Okay, I'll freely admit I probably did Dark's works a /bit/ of an injustice by reading this one first and completely disregarding the Mageri and SevenOkay, I'll freely admit I probably did Dark's works a /bit/ of an injustice by reading this one first and completely disregarding the Mageri and Seven series. But the MC in this one is refreshing, intense, and easy to engage with from a reader standpoint. There are character flaws, there's the whole unreliable narrator aspect going on, and I wasn't left choking on "Mary Sue" qualities. The badassery and action made it an enjoyable read, and I loved the relentless determination to maintain her own parameters of personal ethos. An extremely lovable character, and the writing was tight and on point. Solid voice, structural integrity in the execution and technique.
The fascinating worldbuilding has lured me into breaking down and exploring the earlier series, since there were only two of this one currently available. Ah, impatient readers, a sure sign of a quality experience....more
One of the best tarot decks I've encountered. Overall it has a very grounding and positive outlook to its artwork and interpretations, shifting focusOne of the best tarot decks I've encountered. Overall it has a very grounding and positive outlook to its artwork and interpretations, shifting focus away from negativity in whatever situation is presented.
I look forward to discovering a tarot deck that resonates with me more deeply than this one does. It was easy to get familiar with, to get in tune with and understand on an intuitive level, and it continues to amaze me with its accuracy....more
I enjoyed the injections of humor in this one, and the healthy dose of realism as well. A sweet friends-to-lovers, gay-for-you sort of story, but wellI enjoyed the injections of humor in this one, and the healthy dose of realism as well. A sweet friends-to-lovers, gay-for-you sort of story, but well crafted and well told. ...more
Very clean prose and editorial touch make this a polished clean and pleasant read for even the most discriminating grammar nazi. There is a shallow buVery clean prose and editorial touch make this a polished clean and pleasant read for even the most discriminating grammar nazi. There is a shallow but well constructed and executed plot arc; the lead characters and their relational development are by far the most intriguing aspects, overshadowing the relatively light science fiction angle quite thoroughly.
If you're looking for some satisfying escapism, highly recommended....more
Review of Captive Prince, through end of book two. (This is a long review but it’s a long story. Spoilering discussion relegated toward the end, underReview of Captive Prince, through end of book two. (This is a long review but it’s a long story. Spoilering discussion relegated toward the end, under the cut. There is a full list of potential trigger/kink warnings on the fic's page. Listing them all would be impossible. Check before you read, that's all I can say.)
The prologue of this trilogy has a slightly rough start. The presentation of titles and names and characters is, for the uninitiated, at once jarring and disorienting. I could almost say that the story could do without it, and yet the images and events in the prologue give the reader something to reflect upon as the story unfolds and the implications of the pieces depicted are revealed one at a time. One gets from the world-building a sense of solidity and a weight of realism that comes from long years of story-crafting in a single universe. The writer’s familiarity comes through silken and unmarred, and that transfers to the reader’s experience in an almost tangible fashion.
The cast of characters is large and yet, staying in a single POV, we’re grounded within the perceptions and perspectives of the main character. It works, and works well, partly because it keeps the focus on the slave/master dynamic from which the romance evolves with lethargy and reluctance. Without this tight focus, the tapping in a single mind and emotional landscape, the reader would get lost in the cast of characters and external events, and the fragile relational dynamic between Laurent and Damen would be swallowed up and disappear.
One of the things I noticed in comments on this story (though I barely read any of them until the last chapter) was commentary on how Laurent treats Damen, on how Damen is the character who gives so much of himself while Laurent holds everything back.
Though very little of Laurent's history ever comes to light on the page (the most we get is bread crumbs here and there, and a faint suggestion or two if we notice the play of shadows and implications) this reader could relate, increasingly, to Laurent’s reserve. Through the course of the first book (in which the Regent is presented as the cooler more civil and humane of the two, and Laurent seems vicious and heartless) Laurent’s character unfolds slowly and with almost belligerent reluctance for the audience.
It is easy to see how readers would become frustrated and sympathize with Damen. To the contrary, though this reader began with sympathy for Damen, loyalties shifted as the story unfolded. Laurent is a man whose uncle is his enemy, in a political environment of parry and thrust where every move is planned for the counter-moves against it, and nothing is done without malicious purpose. He struggles to understand why the slave is given to him, especially when Damen’s loyalties and honor assert themselves again and again. (view spoiler)[ He is given his brother’s killer, without knowing it. Given him, and advised, ordered, not to raise a hand against him. Without this knowledge (although I truly believe Laurent parses it out at some point, though I can’t pinpoint where) he finds himself liking the slave as a man, more and more. Valuing the man’s military prowess and fighting ability. What better way to destroy from within, than to lure your enemy to emotionally attach to the thing they loathe the most… Thankfully, love and hate are not opposites.
There is a strong theme of patriotism and racism in this story and the international conflict of war. I enjoyed the exploration of cultural receptivity in both characters; they begin the story full of rigid hatred for one another and the culture from which they come, and as the story unfolds they learn to appreciate the nuances and richness, the admirable qualities, in the other. Toward the end of the second book, Damen begins to wonder what might have been had he behaved with less hatred toward a stereotypical impression of his enemies. If he had tried first for peace instead of bludgeoning his way to victory. This sort of dynamic character shift and evolution of thought isn’t quite as prominent in Laurent as it is in Damen, but it does happen for both. There is almost a suggestion of a redemption theme, in the way Damen discovers his reputation as "Prince Killer" and then proceeds to save Laurent's life again and again and again.
The romantic arc of the plot is gentle, sloping and meandering. We get to see Damen’s journey from hatred to begrudging respect, to affection and the sort of deep accepting love that sees the flaws as beauty in the form of another. The most poignant moment in the story for me was when Laurent said, “Tomorrow you’ll be a free man,” and Damen replies with, “I am your slave.” I don’t know if Laurent understood what Damen was saying. I did though, even before he told the blacksmith to leave one of the cuffs in place. It wasn’t left in place for sentimental reasons, though Damen permits Laurent to believe that theory.
He left it because whether he’s collared or not, his heart and soul will remain his. That there, that’s powerful imagery. (hide spoiler)]
If you have not read this story yet, by all the gods, what are you waiting for?...more
**spoiler alert** I read this story years ago as a young teen, so I don't recall many details regarding the quality of prose, pacing, etc. What I do re**spoiler alert** I read this story years ago as a young teen, so I don't recall many details regarding the quality of prose, pacing, etc. What I do recall is a heartbreaking story of an equine spirit that violence could not tame. It turned the horse into a stone-cold, vicious killer who ends up being euthanized despite his great and unmatched talent in the show ring as a jumper. It has resonated through the decades with me because of themes that echo about nature versus nurture, the effect that the treatment of others has on one's psyche, and ... last but not least, the strange propensity of humans to create a monster through patterns of negative reinforcement, and then denigrate the very monster of their creation. Be it lower animal or fellow man, the themes are equally applicable. ...more