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Prince's Gambit is the second novel in the Captive Prince trilogy. The book debuted as a free web serial. Shortly after its completion, it was self-published under the pen name S. U. Pacat on February 4th, 2013, before being subsequently published by Penguin Berkley under the pen name C. S. Pacat on July 7th, 2015.[1][2]

The S. U. Pacat eBooks and the C. S. Pacat physical books include an extension of Chapter 19, called Chapter 19.5. This extra chapter is not included in the S. U. Pacat physical books or the C. S. Pacat eBooks.


With their countries on the brink of war, Damen and his master Prince Laurent exchange the intrigues of the palace for the sweeping might of the battlefield as they travel to the border to avert a lethal plot.

Leading a band of loyal men against desperate odds, Damen must fight together with Laurent to overcome machinations, ambushes and betrayals. With the future of both their nations at stake, a single misstep could be fatal.

Despite himself, Damen is increasingly drawn to the dangerous, charismatic Laurent. But even as the fledgling trust between the two men deepens, their enemies are poised to deal them a final devastating blow . . .[3]


Chapter 1[]

Now a member of Laurent's campaign south, Damen arrives with the Prince's men at Chastillon, one of the many Veretian keeps between the capital and the border. Though Chastillon is meant to hold a large host of the Regent's soldiers for Laurent's use, they prove to be lazy and antagonistic to the Prince's soldiers. Damen comes across a few of the Regent's men in a dispute with Aimeric, a Veretian soldier, who has taken offense from their insults of Prince Laurent. Damen manages to break it up.

It becomes apparent to Damen that the soldiers are all mostly untrained and undisciplined, and that their lax attitude is not challenged by their captain, Govart — a known thug of the Regent — who does little more than bark orders and shirk off the rest of his responsibilities. Most of said responsibilities fall to Jord, one of the Prince's Guard who has come to respect Damen as a hard-working asset to the Prince. Meanwhile, Damen is still receiving medical care from Paschal, the Veretian physician, for his back wounds.

On Jord's orders, Damen is sent to find Govart and bring him back to Laurent, but finds him instead having sex with the stableboy of the keep. Afterwards, Damen reports to the castellan of the keep, who leads him to Laurent's bedchambers. When Laurent's business with Govart has ended, he joins Damen, explaining that he needs Damen's help explaining the territory they are about to embark upon, since he is familiar with it. Damen, however, distrusts Laurent's intentions of them being alone together, and Laurent says that if Damen wishes to kill him, he could do so at any point — though it behooves both of them now to focus on the Regent's threat than each other.

Chapter 2[]

After an entire night of planning out the routes of their journey to the border, Laurent eventually decides against a straight path south, instead skirting along the borders of Patras and Vask to reach the border. After a day's ride, the group sets up camp — slowly and inefficiently, due to the poor training — and Damen overhears Orlant, another of the Prince's Guard, speaking angrily with Aimeric about yet another altercation he has been in with the Regent's men. Hoping to avoid violence between factions, Damen informs Jord of the conversation, hoping Jord can talk sense into Orlant's rage. Damen spends another night discussing tactics with Laurent.

The following morning, Damen enters the camp's makeshift training grounds to find Orlant, angry that Damen has gone behind his back to tell on him to Jord and challenges him to a fight. Damen wins. Laurent, who has witnessed the whole thing, privately tells Damen with shocked realization that Damen is a better fighter than he is. Afterwards, Jord tells Damen that he never meant for Orlant's anger to fire back at Damen.

On the third night, while camped at Bailleux Keep, a fight breaks out between Aimeric and Lazar, one of the Regent's men. Govart, instead of disciplining the men, slaps Aimeric and announces that anyone who retaliates against Lazar will be flogged. Damen goes to Laurent afterwards to advise that Aimeric, not Lazar, be turned out of the camp, because he is too much of a distraction and an instigator to the other men. Laurent reveals that Aimeric is Councillor Guion's youngest son and therefore cannot be turned out because of Guion's hold over Fortaine, one of the valuable border castles. Damen also tells Laurent that he thinks Govart ought to be turned off because of his insubordinate behavior and irresponsible captaincy, but Laurent makes no final decision on the matter.

Chapter 3[]

Just before bed, Damen witnesses Laurent writing and sending off a dispatch that he has sealed with his signet. In the morning, Damen sees Laurent speaking with Lazar and Aimeric about their dispute, then calls for Govart to settle the matter. Govart, shirking his duties as usual, takes several minutes to be found, in which time, the entire camp has gathered to witness the scene. It is revealed that Govart was found receiving oral sex from one of the women of the keep. This is a particularly crude revelation due to Veretian customs of heterosexual intercourse out of wedlock, but Govart is unashamed of his actions and disrespectfully refuses to respond to Laurent's discipline. When Govart accuses Laurent of harboring sexual feelings for his own brother, Auguste, Laurent challenges Govart to a duel. Damen, horrified, believes that Laurent (a pampered prince with little experience or work ethic) will surely be bested by Govart's strength, size, and experience. Instead, Laurent disarms Govart several times before Govart, frustrated and humiliated, charges at Laurent, an act that is seen as a treasonous breaking of the rules of engagement. Laurent runs him through the shoulder with his sword, then has him stripped and turned off. He also sends off four witnesses — two men of his own guard, one of the Regent's men, and one keep attendant — to report to the Regent what has happened to Govart.

Damen, shocked and surprised, finds Laurent afterwards and asks if Laurent paid the keep woman to approach Govart for sex. Laurent admits that he did pay the keep woman to approach Govart in the hopes it would lead to a confrontational opportunity to best Govart, but that it was Govart himself who made the poor choice. Damen advises against Laurent that trying to win his soldiers over with deceit and manipulation, but Laurent insists that there isn't enough time for him to win them over naturally while also whipping them into proper shape for an approaching campaign against his uncle.