Let me begin this review by saying that these are just my opinions and I am, in no way, about to glorify rape or abuse. I am a survivor myself, and I’m fully aware that this book bothered a lot of people. I would never question another reader’s rating of this book, though, and I’m just going to ask you guys to extend the same courtesy. ❤
This book is NOT for everyone. It involves a lot of rape, sexual violence and slavery, abuse, pedophilia, and various other incredibly uncomfortable topics. I can fully understand why someone would NOT enjoy this book, but I loved it.
A golden prince was easy to love if you did not have to watch him picking wings off flies.
I had no idea that it would be able to pack so much character- and world-building into such a short little story, or that it would be so political! Betrayal stories are some of my absolute favorites, so this was solid for me in that aspect, too.
Not only did I enjoy the story line, but Damen/Damianos is such an enjoyable narrator and I felt so sorry for him, constantly. He makes some really poor choices at times, but he’s genuinely got a heart of gold. He comes from a country where “slaves” are treated less like property and more like what we would consider sugar babies in our society, so watching adjust to the terrible ways the Veretians view their slaves and “pets” is a tough journey. I loved how true to himself he stayed, regardless of how miserable his circumstances were.
This place sickened him. Anywhere else, you simply killed your enemy with a sword. Or poisoned him, if you had the honourless instincts of an assassin. Here, it was layer upon layer of constructed double-dealing, dark, polished, and unpleasant.
Of course, Damen is the only genuinely likable main character in this story, and all other prominent figures are raging douchebags, but there are a few lovable side characters (like sweet little Erasmus), or minor characters that are terrible but pitiable (looking at you, Nicaise). Honestly, the complexity and terrible nature of most of the characters reminded me of GRRM’s writing, where almost everyone is just totally despicable.
“I’m not surprised you’ve driven three men to kill you, I’m only surprised there weren’t more,” said Damen, bluntly.
All in all, please know what you’re going into before picking this book up, and if you’re triggered by rape descriptions and abuse scenarios in books, please, do not pick this up unless you know you’re in the right head space for it. If you think you can handle it, though, and enjoy stories of political intrigue/royalty/betrayal etc., I highly recommend this series.