howling libraries

Prince’s Gambit – C. S. Pacat

book 1 review


“To get what you want, you have to know exactly how much you are willing to give up.”

I was pleasantly surprised by the first book in this trilogy, but that was nothing compared to how much I loved the second installment. Everything that I enjoyed in Captive Prince was magnified in Prince’s Gambit, plus the character development was everything I wanted and more.

“That’s right, I’m still captured,” said Damen.
“Your eyes say, ‘For now,'” Laurent said. “Your eyes have always said, ‘For now.’”

While reading the first book, I literally thought to myself, “There is no way I could ever like Laurent!” Wow, was I wrong. Of course he did terrible things in the first book, and nobody is denying that, but the lighter shades of his moral greyness come to light in Prince’s Gambit. There is so much more to Laurent than meets the eye: he is wickedly intelligent, always a step ahead of his foes, and puts so much more on the line than anyone realizes. There is a motive behind every move he makes, and watching these things come out in the open, as well as seeing Damen’s reactions to learning that this man he travels with isn’t only a cruel snake, is so incredibly captivating.

“Because a king maker would always choose the weaker man. The weaker the man, the easier he is to control.”

Damen, of course, is just as lovable as he was in the beginning; from the very start of Prince’s Gambit, he is putting himself on the line for people he owes nothing to, simply because he’s such a kind-hearted individual. His homesickness is still heavy, but it begins to mingle with so many other emotions as he finally garners the respect of not only the Veretians he travels with, but Laurent, too. The first moment in which we see Laurent treat Damen as a confidante is such a warm, tangible thing. ❤

“Stop enjoying yourself,” Damen murmured. “We’re going to be killed, any minute.”
“Giant animal,” said Laurent.
“Stop it.”

As far as the romance goes, if you couldn’t guess from the first book, this is one hell of a slow burn, but it’s so lovely to watch the two men shift from sworn enemies to something more. I’ve always been a sucker for the enemies-to-lovers trope, and this is one of the best executions of that trope I’ve ever seen. Their banter absolutely kills me and I could read books on end just of Laurent smarting off to Damen.

I could gush for ages, really, but I’ll just say that I cannot recommend this series highly enough – if you can handle the tougher sides of the content. There’s not nearly as much abuse in book 2 as there was in book 1, but it is still present in some areas, so please proceed with caution. Meanwhile, I’m off to binge read the finale!

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