Captive Prince

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Name: Captive Prince
Abbreviation(s): CP, CaPri
Creator: C.S. Pacat (formerly freece; S.U. Pacat)
Date(s): May 5th 2008 - 2016
Medium: Online, Novel
Country of Origin: Australia
External Links: LiveJournal; Goodreads
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Captive Prince is an original slash series by C. S. Pacat consisting of three novels (Captive Prince, Prince's Gambit, and Kings Rising) and several short stories in the same universe.

The story centers around the relationship between Damen of Akielos and Laurent of Vere, the machinations for the thrones of their respective kingdoms, and deals heavily with sexual slavery.

The first book, Captive Prince, was originally posted as a WIP on LiveJournal under the username freece, beginning May 2008. Book two, Prince's Gambit, was also posted on the account, and was completed in May 2012. Both books were taken down from LJ and released commercially for the first time in 2013. The final book, Kings Rising, was released for the first time in 2016.

Summary

Author summary: Damen is the true heir to the throne, but when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity and sent to serve the Prince of a rival nation as a pleasure slave.

Some fans have thought this short summary is somewhat misleading.[1] It describes the basic premise but in no way gives away that the book is actually a deliciously plotted novel with a lot of political intrigue and a main character who is thrust into the middle of a power game between Laurent, the rightful heir to the throne, and his uncle.

The author’s summary also does not include warnings that the first few chapters of Captive Prince include noncon and are often violent, including a brutal flogging scene.

It's also not indicative of the amount of UST there is: although there is explicit sex throughout the series, it takes a long, long time before Damen and Laurent actually do the do.[2]

Publication History

  • On Livejournal: Captive Prince and Prince's Gambit were written and posted as a work in progress to the author's Livejournal under the username freece from 2008 to 2012. The first chapter of Book 1 was published in May 2008[3] and the final chapter of Prince's Gambit was posted in May 2012.[4] It was beta-read by bop_radar.
  • First commercial edition: The first two books were released as paperbacks and ebook versions on February 4th, 2013, published by Gatto.[5]
  • Second commercial edition: In May 2013, Pacat announced that the rights to the Captive Prince trilogy had been acquired by Penguin.[6]Captive Prince was published by Penguin in April 2015 and Prince’s Gambit in July 2015. Kings Rising was released on February 2, 2016.
  • Short stories: Pacat announced in January 2016 that she would be releasing three extra short stories in the Captive Prince universe; [7] These are available for purchase as of March 2018 via Amazon or the CSPacat/books web page
    • Green but for a Season: Published Sept 20, 2016 by Gatto, set during Prince's Gambit, Jord/Aimeric.
    • The Summer Palace: Published Jan 5, 2017 by Gatto, set after the trilogy, Damen/Laurent.
    • The Adventures of Charls, the Veretian Cloth Merchant: Published May 3, 2017 by Gatto, set after the trilogy, Damen/Laurent
  • in September 2016 Pacat announced there would actually be another story. [8], Pet: Published Jan 6, 2018 by Gatto, set during Captive Prince.
  • in October 2018 a collection of the four short stories (Green but for Season, The Summer Palace, The Adventures of Charls, the Veretian Cloth Merchant and Pet) was published by Gatto as one volume.

Differences between editions

  • The first publication ebooks contained two story extras: in Volume One, a 5,000 short story titled The Training of Erasmus which expanded on pre-book events and introduced new characters. In Volume Two, Chapter Nineteen and a Half at the end of the book expands on Chapter 19 (in which UST between the main characters is finally resolved). Those extras were not included in the paperback versions due to extra cost.[9]
  • Conversely, a map of the story's world only appears in the paperbacks, not in the ebooks.
  • Some notable details (like the name of Laurent's homeland: from "Rabat" to "Vere") were changed in the transition from web to book.
  • The story extras and map are available in the Penguin print editions, but not the ebooks.


Reception

Since its original posting, Captive Prince has enjoyed a steadily growing readership as word of mouth spreads through fandom.[10][11]

One factor for its success is that freece combines popular fannish tropes and clichés with a delightfully plotty approach.[12] Another factor is freece's open and friendly engagement with her readers, her readiness to answer questions and provide abundant details about her world (as long as they do not contain story spoilers).[13][14]

Recs will often point out that the novel is both well-written and well-balanced.[15] Readers highlight aspects such as its intriguing main characters[16] and its careful and intelligent plotting[17], along with its deftly handled UST.[18]

Some selected reviews:

Have you ever started a story because the summary sounded like just the right cliche to satisfy a guilty pleasure craving? That’s why I started reading this one, but it ended up being fantastic. It’s not cliche at all. It’s an intelligent read, with so many intricate twists and turns. There’s an actual plot rather than the simple “when will they have sex?” that’s so typical in slash fiction. The unresolved sexual tension is through the roof and delicious, and it’s balanced perfectly against the plot.[19]
Captive Prince is two stories, really. The first is what it set out to be, freece testing the waters of original slash by writing slave fic, and there are a few good, solid chapters of that, with all the tropes and humiliation kink and confused UST you'd expect. The second is the plot of an original book on par, in quality, with mainstream fiction and in my personal opinion one of the best books I've read (am reading) in any genre. Which I was not at all expecting.[20]

Since the publication of book 1 and 2, another set of (overwhelmingly positive, as of Feb. 2013) reviews can be found on the retailer platforms, e.g. amazon.

The Daily Dot published an article about the Captive Prince on February 15, 2013: Behind "Captive Prince," S.U. Pacat's bestselling work of slave erotica by Aja Romano.

Reception has not been entirely positive. There are concerns about racism, as the story involves a white character enslaving and abusing a brown/black character.

Mixed reviews of the series were dicussed in the fail fandomanon thread "Was it decided that Captive Prince is bad, after all?"[21]:

Lots of people despise it, me included. What changed was two things:

1. There's more and more m/m available in English language for $ book form like CP is now. Its roots in early 00s fanfic tropes are more obvious now and not shared by most other stuff in a similar marketing category. I wouldn't say that new stuff is necessarily better. It just has slightly different trashy idfic tropes and often ones I personally like better. CP's central ship has a lot in common with other "original slash" of the 00s, including the stuff that became ebooks, but those trends are generally out of fashion now. Even Josh Lanyon isn't quite so Sentinel grovelfic as in the past.

(Examples of works that are equally old fanfic-flavor though totally different genres than CP are Shadow of the Templar, Playing the Fool, and possibly Cut & Run, but that was so atrocious I couldn't finish book 1. There was an era when published m/m all felt like "original slash" on LJ circa 2005. Now, it feels like its own thing. And it's possible to find books where the bottom doesn't have a childhood rape backstory. CP might have been more surprising if it weren't following the trauma backstory beats of literally every other oldschool work of original m/m of a certain flavor.)

CP is legitimately lots of people's fave, but there was also a fanbase that adored it because it didn't have much competition. That situation has changed, and fans coming in through other styles of slash fanfic or through random m/m ebooks on Amazon aren't going to have the exact same set of references and preferences as the original slash audience CP was once serialized to.

2. CP is well known enough and old enough that plenty of people have checked it out from curiosity by now. Its first audience was a sympathetic one prepared to like it. That's not as true of the wider audience it eventually reached. IMO, the politics and worldbuilding are pretty weak if you're comparing to old sff novels but quite strong compared to original m/m available in the 00s. I'm horrified that people recced it to me on that basis, but I also know that my friends don't read other books in its genre because so few of them are m/m.[22]

Fannish Activity

  • LiveJournal: After a chapter was posted to Livejournal, the comments section usually exploded with mini-reviews and plot speculations. In fact, the discussions between the fans of the story reflect the common fannish engagement with a well-written source like a TV series with a strong story arc where everyone wants to know where it is going and what happens next. As a result this novel turned into a small fandom. In between chapters, the speculation continues in private journals[23][24] as well as the fan community Captive Princes that was founded in May 2009, almost exactly a year after the first chapter was posted.

Discussion

In a Q&A session at the_slash_pile in March 2011, fans had the opportunity to ask Pacat questions about the story, her writing process and everything about writing Captive Prince as long as it wasn't a spoiler.[25].

As per fan request, Pacat has also posted DVD commentaries for some chapters, and has posted about her techniques for crafting the much-praised tension in a Dec. 2012 blog post. [26]

One Kingdom

One Kingdom was a 2016 Captive Prince charity zine. All proceeds went to the Australian Childhood Foundation. [27]

Example Fanworks

Common Tropes

  • Laurent's hair: despite being talked about often and at length in the books, no one actually knows how long Laurent's hair is, leaving fan artists or fic writers to decide for themselves.
  • Bottom!Damen: Since the canon does not show this aspect of the main pairing's dynamic, fanworks often depict the first time Damen is the receiving partner during intercourse.
  • Auguste: A number of fanworks explore the relationship between Laurent and his brother Auguste, including fix-it scenarios where Auguste is alive.

Main Pairings

Per AO3's sidebar, most fanworks focused on canon relationships. Indeed, out of 902 works posted under the fandom's tag as of March 2017:

Other minor pairings include Erasmus/Kallias and Damen/Jokaste.

Fanart

Fanfiction

Captive Prince AO3 tag

Podfic

Captive Prince podfic AO3 tag

Further Reading/Meta

References

  1. trobadora Original Slash, Archived version, 24 October 2009. (Accessed 24 January 2010)
  2. "they just finally had makeouts in the last chapter, so progress is being made." from a thread at the LiveJournal community reviewsanon, 21 Nov 2011 (Accessed 12 Dec 2011); archive link; screencap.
  3. freece. Captive Prince Prologue, 05 May 2008. (Accessed 24 January 2010); Captive Prince - prologue - Fiction by C. S. Pacat, Archived version
  4. freece. Captive Prince Book Two Chapter Twenty One, 22 May 2012. (Accessed 6 May 2015); Captive Prince, Book Two - Chapter Twenty One - Fiction by C. S. Pacat, Archived version
  5. freece. Captive Prince available for pre-order!, 18 January 2013. (Accessed 19 January 2013); Captive Prince available for pre-order! - Fiction by C. S. Pacat, Archived version
  6. freece. Huge Captive Prince News!, 23 May 2013. (Accessed 6 May 2015); Huge Captive Prince news! - Fiction by C. S. Pacat, Archived version
  7. cspacat.com, January 26, 2016; C.S. Pacat, Archived version
  8. @cspacat, Tweet on September 2, 2016; archive link
  9. freece. Captive Prince ebook and paperback FAQ, 19 January 2013. (Accessed 19 January 2013); Captive Prince ebook and paperback FAQ - Fiction by C. S. Pacat, Archived version
  10. Sabeth. "I just started reading Captive Prince today after seeing it recced for, like, the seven millionth time. =3".comment. 23 January 2010. (Accessed 24 January 2010)
  11. yourlibrarian. "Not that this story really needs my rec since it seems to be enormously and justifiably well known." What does fanfic leave out?. 11 December 2011. Accessed 13 December 2011.
  12. lenora_rose."(M/M that starts with a scenario that looks like it will be all bodice-ripperish and cheesy, and rapidly gets more complex and fascinating, and contains a lot more politics than romance or sex. And written to a professional level." untitled. 4 January 2010. (Accessed 24 January 2010)
  13. freece. DVD commentary: Chapter 8. 4 April 2009. (Accessed 24 January 2010)
  14. freece. Worldbuilding FAQ. 20 November 2008. (Accessed 24 January 2010)
  15. Sparrow. Rec ID 01821. Unknown date. (Accessed 24 January 2010)
  16. princessofg. "i cannot overstate my love for the characterization of the protagonists in this story or the skill with which we see laurent so clearly despite damen's role as unreliable narrator." comment 22 January 2010. (Accessed 24 January 2010)
  17. tmelange. "This is exactly why I think so highly of this story. At the beginning, the reader can easily think that it's impossible to realistically move past the awful things that are happening...and yet, here we are. And everything has been so completely, intricately plausible". comment. 30 August 2009. (Accessed 24 January 2010)
  18. raincitygirl. "All the sexiness is happening in the conversations, and the looking at each other. Go figure. The slashiest slash story that ever slashed, and the protagonists are living like Jane Austen characters." comment. 5 September 2009. (Accessed 24 January 2010)
  19. saltspray. Slash fiction rec: Captive Prince by freece, 19 June 2010. (Accessed 26 December 2010)
  20. From a thread at the LiveJournal community reviewsanon, 21 Nov 2011 (Accessed 12 Dec 2011)
  21. Date: 2018-09-26 04:11 am (UTC)
  22. Date: 2018-09-26 07:26 am (UTC)
  23. petit_baobab. Captive Prince "facts". 24 October 2009. (Accessed 24 January 2010)
  24. tmelange, dm_wyatt, skig. comment thread. August 31 2009. (Accessed 24 January 2010)
  25. freece in the_slash_pile. Q&A with Freece, 09 March 2011. (10 March 2011)
  26. freece/Cat in Anna Cowan's blog. tension, 12 December 2012. (Accessed 8 February 2013).
  27. captiveprincezine faq page on tumblr. [1], July 21 2016. (Accessed Feb 13 2018).