Are There Lesbians?
Betrayed by his brother, Prince Damen is sold into slavery to the Prince of their rival country, Laurent. Damen must keep his identity a secret, not only in order to have a chance at getting his throne back, but also in keeping alive, because he has been given to the one person with the most reason to hate him.
Let’s face it, this review would be a lot shorter if the ye olde “What I Watched/What I Expected/ What I Got” meme was still a thing, because the Captive Prince series was nothing like what I expected. Ok well, it was, for about the first half of the second book, but from there it devolves into a medieval political drama with so many twists and turns, at times it was a little hard to keep up.
I had my reservations about reading this series, having heard that it was, in a word, “rapey”. My reservations were not wrong. The first half of Captive Prince has some pretty unpleasant content including what is essentially a game of rape which starts as wrestling but then isn’t. Oh and the court watches this, considering it a form of perfectly socially acceptable entertainment. There’s also quite a deal of abuse – some sexual, some not, some directed towards children. Most often it is used to exemplify the overindulgence and decadence that the Regent’s court has sunk to. There is a developing romance between Damen and Laurent which is the main reason I was coerced into reading it, but the romance develops through mutual regard and not until the two of them are able to face on another on equal ground.
When I first started writing this review way back after I had just finished the series my answer to the question “Are There Lesbians?” was “yes”. Upon thinking it over in the many weeks it took me to get back to writing this damn thing I changed my mind. There are maybe two background instances where we see some woman on woman romance, and this in a society that is pretty much based on same-sex relationships because of a social stigma against bastards. There are also very few female characters, and only two that I can think of have names. One is the woman who betrayed Damen and helped send him into slavery, the other is the chief of an all-female tribe of warrior women. With one of the story’s prominent societies clearly based on the Spartans, you’d think we could have a few more women in the main body of the text.
I’m glad I gave myself more time to think between finishing Captive Prince and writing this. I have ended up in a situation somewhat similar to after I had first read Fifty Shades of Grey where I had kind of enjoyed reading it at the time, but once finished I was unenthused. Of course Captive Prince left a much less bitter taste in my mouth as it became something quite unexpected. I read it because I was curious to see what it was like and to make up my own mind. I don’t regret it and would encourage others to do the same if they would like, but it is certainly not a series which I can get extremely excited about.