Damen can no longer hide his past as it is revealed that he is really Damianos, the rightful king of Akielos. He and Laurent had finally come to not just a truce, but a place of growing affection, and now Laurent will know that it is Damen who killed his brother all those years ago. But the men don’t have time to deal with the past as they are caught up in a battle for both their kingdoms.
The Regent of Vere and Damon’s brother Kastor have each grabbed onto the power in their respective countries, and even worse, have allied together. Now Damen and Laurent have to find a way to bring their armies together despite a long history of hatred between the two countries. But even as their armies grow in power, it may not be enough, as the Regent continues to manipulate the situation and seems to be one step ahead. Laurent and Damen are the rightful heirs and are determined to find their way back to their thrones, but they may not survive the battles, intrigue, and deception that lay in their path to victory.
Kings Rising is the long-awaited finale to C.S. Pacat’s amazing Captive Prince trilogy and I am thrilled that this book met even my incredibly high expectations for the story’s conclusion. The hallmark of this series for me has been the amazing cleverness, the chess moves and politics and the way we never quite know what people are planning. Throughout the series I have found myself just captivated by the intrigue and the moves and countermoves, and we see that yet again in Kings Rising. The series starts with Laurent pitted against the Regent, and that dynamic has carried throughout all three books. Here we also see Damen and Kastor as the war finally comes to Akielos and Damen’s true identity is revealed. I really can’t say enough about the cleverness in these books, the way nothing is quite as it seems, no one’s motives are entirely clear, and there is always more going on than we think. And once again Pacat uses those elements to brilliant effect here in this story.
One of the things I most loved in this final book was seeing another side of Laurent. Yes, he is still the ice prince, able to be cool and cutting and with a mind that is always working. But we also see a softer side in his relationship with Damon, his vulnerability and even get little flashes of a playful side as well. I loved that, because frankly, I adore Laurent beyond reason. Yes, I love Damen because Damen is too good not to love. He is brave and strong and a natural leader. He cares about people and will sacrifice for others without a second thought. But Laurent is the one who fascinates me. The one who has hidden secrets and depths we start to uncover here. He comes across as this cold, horrible man, but that is just a front for his fears and insecurities underneath. Laurent has had his back against the wall for years, and it is only the combination of his brilliance and his defense mechanisms that hold him together. I loved watching his mind work, seeing how he is always about six steps ahead of where we think he is. And I loved seeing him finally soften a bit, open his heart up to Damen, reveal some of his fears, and trust Damen to care for him. Seeing these guys together is amazing and I was rooting for them every step of the way.
Damen continues to be our primary narrator, but to me Laurent is the real star of the show. But I think it makes sense for us to be in Damen’s POV. He is straightforward and honest, and frankly, he is often a step or two behind Laurent or the Regent’s scheming. So it works well for us to see things through Damen’s eyes, so we can discover what is going on as he does, and so we can have those wonderful “aha” moments as we realize what is truly happening.
I also love the way Pacat has developed these characters and this world in parallel. Damen is solid and strong, direct, and with simple, straighforward ideals. And Laurent is like a spider with a web, spinning intricate plans, mind that is always working every angle. And what is so clever is how this plays out in the world building as well. The architecture, the clothing, the fighting styles, everything mirrors the personalities of these men, letting us see how their backgrounds have shaped them. I am just constantly impressed with how Pacat has put all the pieces together in this series.
I could go on and on here as I adored this book and absolutely love this series. This final book is everything that I wanted: dramatic, romantic, suspenseful, twisty, and clever. I was captivated from the very first book right through the ending of the third, and think Pacat has really created a one of a kind series here. If you have read the first two books, you don’t need me to tell you that you absolutely must read Kings Rising. And if by chance you missed this series the first time around, I can’t urge you enough to give it a try, starting with Captive Prince. Kings Rising was amazing and everything I wanted in this final book in the trilogy. Now it is all I can do to stop myself from picking up the first book and starting it all over again!