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Literature / Captive Prince

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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:

  • Act of True Love: Laurent and Damen, at separate times, give themselves up to their enemies so that the other can be safe.
  • 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.
  • Aristocrats Are Evil: The most obvious being the Regent.
  • 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.
  • Authority Equals Asskicking:
    • Damianos is both the rightful King of Akielos and one of its most renowned warriors — too bad he spends most of the trilogy not being King. The notion that Damianos' skill with a sword somehow makes him a more fitting ruler is part of the reason Kastor resents him so deeply.
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    • Prince Laurent first wins his soldiers' respect by utterly dominating Govart in a duel and goes on to prove that he's almost as exceptional a warrior as he is a leader.
  • Badass Bookworm: Invoked by Laurent, a bookish child who threw himself into combat training at age thirteen after Auguste's death in battle. He doesn't draw attention to the fact, leaving his men amazed when he gets drawn into a duel and effortlessly, humiliatingly, slowly dismantles his opponent.
  • Bastard Bastard: Kastor is the illegitimate son of the King of Akielos, so he poisons his father and usurps the throne from his legitimate half-brother Damen. He has a Freudian Excuse in that he spent his first nine years expecting to become king, then lost his birthright when Damen was born.
  • Batman Gambit: During the confrontation between the main characters and The Regent in Kingsmeet, a place where violence is forbidden. The Regent reveals that he had raped Laurent soon after his brother's death, knowing this would make Damen attack him in a blind rage, and that the only way to save his life is for Laurent to bend to the Regent's will and demands.
  • Battle Couple: Damen the Warrior Prince and Laurent the Badass Bookworm.
  • The Berserker: Damen loses it when someone threatens Laurent, such as when the clansmen leader feels up Laurent and when the regent drops the reveal at the Kingsmeet.
  • 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.
    • In the PET short story, Ancel and Berenger.
  • Big Brother Worship:
    • Laurent idolized Auguste and loved him more than anyone else in the world. He still has some buried insecurities about lacking Auguste's easy charm.
    • Damen always saw Kastor as a model Akielon and Prince — which makes Kastor's betrayal of him all the harsher.
  • Bigger Is Better in Bed: When Laurent sees Damen naked, he's taken aback and says "I see you are everywhere in proportion." And because Good People Have Good Sex, Damen's sexual prowess is shown and established several times in the story.
  • Bookends:
    • The first book begins in the slave baths in Akielos, with Damen tied by Kastor and the bells ringing announcing a new king, Kastor. The third book ends there as well, with Damen again tied (this time, by Laurent, so he wouldn't interfer in Laurent's duel with Kastor trying to save his brother) and the bells ringing, now announcing that Damen is the new king.
    • 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.
  • Broken Bird: After his brother's death, his rape by the Regent as a child, and years of the Regent undermining his public image and planning to usurp him, Laurent is isolated and emotionally cold.
  • …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": [frowns] Seven hours.
  • Can't Hold His Liquor: Double Subverted when Laurent, a teetotaler, has to drink with a new political ally. To Damen's shock, Laurent holds his own in the Drinking Contest... but once they're alone, admits that he's too smashed to stand up on his own; he's just very good at faking sobriety.
  • 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.
  • Colour-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.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Consummate Liar: Years spent maneuvering the Decadent Court of Vere have left Laurent an incredibly good liar. Similarly, the Regent, from whom Laurent apparently learned all his tricks.
  • Creepy Uncle: The Regent raped his thirteen-year-old nephew Laurent while Laurent was grieving his brother.
  • Cruel Mercy: Laurent Invokes this to prevent Damen from being executed, arguing that "fast death doesn't hurt".
  • Decadent Court: The Veretian court has plenty of political intrigue, forbidden romance, sexual slavery, and pedophilia.
    This was Vere, voluptuous and decadent, country of honeyed poison.
  • Deadpan Snarker: Laurent doesn't let his ironclad self-composure get in the way of his barbed sense of humour.
  • Decapitation Presentation: The Regent has Nicaise's head delivered to Laurent as a threat, claiming he was Rewarded as a Traitor Deserves. Laurent snarks that murdering a helpless child isn't much of a show of force, but is privately extremely distraught by the boy's death.
  • Defrosting Ice Queen: Laurent slowly opens up to Damen as he realizes, to his considerable confusion, that Damen is genuinely trustworthy. Only in private, though.
  • 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 before muster.
  • 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 kills himself in prison after he's exposed as a traitor.
  • Dumb Muscle: What Laurent frequently accuses Damen of being, and the common Veretian idea of Akielons.
  • Eating the Eye Candy: Even before Damen starts to like Laurent, he is 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 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.
    Damen, many times: We're not fucking.
  • Everyone Calls Him "Barkeep": The Regent is only ever referred to by his title.
  • 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 Berserk. The author has confirmed that Griffith was a major inspiration in the creation of Laurent.
  • Face Palm: Nikandros. Also, he is not a big fan of Laurent thus always gives the Disapproving Look.
    Nikandros held his gaze, then let out a breath and passed his hand over his face, massaging it briefly.
  • Foe Romance Subtext: Even when they still hate each other, Damen is put off by how attracted he is to Laurent.
  • Forced Orgasm: While Damen is enslaved in the Decadent Court of Vere, his owner has him restrained so that an escort can perform oral sex on him for the courtiers' amusement. It's unambiguously portrayed as a sexual violation and a deliberate cruelty from the owner.
  • 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.
  • Garden of Love: In "The Summer Palace", after the main trilogy, Damen and Laurent finally have the free time to visit Damen's summer palace, an oceanside estate that's open to its many gardens and outdoor baths. They have a tender tryst outside and start to come to terms the pain they'd caused each other when they were enemies.
  • 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 deeply resented everything that Damianos got by virtue of his birth, including the throne that Kastor expected to pass to him.
  • 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, believing his allyship and trust on Laurent is brought on by a crush.
  • Ice Queen:
    • Laurent is a rare male example, and has been described as a "cast-iron bitch". Twice.
    • Jokaste is cool, calculating, and coldly intelligent. It took "three months of courtship" from Damen for her to acknowledge him.
  • I Kiss Your Foot: This is a common occurrence where the slaves declared to serve for their masters. For example, Damen vows to serve for Laurent but to do that, he has to kiss Laurent's boot.
  • 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:
    • Damen hides his identity when he's made a slave, since an Akielon royal would be as good as dead in a Veretian court. He fails — the Regent knew from the start, and Laurent knows as soon as he laid eyes on Damen, but say nothing until the third book.
    • 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 the title character, who knows Laurent's true identity but not Damen's.
  • 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.
  • Made a Slave: Damen, within the first few pages, as a form of Cruel Mercy while his people believe him to be dead.
  • Manipulative Bastard:
    • The Regent has been using and abusing the entire Veretian court and Kastor's faction in Akielos to build his political power and feed his appetites.
    • Laurent is a more positive example. He knows his position is precarious and his life hangs in the balance, so he relies on attaching strings to everyone he can and on manipulating his enemies into dangerous mistakes.
  • 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. Damen's mother, it is mentioned in one of the short stories, died in childbirth, but there are statues of her in the palace and in the gardens she designed. This allows a heartwarming moment where Laurent asks her permission to court Damen.
  • No Heterosexual Sex Allowed: In Vere, having an illegitimate child is highly stigmatized. As such, pre-marital homosexual relations are the norm, whereas heterosexual sex outside of marriage can be a career-ending misstep.
  • One Head Taller: Damianos looms over 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."
  • One-Man Army: At both Marlas and Charcy, Damianos leaves his men behind, singlehandedly cuts a bloody swath through the enemy army to the commander, and kills him. His soldiers at Charcy are left staring after him in utter awe.
  • 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 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.
  • 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.
  • Refuge in Audacity: What to do when you're hiding from enemy soldiers and your cart gets stuck? Call the soldiers over, enlist their help with the cart, and fast-talk your way into traveling with them for a day, if you're Laurent.
  • 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.
  • 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.
  • Royal Bastard: Kastor is the illegitimate son of the King of Akielos and was heir to the throne until his legitimate half-brother Damianos' birth knocked him down the line of succession. He sets off the events of the series by usurping the throne after the King's death, which he turns out to have caused.
  • 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.
  • Secret Secret-Keeper: Damen is blindsided in Kings Rising when Laurent reveals that he's known Damen's true identity all along.
  • Sex Slave: Damen. He’s 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.
  • Star-Crossed Lovers: Damen and Laurent are the crown princes of two kingdoms who loathe each other. Damen killed Laurent’s beloved brother, while Laurent knew of, and took glee in, the arranged murder of Damen's father and 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.
  • 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.
  • Takes Ten to Hold: When the Regent delivers a terrible Internal Reveal to Warrior Prince Damen, he goes incoherent with rage until he realizes he's being restrained by no fewer than six of the country's most elite soldiers.
  • 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.
  • Villainous Incest: In order to tarnish his reputation, a common rumor about Laurent is that he was in love with his older brother. The Regent actually was the one who raped Laurent, making him an example of this trope.
  • What Happened to the Mouse?: Jokaste and her child with Kastor. Towards the end of the final book, Laurent releases Jokaste knowing she is useless as a hostage and that the child is Kastor's rather than Damen's. She leaves behind a note clarifying this to Damen and is never heard of again after leaving. As for her child, when all characters learn it is not Damen's, the plot about them never gets picked up again, aside from the hint that it is alive and safe, but now orphaned.
  • When She Smiles: Damen is quite affected when Laurent defrosts enough to smile in his presence.
  • 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, 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.
  • 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.


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