While the plot and characters of the Captive Prince trilogy are outstanding and brilliant, I think my favorite part about the series is the way C.S. Pacat uses gorgeous turns of phrase and cunning language to evoke this unbelievable emotional response in her readers. The way Laurent talks, the imagery that describes the world, it all comes together to make Captive Prince a stunning work of literature.
With Kings Rising, there were several times that I found myself pausing mid-read, noting a particularly lovely bit of dialogue, or a paragraph that could be dissected into much more than what it appeared to be.
(PS, there are spoilers within!)
These are my top five quotes from Kings Rising. What are yours?
It was harder to let go of the battle, to leave his plans at their midway point, to accept that the deadline had come and gone, and that whatever now happened on the border, he would not be a part of it. The Akielon slave would (of course) assume treachery on the part of the Veretian forces, after which he would launch some sort of noble and suicidal attack at Charcy that he would probably win, against ridiculous odds.
This speaks volumes about Laurent’s character. Even with the sarcasm masking his frustration, it’s clear that he has an incredible amount of faith in Damen, and recognizes Damen’s abilities as a General.
The fact that he still calls him The Akielon slave in his head, of course, later led to a burst of laughter from me!
‘There was a man I was supposed to meet. He’s got all these ideas about honour and fair play, and he tries to keep me from doing the wrong thing. But he’s not here right now. Unfortunately for you.’
Again, this says so much about Laurent. Even when he’s cold and calculating, and when he’s at odds with everyone around him, he makes it clear where his trust and alliances lie: with Damen, who is honorable and a good man. And I think it implies that Laurent does not think himself either of those things… except his faith in Damen proves otherwise!
‘I’ve come to tell you who I am.’
Laurent was so keenly familiar, the shade of his hair, the strapped down clothing, the full lips that he held tense or cruelly repressed, the ruthless asceticism, the unbearable blue eyes.
‘I know who you are, Damianos,’ said Laurent.
We all knew this was coming. It was probably the least surprising scene in the entire book, from my perspective. But what I love here is the way Damen sees Laurent… the stunning portrait that is painted of a man desperate to keep control of himself and his reactions.
‘No. Listen Damianos. You trust blindly. You see the world in absolutes– if you believe someone a foe, nothing will dissuade you from arming up to fight. But when you give your affections… When you give a man your loyalty, your faith in him is unswerving. You would fight for him with your last breath, you would hear no word spoken against him, and you would go to the grave with his spear in your side.’
While the previous paragraphs are all about Laurent, this observation from Nikandros about Damen is so spot-on that I read it two or three times. And it shows perfectly how Damen and Laurent complement each other; Laurent who can’t trust anyone (except Damen), and Damen who trusts everyone (especially Laurent).
‘If you’re this angry,’ said Laurent, ‘you should fight a real opponent.’
‘There’s no one–‘ Damen stopped, but the unspoken words hung, dangerous with the truth. There was no one good enough to fight him. Not in this mood. In this mood, angry and unable to hold back, he would kill them.
‘There’s me,’ said Laurent.
Be still, my heart! This little exchange is everything. I feel like this is the way Laurent says I love you, in a way, because he’s saying that there’s no one else out there for Damen. No one else who can match him, evenly, man to man. There’s no one who can be there for Damen when he needs support, no one who can alleviate his temper. Just Laurent, the only equal he has.
You can also check out my (spoiler-free) review of Kings Rising here: