REVIEW: Prize of the Alien Captain by Cordelia Archer

For thousands of years, the Elven Empire has dominated the universe, conquering every planet in its path and ruthlessly enslaving all who stand against it. Elf Captain Razan Allerias never questioned his duty, until he is rewarded by the Empress herself with a prize he never wanted: a human slave.

To Alex, freedom was only a distant myth. Born into slavery, abused by his former master, and sent to auction once his master tired of him, Alex learned to live by one rule: never trust an elf. When he is bought by a captain in the Elven Armada, Alex wants nothing more than to do his duty as a companion slave and fulfill his master’s every desire. He never expected that the only thing his master would desire would be solitude.

Warnings: Dubcon, mind control, mention of past abuse

Category: M/M

Prize of the Alien Captain is a short little sci-fi slavefic novel centred on interpersonal relationship drama and hurt/comfort. It is the first in a series, and is followed by Gift of the Alien Royal. Razan is a Captain in a tyrannical alien regime that’s taken over and subjugated the Galaxy, and Alex is one of a rare few humans left, raised as a slave within the alien Empire. Razan doesn’t have any desire for a slave, but is gifted the opportunity to select one at an auction by the Empress, as a reward for his military service, which is how Alex comes to be in Razan’s keeping. The story centres around the two of them slowly getting to know each other, forming a friendship and eventually a romance, amidst the perils of elven politics.

WRITING
This, honestly, feels a little more like the outline or structure of a story than like a completed story. There’s a lot of things that could have stood to be actually shown instead of told to the reader; like Razan’s life in the Empire, what he does, what his job is like, why he hates Nobles so much, what sort of background he comes from. He has an ex lover, whom he apparently hates and mistrusts, but little is shown as to why. Alex’s past, similarly, is also barely touched on, but we are meant to understand that he has both physical as well as emotional scars from his previous owners. Certainly more of this may be explored in future books, and book two sheds light on some of these questions, but even ignoring the character’s backstories there’s plenty about their personalities that is only ever assumed and never shown. There are just a lot of opportunities in even just book 1 to expand on the setting and characters that get glossed quickly by.

EMOTIONAL ENGAGEMENT
I did find both of these characters to be quite charming! There’s a tsundere quality to Razan that makes him rather endearing, with his lack of emotional honesty and shy fumbling through social anxiety. The author clearly loves and is invested in these characters as well, and there’s a real care put into the interpersonal dynamics of the story, which is more or less what the narrative revolves around. Razan’s ex is even an engaging feature of the plot, and she was pretty entertaining in a chaotic kind of way. I do wish that the author had taken a little more time letting the characters showcase their personalities rather than time skipping through the plot points, but for the short piece that it was it was engaging enough on an emotional level to be very fun, and I really enjoyed the drama of it all. It’s a wonderfully character driven story.

WORLDBUILDING
There is, unfortunately, a lot of missed potential with the worldbuilding, once again because it’s too short to be super well fleshed out as a setting. There’s plenty that might have been interesting about this setting; there’s an elven empire that’s been successful at conquering a large portion of the Galaxy including Earth, but is still at war with other areas and still participating in ongoing military campaigns. Who are they fighting against? Are there rebels at large? What is life like as a military Captain? What is life like as a slave? None of this is explored in book 1 despite it being the setting for a story that wants to have forays into political drama but instead keeps it’s characters in Razan’s apartment for almost the duration. With a little more exploring, this is a rather fascinating setting, but it shouldn’t wait for elements of it to be needed by the plot in order to showcase them. Again, book 2 does answer some of these questions, but I would have liked to have felt more properly immersed in the scenery in book 1.

STEAMINESS
The smut content in this book is actually incredibly charming. It’s not my usual hard kink fare at all, but it does present a very fun bit of alien fucking. Elves in this setting are quite a bit different than humans… anatomically. Most notably, they have retractable and prehensile tentacles for dicks, which is always a fun time. Watching Razan and Alex explore each other’s foreign bodies was a joy and really quite sexy in a cute and fumbling kind of way. If you’re into alien fucking that actually gives the aliens some differing anatomy for the human to figure out, this is really very sweet. Their shy progression towards realizing their feelings for each other was the highlight of the novel and I really loved reading it for this reason. Bring on the alien smut!!

All together the only area that this story falters in is in length. It needed to be longer and more carefully fleshed out to really bring out it’s world, characters, and plot. There’s a lot of really fascinating ideas at play in this book that I would have loved to see the author delve deeper into. But, for what it is, it was an enjoyable read and I had a lot of fun with it! And I will continue to read the series as it comes out.

 

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