My rating in stars: 4,5 stars
My rating in words: Love this book
What it’s about:
“This was Vere, voluptuous and decadent, country of honeyed poison”
Damen is a warrior hero to his people, and the truthful heir to the throne of Akielos, but when his half brother seizes power, Damen is captured, stripped of his identity and sent to serve the prince of an enemy nation as a pleasure slave.
Beautiful, manipulative and deadly, his new master Prince Laurent epitomizes the worst of the court at Vere. But in the lethal political web of the Veretian court, nothing is as it seems, and when Damen finds himself caught up in a play for the throne, he must work together with Laurent to survive and save his country.
For Damen, there is just one rule: never, ever reveal his true identity. Because the one man Damen needs is the one man who has more reason to hate him than anyone else…
This book. Can I just rave about this book for a minute? Or forever? This was so incredibly addictive that I had to start the second one immediately after finishing this one and I’ve even already finished the second one too. In a day. And now I want the third book but I have to wait for it to arrive in the mail and it is torture.
I picked up this book because I saw so many good reviews on this (each book in the serie is rated between 4.2 and 4.64 stars on Goodreads) and so many people raving about it that my interest was piqued and I had to give it a try. And when I was at about page 3 I was already hooked completely and speeding through this and I totally understood what all the hype was about. I will gladly add to that hype now: this is an amazing book! The only reason I gave it 4,5 stars instead of 5 is that the second book is even better!
This is the first book in a M/M fantasy romance series set in an ancient Greece/ancient Rome inspired setting. I loved this setting, it was so different from the fantasy series I usually read. This setting, together with the characters and the plot make this such a great read.
Plotwise, I love the court intrigues, politics and deceptions. There is so much going on at court and nothing is what it seems and that just keeps you on your toes throughout the book. There can be a double meaning behind every word, every sentence and I think this is definitely worth a reread just to catch some more of these and see them in a different light.
But the characters are really what elevates this story from good to completely captivating. Especially the main characters, Damen and Laurent, and their interactions are such a treat. Because you see things from Damen’s POV as a reader, you are also a bit biased but it is so much fun to learn to see everything in a new light over time, together with Damen. The greatest joy is watching the transformation of the relationship between these two characters and seeing it go from pure hatred to reluctant partners in crime. The romance itself is practically non-existant in this book, but I love how this excruciatingly slow burn is written. There is still so much potential for the characters and their relationship to grow in the next books.
The book is very dark and brutal though and may not be for everybody. There are very graphic scenes involving flogging and rape, but if this puts you off I would still suggest you to look beyond that and continue reading. Because this story is so much more than just graphic violence and sex. It is a gorgeous character story filled with court politics and intrigue and it is only the beginning. I highly recommend having the second book ready as soon as you finish this one because it is even better.
“A golden prince was easy to love if you did not have to watch him picking wings off flies.”
“Torveld favoured Laurent with another of those long, admiring looks that were starting to come with grating frequency. Damen frowned. Laurent was a nest of scorpions in the body of one person. Torveld looked at him and saw a buttercup.”
“Laurent could inspire homicidal tendencies simply by breathing.”
“He’s the captive Kastor sent you to train?’ said Torveld, curiously. ‘He’s–safe?’
‘He looks combative, but he’s really very docile and adoring,’ said Laurent, ‘like a puppy.’
‘A puppy,’ said Torveld.
To demonstrate, Laurent picked up a confection of crushed nuts and honey and held it out to Damen as he had at the ring, between thumb and forefinger.
‘Sweetmeat?’ said Laurent.
In the stretched-out moment that followed, Damen thought explicitly about killing him.”