Kings Rising

KRby C.S. Pacat
4 of 5 stars

*This series is intended for mature readers*

This is a surprising and satisfying end to the trilogy! Once again, the level of plotting amazed me. Within the first twenty pages everything is turned on its head, and I spent the rest of the story slowly piecing together what was really going on. It’s hard to say much without spoilers, but I’ll do my best!

Damen’s true identity is revealed, and that changes everything. His people want him back. Laurent wants him out of his sight. Damen is unsure what he wants now, but he knows that he’ll help Laurent keep his throne and overthrow the Regent’s schemes. But the Regent has plans running deeper than Damen could ever suspect, and it will test the reserves of his strength, honor, and will to restore peace to Akielos and Vere.

These characters—I don’t know how to properly express how compelling they are. Damen and Laurent’s individual arcs and their relationship seize your attention and never let you go until you’ve turned the last page. Although I find the writing style a bit distant, the political intrigue wrapping around these men continually raises the tension and the pacing is almost flawless. The romance is amazing.

It’s not often you get a good twist in a story but this one had three or four of those and it was incredible! This trilogy is dark with moments of humor, and presents a detailed character study of two princes in rival nations that’s unlike anything I’ve ever read. There—no spoilers—go read it! Although there is mature content, I found most of the trigger warnings from the first book weren’t repeated in the next two.

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, Kings Rising is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!

Similar reads:

  • The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski – Kestrel and Arin are separated, on opposing sides of the war between their nations. Kestrel is determined to help her former slave without his knowledge, while Arin tries to reconcile the girl he thought he knew with the fact that she is set to marry the heir to the empire destroying his kingdom. See my review here.
  • The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon – Paige escapes the prison of Sheol I and tries to gather the bitter rivals of clairvoyants under one banner to fight the corrupt Scion government. But her former mentor will stop at nothing to keep her from disrupting his carefully constructed network. See my review here.
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik – Agniezska becomes the Dragon’s unwilling apprentice and prisoner, but slowly learns her captivity isn’t for the reasons she thought, and she has a power that might save the kingdom from darkness. See my review of this incredible book here.

Prince’s Gambit

gambitby C.S. Pacat
4 of 5 stars

*This trilogy is intended for mature readers*

I had to start this trilogy when all my writing friends were giving it 5 stars—it was sure to be amazing! And this sequel completely lives up to the first book. 

The political intrigue, smart banter, and slow-burn attractions are all here, as well as more wartime strategies and a bit more action. Damen has agreed to help and protect Laurent on his uncle’s mission to the borderlands, but he’s going to escape back to Akielos as soon as they arrive. Freedom is finally within his grasp, and he’s determined to return to his country and reclaim his throne. Laurent knows that his uncle has arranged everything to eliminate him from the line of succession, and must stay two steps ahead of every obstacle and threat that crosses his path.

The grudging respect between Damen and Laurent continues to solidify as they train their sub-par troops and travel to across the country. Although they don’t always agree, they have the same end-goals and find themselves compromising and using each other’s strengths to achieve victory. Honestly, my favorite part of this book was how these two strong-willed characters kept forcing themselves to give compliments to each other when due (despite residual annoyances) simply because their personal codes of honor demanded it. The tension of attraction between them keeps climbing in spite of themselves and it’s hard to put this book down—I had to see if they would ever tell each other the truth!

The writing and pacing are fantastic. And the dialogue is seriously to die for. I love the growing relationship between Damen and Laurent but I felt kept at arms-length most of the time, which is the only reason I’m not giving this five stars. Although there’s many pages spent on emotions and emotive moments, the narration is sparse enough that I couldn’t fully invest in the characters like I have in other books. I still can’t wait to read the final book—although I’m just as nervous as I am excited!

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, Prince’s Gambit is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!

Similar reads:

  • The Winner’s Crime by Marie Rutkoski – A YA fantasy series of political cat and mouse. Kestrel and Arin are separated, on opposite sides of a war between their countries, unsure of what each other’s feelings truly are. See my review here.
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik –  A dark, well-written fantasy about a young woman taken by a wizard to be his servant for ten years. But she might have her own powers to master. See my review here.
  • The Mime Order by Samantha Shannon – Paige has escaped captivity with the help of her master, Warden, and returns to Scion London’s underbelly to rally the clairvoyants together to face the government determined to kill them. See my review here.

What’s new this month

I’m a bit overwhelmed by the February releases this year! Here are the books I’m adding to my list this month:

KR2/2 – Kings Rising – C. S. Pacat

The much-anticipated conclusion in this trilogy centered around political intrigue and the relationship between banished prince Damen, now a slave in enemy territory, and his new master, Laurent, prince of that country. So much drama and (all kinds) of tension! It’s so character-driven, which is unusual in the fantasy genre, so I can’t wait to read more. I devoured the first book and I need to find out how this ends immediately!

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble



assassin's heart

2/2 – Assassin’s Heart – by Sarah Ahiers

Pitched as The Godfather meets Romeo and Juliet, this story about assassin families and intrigue caught my eye immediately. If anyone has gotten obsessed with the Throne of Glass series, here’s another assassin to keep you on the edge of your seat until September! Lea must avenge her family’s death which probably happened thanks to her secret relationship with Val, an assassin from a rival family. I expect plenty of murder and intrigue!

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble


stars above2/2 – Stars Above – by Marissa Meyer

For everyone who just can’t handle the end of The Lunar Chronicles, enjoy this collection of novellas set in the same world with more to love from your favorite characters. As someone who still hasn’t gotten around to the brick that is Winter, I probably won’t read this for a while, but I think it’s timed perfectly for everyone who finished the last book in November. I love that publishers are getting more comfortable with short fiction! (5 new stories are included with 4 previously published tales).

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble


abyss surrounds us2/8 – The Abyss Surrounds Us – by Emily Skrutskie

Pirates! Sea monster/dragon creatures! Lesbians! Story, you have my interest – please please please don’t disappoint! The takes the adventure and kick-ass heroines I love and promises some new twists and exciting world-building. This is part one of a duology, so more points for not stringing me along for years. I’ve found this structure tends to cut down on the “middle book” syndrome of stretching out character arcs and events just to fill space. This is the first of several pirate debuts for 2016 –I’ll resist making a pirate joke of some kind.

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble


morning star2/9 – Morning Star – by Pierce Brown

I’ll admit, I think I’ve read enough dystopian books to get the gist and I’m kind of over the commoners uprising against the rich ruler types. I admit the Communist leaning of the cover intrigues me. Anyway, I know this has a strong following so to all the existing fans, rejoice, the conclusion is here! Darrow’s long-standing battle to bring justice to his world (no doubt at steep cost) will wrap up in this volume. His plan is to bring down the Golds from the inside, but we all know plans tend to go wrong…

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble


blackhearts2/9 – Blackhearts – by Nicole Castroman

The story of Blackbeard before his legendary status as a pirate captain! Edward Drummond is chafing against the restraints of high society. Anne Barrett loses her family fortune and must become a maid—in the Drummond household—when her true dream is to return to her mother’s island. I can’t wait to see how these characters chase their “unconventional” dreams together! I’m also intrigued by pirates used in a slightly historical sense as well.

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble


these vicious masks2/9 – These Vicious Masks – by Tarun Shanker

Jane Austen meets X-Men? I’m down for that. A girl searching for her missing sister, Victorian romance, family secrets, London (my favorite city!)…I think this will be a fun little adventure! I’m a bit worried about some of the tropes but if the characters are well-drawn it will be quite fun enough for me. I’m hoping this will be similar to Silver in the Blood but with smoother pacing.

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble


girl from everywhere2/16 – The Girl from Everywhere – by Heidi Heilig

Similar to January’s Passenger, we have time-travel and high stakes relationships! Nix has followed her father through time for years and even has an out-of-time love interest on board their ship. But now her father wants to return to Honolulu, Nix’s birthplace—before her mother dies in childbirth. He wants to save her mother. Nix isn’t sure what will happen if her father tries to change time, but his dream could kill her. The relationships and conflicts in this story sound amazing, I can’t wait!

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble


A Gathering of Shadows Final2/23 – A Gathering of Shadows – by V.E. Schwab

OK, I haven’t gotten the chance to read the first book yet (A Darker Shade of Magic) but I fell in love with her writing last year and I want to read more of her stuff! Again, set in London and promising tons of addictive mayhem, I want to explore these characters as soon as I can. Time-travel, magic, intrigue—I’m sure it’s amazing! I just need to make room on my shelf. This month has too much awesome stuff coming out!

More info here: Goodreads and Barnes & Noble


Raven King2/23 – The Raven King – by Maggie Stiefvater

Remember that this gorgeous, epic book was delayed until April 26th! I know it’s the second delay, but it stings less. I have to re-read the books – and all of these amazing February releases – so April will be here before I know it! And at least we have cover art now. 🙂

Captive Prince

captive princeby C.S. Pacat
4 of 5 stars
Debut novel: February 2, 2013 (eBook)

*Mature readers*

When all of your friends give a book 5 stars, it’s time to check it out!

This story began as an online serial before getting picked up and published in print format. Looking back, I think the serialization is a bit evident in that each chapter feels episodic. This is an intensely character-driven story, so don’t look for intense world-building or much action. This is about relationships and political intrigue between Damen and Laurent.

Kastor kills their father and removes his brother Damen to usurp the throne. He sends Damen to Vere as a slave, his true identity a secret, in shock from betrayal and unsure of his future. Laurent is the Crown Prince of Vere, waiting to ascend the throne currently ruled in his stead by his uncle, the Regent. He is Damen’s new master. Laurent hates Damen and his country, Akielos, for killing his father and brother during a war. Damen knows if Laurent finds out his true identity, he’ll be killed, so he resolves to escape. Mind games, torture, and surprising acts of understanding ensue in the sensual Veretian royal court.

I have to admit, even though technically not a lot happens, this book had me engrossed. The characters are so vivid, and Damen’s predicament gets progressively more complicated as he tries to balance pleasing the different factions within the court with his true desire to escape and reclaim his throne in Akielos. Dominance and submission is of course the biggest theme in this story, as the push and pull between Damen and Laurent deepens into a sort of grudging, mutual respect. I can’t wait to see what happens next!

If you’d like to see more reviews or buy a copy for yourself, Captive Prince is available on Goodreads and on Barnes & Noble’s website here. Please consider supporting your local bookstore!

Similar reads:

  • The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski – Another instance of someone winning a slave they don’t want, only to discover they might not be so different. See my review here.
  • Uprooted by Naomi Novik – For another relationship between captor/apprentice this is an excellent story with dark magic. See my review here.
  • The Bone Season by Samantha Shannon – Paige Mahoney is a clairvoyant, meaning she is a criminal just for existing. When the totalitarian government Scion captures her she becomes Warden’s personal slave. What she doesn’t expect is that he might be the key to her escape. See my review here.
  • A Court of Thorns and Roses by Sarah J. Maas – Feyre kills a fairy and her life is forfeit. But her time spent in Tamlin’s kingdom makes her wonder what his true motives are for holding her captive. See my review here.

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