New Release Review: Kings Rising by C. S. Pacat

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Kings Rising
Kings Rising by C.S. Pacat
Book #3 in Captive Prince

Genre: M/M, Fantasy
Publication Date: February 2nd, 2016
ARC provided by Netgalley and Berkley

Synopsis from Goodreads: “Damianos of Akielos has returned.”

Damen’s identity has been revealed, and now he must face his master, Prince Laurent, as Damianos of Akielos, the man Laurent has sworn to kill. The struggle that ensues takes them deep into Akielos, where they face their most dangerous opposition yet.

On the brink of a momentous battle, the future of two kingdoms hangs in the balance. In the south, Kastor’s forces are massing. In the north, the Regent’s armies are mobilizing for war. Damen’s only hope is in an alliance with Laurent, against their usurpers. But even if the fragile trust that they have built survives the revelation of Damen’s identity—can it stand against the Regent’s final, deadly play for the throne?

We knew going in that Kings Rising was going to be a hard book to read, if only because it signifies the end of our time spent two of our favorite all time characters, Damen and Laurent. For these two Badasses, it was our most anticipated book of 2016! We’re happy (and not the least bit surprised) to report that it far exceeded our expectations. We’re going to avoid spoilers for Kings Rising in this review, but please be advised that if you haven’t read the first two books, you may want to avoid reading this. And as a heads up, these books must be read in order to experience the full impact of the story.

Wendy and Angie’s (Gushing) Review

Angie: Weeeeeeeeeendy! I miss Damen and Laurent already.

Wendy: No kidding!  I read this twice and still I hurt for more!  Damen and Laurent’s story has made me reevaluate everything I’ve read in the last decade.

Angie: The entire series has upped the ante, that’s for sure! Sometimes, when I’m going into a swan song book, I have major reservations about how it’s going to be wrapped up, and I wonder am I going to be satisfied. There was no hint of that with this book. I knew it was going to be a brilliant ending – it’s been a stellar series – but I had no idea how it was going to end. It’s been fun speculating.

Wendy: I didn’t worry until we heard there would be a Laurent POV, and then I got nervous.  Laurent is my favorite character, so I didn’t want anything to change him.  I shouldn’t have worried, because the small glimpses we got of him in no way lessened his mystery or ruined the depth of his character.  I wouldn’t even call them Laurent POV’s because he kept his thoughts just as hidden from the reader as he does the world.

Angie: Oh, yeah. He’s not one to tip his hand. And I lied (on accident) – I was nervous about Laurent’s point of view, too, but after that first snippet, I was all in. There was no way it could have been better. Laurent was so raw in this book. I mean, we saw the smallest glimpse of his vulnerability in the second book when he really began recognizing Damen’s strengths and admitting they were his (Laurent’s) weaknesses, but this was yet another layer of Laurent.

Wendy: Yes!  Because we saw his vulnerability in Prince’s Gambit but it was grudging.  You could tell he wasn’t comfortable with it.  Reaching the conclusion, it was wonderful to read him taking that next step.  I just love Laurent! However, I also want to highlight Damen too.  I thought it was really incredible that despite everything, Damen never lost his ability to love and trust, even those who didn’t deserve it.  It was easy to see how he could forgive Laurent’s actions in the first book, because forgiveness was just his nature.  In so many ways, he was truly the innocent character in the story, and he stayed that way even to the end.  I think that’s what Laurent loved about him, and it’s why his men (and everyone) follows him.

Angie: Yeah, I think I’ve gushed and gushed about Damen in every Captive Prince conversation we’ve ever had. And speaking of my most favorite hero ever…at the end of Prince’s Gambit, I thought I understood the depth of his feelings for Laurent, but reading Kings Rising, it’s clear I didn’t. I thought it was gradual and still building, but Damen was as raw and honest as Laurent (as Damen always is,) and I was floored at how all-consuming his feelings already were. It made me love Damen even more.

Wendy: I feel like I should have something to critique, something constructive to say, but the truth is that it’s rare that a book takes me along for the ride so completely, the way Kings Rising did.  There are hundreds of books that have made me cry and laugh, but reading this book I was so caught up in Damen and Laurent that I found myself physically trembling with adrenaline.  My chest was squeezing with stress.  And in that last page, my eyes prickled and my throat closed up, because I was just so full of joy.  It felt like magic!  I have nothing negative to say, because I actually thought every single page of this trilogy was absolutely perfect.

Angie: I was the same way. I was literally sitting on the edge of my couch shaking while devouring every single word. It was an adrenaline rush for sure. There are so many wonderful moments in this trilogy, but the image that will be burned into my brain forever is Damen and Laurent in the tent with their heads together over the maps. I feel like this is where their love story really began – Laurent was slowly coming to see that he was on the receiving end of Damen’s loyalty, and it had been so long since Laurent had had that from anyone that it broke my heart and then put it back together again.

Wendy – I think for me, it’s the vision of Damen and Laurent away from the palace life, off on one of their adventures that forced them to act as partners.  Like the night of the brothel and the balcony in Prince’s Gambit.  Those were some of my most favorite moments.

Angie – Aaaah, the balcony scene. That’s another of my favorites. There’s no denying that this series is special, but I think one of the things that makes it even more special to me is that it’s really the first thing we bonded over once I came on board. I remember reading the first book and telling you I couldn’t wait for you to read it, because it was going to give me so much insight into your reading tastes. LOL

Wendy: Haha!  Well, it was the perfect test and you have the best taste, because I seriously loved this book so much I can’t even explain it.  There’s a hierarchy of books in my head, and for the first time in so long this series has jumped to the top of that list.  If you hadn’t pushed me I would never have read it, so I can’t say thank you enough.

Angie: Yay! This tops my list of favorites, too. There’s not another series that even comes close for me. It was plotted so meticulously, and the characterization throughout all three books has never wavered. Every aspect of the story was absolutely flawless.

Wendy: There aren’t enough compliments in the world that would could reflect how much I loved this series.

Angie: I’m not sure if we’re setting Badass precedent here, but this book is so wondrous, we can’t give it any less than six stars. Thank you, C.S. Pacat, for this extraordinary adventure!

Our Rating:

Six Stars

Series Reading Order:
1. Captive Prince: Volume One
2. Prince’s Gambit
3. Kings Rising

C.S. Pacat did a Guest Post for us back in July regarding biased points of view, and if you love this series, you don’t want to miss it! You can read that here.

© 2016, Badass Book Reviews. All rights reserved.

Comments 2

  • As soon as I got the book, I immediately skipped to the end – had to see how everything was resolved! I know, I know. Can’t wait for the short stories in this world – the author said there were going to be three!

    • OH, Hannah. Readers everywhere just let out a collective shudder. 😉 I love that you’re so excited about this series, too. The short stories are going to be such a treat!