actual age. (He's twenty. He tries to say he's sixteen in "Pet," but can't get away with it; still, Damen assumes he's eighteen in the main trilogy.)
  • Omniglot: Downplayed. It's mentioned that Akielon slaves are schooled in various languages, although Veretian isn't one of them.
  • One-Steve Limit: Played for Laughs in the third book, when Laurent is masquerading as the cloth merchant Charls, and ends up running into the real Charls. Luckily, the real Charls plays along and claims they're cousins named after their grandfather.
  • The Only One I Trust: You can't blame Laurent for having trust issues, considering he's surrounded by a Decadent Court and the only living member of his family keeps trying to either destroy or end his life. He is shocked, confused, and infuriated when Damen, the man who killed his brother, turns out to be one of the only truly trustworthy people in his life. (He's also in love with Damen because of this, but it takes him quite a while to come to terms with it.)
  • Only Sane Man: Downplayed, since calling every other character insane is a stretch, but Jord and Nikandros fulfill this role in their respective factions.
    • Jord is a standard commander whose military strategies are straightforward and avoid bloodshed as much as possible. He serves Laurent, a rather unethical and occasionally even sadistic prince who handles conflict through mind games.
    • Nikandros is Damen's rational, responsible childhood friend. He is reasonably concerned that Damen has fallen in love twice with people who are very capable of manipulating him. Especially since Damen is the king of their country. And his current lover is the prince of their enemy nation.
  • Opposites Attract: Damen and Laurent are complete opposites in terms of physical appearance, but they are also very different in terms of personality. Damen is open, honest, and overall a rather pleasant person. Laurent is closed-off, manipulative, and highly unapproachable. The trilogy follows them as they progress from hostility to love and trust.
  • Outliving One's Offspring: Aleron outlives his eldest son, Prince Auguste...for a very short period of time.
  • Out of Focus: Jord is one of the few soldiers Damen is already familiar with by the end of the first book, and he serves as The Captain of Laurent's men for most of the second book. As such, he has a relatively important role for much of the trilogy. However, because Damen eventually comes to lead his own men, the third and final book barely even mentions Jord. One could argue that Nikandros, the most relevant member of Damen's faction, takes over his role in the story.
  • Parental Favoritism:
    • Downplayed in the case of Auguste and Laurent. King Aleron had no bad blood with Laurent, but of his two sons, he understood Auguste better and was more affectionate towards him. His reaction to Auguste's death also subtly implies the favoritism—see A Tragedy of Impulsiveness below.
    • Kastor claims that Theomedes preferred Damen over him, and while Damen states multiple times that Theomedes loved Kastor, he also doesn't deny this claim.
  • Parents as People: King Theomedes of Akielos and King Aleron of Vere are portrayed as decent but flawed people, both accused of Parental Favoritism (with Kastor and Laurent being The Unfavorites).
    • Theomedes was a stubborn, prideful man whose love for his country also translated into prejudice against Vere and an aggressive determination to expand his country's borders. He also didn't seem to recognize the problem he would cause when he took the right to the throne away from Kastor upon the birth of Damen, his legitimate son.
    • Not much is known about Aleron, but it's said he understood talent on the battlefield more than he understood intellectual pursuits. Because of this, he ended up doting on his Warrior Prince older son while acting slightly neglectful towards his Bookworm younger son.
  • Parental Neglect:
    • Paschal says that Aleron did not pay a lot of attention to Laurent, especially in comparison to his highly affectionate behavior towards Auguste.
    • It's implied that Aimeric's parents, especially his father, pay little attention to him because he's the youngest of their four sons.
  • Plot-Triggering Death: Two.
    • Damen kills Auguste six years before the start of the story. This pushes both the Regent and Laurent into power, as well as solidifying the animosity Laurent feels towards both Damen and Akielos in general.
    • King Theomedes dies at the very beginning of the story. His death triggers the start of Kastor's violent coup, which removes Damen from power by capturing him and sending him as a slave to Laurent.
  • Politically Incorrect Villain: Guion openly dehumanizes Akielons and calls their country "barbaric."
  • Polyamory: The standard in Akielos, at least for those of notable social status. This is due to the existence of Sex Slaves, Royal Harems, and just a general expectation that the royal family in particular will have expansive sexual appetites.
  • Porn with Plot: The trilogy is mostly plot, but all the books are quite graphic, and sex scenes are always described in great detail. The first (consensual) sex scene is more than twenty pages.
  • Posthumous Character: Auguste died several years before the beginning of the trilogy, but he is mentioned frequently by various characters, and one of the main characters is his younger brother.
  • Powerful People Are Subs: Suggested with regards to Lady Vannes when Damen meets her pet, Talik.
    Damen recalled someone saying that Vannes liked pets who could sweep the ring competitions. Talik was almost as tall as Damen, her bare arms well muscled. [...] Damen had assumed that pets, like slaves, were sexually submissive to their masters, as was the custom in Akielos. But he could only guess at the arrangements between Vannes and this woman in bed.
  • Power is Sexy: Akielon bed slaves are trained to be submissive and crave a dominant, powerful presence in their life. In "The Training of Erasmus," the titular character is a bed slave who's highly submissive by nature and has extremely strong desires for more powerful men.
  • Practically Different Generations: Auguste was between eleven and twelve years older than his brother Laurent. (The exact age difference is unclear because we don't know the timing of Auguste's birthday.)
  • Pretty Boy: Quite a few.
    • 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 so on, 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.
    • The pet Ancel, the Sex Slave Erasmus, and the aristocrat Aimeric are all described as pretty.
  • Prince Charming: Auguste seems like he fit this trope quite well, being a responsible, brave, and charismatic prince who was beloved by everyone.
  • Princeling Rivalry: Kastor is not happy that he was supposed to inherit the throne, only to lose his position as the heir when his father was finally able to have a legitimate child. As a result, he becomes an Evil Prince plotting to overthrow and/or kill his half-brother Damen. Damen himself is unaware of (or rather, refuses to believe in) the existence of the rivalry, because he loves Kastor.
  • Proud Warrior Race Guy:
    • The whole culture of Akielos can be summed up into this, heavily emphasizing honorable combat. This leaves the Veretians completely confused when an Akielon leader warns an enemy army of an impending attack for reasons of honour.
    • A more specific example is King Theomedes. Damen describes his father as a prideful, opinionated man who "ruled by the sword" and was more than pleased to fight for his country's glory.
    • Another specific example is the Akielon general Makedon. He is stubborn, strong-willed, and somewhat war-hungry. He also looks down on Veretians (especially Laurent) for being cunning, perceiving this trait as proof that Veretians are too cowardly to fight directly or fairly.
  • Relationship Upgrade: The second book contains Damen and Laurent's First Kiss, as well as Their First Time. Their relationship remains in a bit of a complicated place until partway through the third book, though.
  • The Reveal: Plenty in the third book, including many that might be somewhat obvious to the audience but not to the narrator. This correlates with Damen's inability to easily detect deception 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, goading Damen into attacking him.
    • The true extent of the Regent's plots are all revealed in Laurent's completely unfair trial. One of the biggest revelations: King Aleron was thought to have been killed by a stray Akielon arrow during the same battle that killed Auguste, but in reality, the Regent coordinated the attack with someone from their own faction.
  • Rigged Spectacle Fight: After Damen is first enslaved, Laurent has him dosed with recreational drugs and forced into a wrestling match with a soldier, hoping for him to suffer a traumatic defeat. Damen wins. The cruel act is much later revealed to have happened because Laurent recognized Damen as the man who killed his brother in battle.
  • Romantic Fake–Real Turn: In the short story "Pet," Ancel is a High-Class Call Boy, and Berenger is a lord who needs a pet to bring to court, for the sake of his image. Since it's a part of his job, Ancel spends a lot of time trying to entice Berenger despite his own disinterest, but Berenger doesn't even try to hide his apathy. Things get more complicated when Ancel starts becoming genuinely attracted to Berenger. He remains in denial about it until the end of the story, when Berenger reveals his feelings are returned, and they decide to stay together.
  • Romantic Ribbing: Damen and Laurent slowly progress from genuine hostility to Belligerent Sexual Tension and then to playful, affectionate banter.
  • Romantic Ride Sharing: The second book includes a scene where Damen and Laurent have to share a horse, with Laurent holding Damen's midsection from behind. Damen justifies this part by explaining that the closer the two riders sit to one another, the easier it is for the horse to carry their weight.
  • Romantic Spoonfeeding: Happens twice, though both times there's no spoon involved:
    • When Laurent is disguised as a pet, Damen hand-feeds him bread. While Laurent initially avoids the sensuality pets are known for, he eventually allows his lips to brush against Damen's fingers. Much to Damen's own frustration, he gets aroused by this, even knowing that Laurent is acting.
    • After taking over Ravenel, Damen allows Laurent to hand-feed him. Laurent enjoys the rare display of obedience, and they both enjoy the small but unusual moment of intimacy. Worth noting that this happens shortly before their First Kiss.
  • Royal Harem: A bit ambiguous, but this appears to exist in some form in both Akielos and Vere. In Akielos, the royal family has specially-trained pleasure slaves living in their household. In Vere, there are special residences in the palace designed for the royal family's pets.
  • 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: This is an established institution in Akielos. If you're an individual of any notable rank, you likely have pleasure slaves in your household. Akielon slaves are trained to be extremely submissive and behave with perfect etiquette; in return, it's expected that their masters treat them well. This is mostly shown through Erasmus in the trilogy.
  • Shipper on Deck: A few of Laurent's men (such as Lazar) seem to support Damen/Laurent, until they find out Damen is Prince Damianos of Akielos. In the short story "The Adventures of Charls, the Veretian Cloth Merchant," Guilliame and Alexon entertain themselves by speculating and gossiping about Prince Laurent's relationship with King Damianos, which is now public knowledge.
  • Shipping Torpedo:
    • In the second book, Jord is highly opposed to Damen's relationship with Laurent. He finds out Damen's true identity before anyone else (or at least it seems that way), and he assumes that Damen is playing a cruel game with Laurent, cultivating his affections only to eventually break him by revealing who he is. Even after Jord realizes that this is not something Damen would do, he still asserts that Damen is being selfish, because The Reveal will hurt Laurent anyway.
    • In the third book, Nikandros actively discourages Damen from pursuing Laurent. He's opposed to their relationship because he assumes that Laurent will manipulate Damen for his own means. "The Summer Palace" does imply that over time, his hostility towards Laurent lessens and he accepts their relationship.
  • Sibling Yin-Yang: Auguste was the pride and joy of Vere—an extremely talented and honorable Warrior Prince who inspired loyalty through his charisma. Others' descriptions frequently associate him with gold, or just "brightness" in general. His younger brother Laurent is a reclusive, manipulative Badass Bookworm who inspires loyalty primarily through fear. In contrast to Auguste, Laurent is typically associated with dark blue and other dark colors.
  • Significant Green-Eyed Redhead: Downplayed, as green-eyed redhead Ancel isn't actually that significant, but he is the only pet other than Nicaise to get a somewhat relevant role in the first book.
  • Slipping a Mickey: At the end of the first book, Laurent accidentally drinks from a glass of water that has been drugged. Due to the specific effects of the drug (see the second entry under Fantastic Drug above), Damen determines that Laurent's attackers intended to rape and then kill him.
  • Snark-to-Snark Combat:
  • Social Climber: Laurent notes that most pets come from poor backgrounds that severely limit their options, so although they are ultimately still prostitutes, the high-class pets of Vere's court did technically rise in rank. Their livelihood is lavishly supported by their masters' wealth. The short story "Pet" provides Ancel as a more specific example of this: he started out a poor young prostitute in a brothel, but gradually worked his way up until he was making contracts with aristocrats as an escort.
  • Spoiled Brat: The pets in Vere are cherished for acting teasingly bratty at court and with their masters. This is noted to be a stark contrast with Akielon slaves, who are expected to behave with perfectly polite and submissive conduct.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Damen and Laurent are the crown princes of two kingdoms that loathe each other. Damen killed Laurent’s beloved brother, while Laurent knew of and took glee in the arranged murder of Damen's father, as well as his household. In Kings Rising, the Akielons find the very notion of the two being lovers outrageous. Zig-zagged at the climax when Damen publicly defends their relationship.
  • Suspiciously Specific Denial: Damen spends a long time denying that he has feelings for Laurent and making up other explanations for his actions. For example: everyone wants to sleep with Laurent, so Damen's lust for Laurent is nothing more than a standard reaction of the body. And Damen may automatically spring into action whenever Laurent is in danger, but so what? What decent person would just sit and watch him get hurt? Funnily enough, Damen completely abandons his denial the moment Laurent openly returns his affections.
  • Sympathetic Slave Owner:
    • Slavery is a respected institution in Akielos, with slaves elevating obedience to a high art and owners expected to provide perfect treatment and care. As prince, Damen exemplified that ideal and was highly thought of for his use of Sex Slaves—even by the slaves. After being Made a Slave and regaining his freedom, he comes to question the institution and takes steps towards ending it.
    • Erasmus the pleasure slave and Prince Torveld of Patras represent the "ideal" master-slave relationship. They fall head over heels for each other at first meeting, both are happy for Torveld to become Erasmus' owner, and they end up as the Beta Couple of the first book.
  • Teeth-Clenched Teamwork: Laurent and Damen starting from the end of the first book, when they realize they need each other to prevent the Regent from taking over Vere and Akielos. Their teamwork does get less teeth-clenched as they start to fall in love, but things remain pretty dicey until the second half of the third book.
  • Their First Time: In Prince's Gambit, Damen and Laurent have their First Kiss, then sleep together for the first time later that same night.
  • They Do: The third book ends with Damen and Laurent having conquered their enemies and embraced their relationship. They decide to rule Akielos and Vere together from a palace on the border, and their happy future is given a spotlight in the short story "The Summer Palace."
  • There Is Only One Bed: The second time they stay with the Vaskians, Damen and Laurent are only given one bed. This is presumably because Damen is known to be Laurent's Sex Slave, and in contrast to their first stay, Damen declines to serve at the coupling fire.
  • A Tragedy of Impulsiveness: The news of Auguste's death blinded King Aleron with grief, and he pulled off his helm in the midst of battle. As a result, he was shot in the throat with an arrow, and control of his country passed to his Manipulative Bastard brother. It's possible this was partially suicidal in addition to impulsive, as Paschal theorizes that Aleron felt he "had no reason left to be careful" (although one would think his other son should count as a reason).
  • Tragic Keepsake: After Damen is declared dead, Nikandros steals one of the royal lion pins, keeping it as a reminder of his late friend. Subverted when Damen returns to Akielos and Nikandros realizes he never died to begin with.
  • Training from Hell: In the second book, Laurent puts his men through a merciless training regimen that completely exhausts all of them. Damen remarks that by the end of each day, they're too tired to even complain.
  • Undercover as Lovers: In Prince's Gambit, Damen and Laurent go to Nesson disguised as a nobleman and his pet. Of course, this is before their actual Relationship Upgrade occurs later in the book.
  • Unequal Pairing: Several couples count.
    • Initially, Laurent and Damen (a prince and his Sex Slave). They become an equal pairing once Laurent frees Damen and Damen regains his position as the prince of Akielos. By the end of the story, they're both kings intent on ruling their countries together.
    • Prince Torveld of Patras and his Sex Slave Erasmus are the Beta Couple of the first book. (By default, any of the Sex Slaves and their masters would be an Unequal Pairing.)
    • The aristocrat Berenger and his escort Ancel are a real couple by the end of the short story "Pet," even though this means Berenger is still paying for Ancel's livelihood/services. Berenger does lampshade it a bit by saying that he can't expect Ancel to stay with him if he loses his fortune. Ancel insists he'll stay with him as long as he can, and realizes that this is the first relationship he's ever been in that was genuine, and not solely for money.
  • The Unfettered: Everything Guion does is for the sake of political power, and he doesn't really care who he has to betray in order to get it. While he does show brief anger over his son's suicide, it's disturbingly understated, and he was ultimately the one who destroyed his son's life anyway.
  • Unknown Rival: Kastor hates his half-brother Damen for (in his eyes) stealing the throne. While this has always been apparent to other people like Nikandros and Jokaste, Damen himself refuses to believe Nikandros's warnings out of loyalty to his brother, and he remains unaware of Kastor's feelings until it's too late.
  • Uptown Guy: Berenger (an aristocrat) and Ancel (his escort) start out faking their interest in each other, but by the end of the story, it's real.
  • Wartime Wedding: After the conclusion of the war, Damen and Laurent decide to live together in a castle on the border of Vere and Akielos, with their countries now placed in an alliance. It's implied that this is either equivalent to marriage or leading up to a literal marriage, especially in the epilogue story "The Summer Palace."
  • Wolf Whistle: Lazar does this when he sees the handsome young soldier Pallas walk by.
  • Women Prefer Strong Men:
    • Vaskian women associate male attractiveness with strength and large stature. Thus, they are some of the few in the series who find Damen significantly more attractive than Laurent.
    • Vannes is one of the few female characters in the trilogy who isn't from Vask. She is attracted to strong men and women.
  • Worthy Opponent: Damen thought this about Auguste, noting his honor and extraordinary combat abilities. Damen also thinks this about Laurent after discovering the unexpected extent of his battle prowess, although the two of them never truly end up as enemies.
  • Useless Bystander Parent: Aimeric's mother Loyse isn't given much characterization—her main trait is that she is at least more ethical than her husband, because unlike Guion, she cared enough about Aimeric's suicide to turn against the Regent. However, the fact still stands that she knew about Guion essentially prostituting young Aimeric in exchange for a higher court position, and there's no indication that she did anything to interfere.
  • You Are Already Checked In: While incognito in an enemy country, Prince Laurent goes to an inn as "Charls, the Veretian Cloth Merchant." The innkeeper disagrees and tells him that Charls is already there. Played for Laughs when the real Charls comes out to confront him, recognizes his Prince, and starts supporting Laurent's lie.
  • You Have Outlived Your Usefulness: It's all but stated that the Regent had Paschal's brother killed after he assassinated King Aleron at the Regent's own request.
  • You Killed My Father: Damen killed Laurent's beloved older brother Auguste before the first book, for which Laurent utterly despises him at first. At the end of the third book, Laurent kills Damen's brother Kastor to save Damen's life, which Damen grieves but accepts as necessary.
  • Your Normal Is Our Taboo: Akielos has no nudity taboo, while semi-public sex is normal in Vere. Damen is terribly embarrassed when Laurent answers the door right after they've had sex, while Laurent is equally embarrassed to walk naked from the bath to the bedroom in front of unperturbed Akielon servants.
  • You Said You Would Let Them Go: Laurent gives himself up to his uncle in the third book so that Damen's life will be spared. When Damen arrives at Laurent's trial, Laurent's response is to furiously accuse the Regent of breaking his promise to let Damen go. Laurent does not know at this point that Damen came to the trial of his own volition, as his own highly risky Act of True Love.

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