The Winner’s Curse
The Winner’s Trilogy #1
author : marie rutkoski
pages : [hardcover] 355
memorable quote : Isn’t that what stories do, make real things fake, and fake things real?
favorite characters : kestral & arin
Winning what you want may cost you everything you love
As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.
One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.
But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.
Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.
I’ve been looking forward to reading this book for a while so I was excited to see it at the library. Not only is the cover insanely gorgeous, I thought that the plot seemed pretty interesting and I wanted to see where the author could take it. Now I can say I’m a fan of Marie Rutkoski and will definitely be on the hunt for more of her writing. I loved the twists to this story as well as the characters and the writing style did not disappoint.
Kestrel was a wonderful character. She has her misgivings about the slaves that serve her society but she does nothing active to change her community. She complains about the rules that restrict women yet does little to get out of her father’s power. I thought these would be things that would make me hate her, yet as the story progressed more facets of her personality were shown and I loved how I turned around to start rooting for her. She’s incredibly smart, possibly a better strategist than her father who is a general for the army. She learns how to manipulate situations and people to get what she wants, even if she sometimes doesn’t think about the consequences. I really enjoyed reading about her quick wit and seeing her come up with her own solutions.
It did take me a little while to immerse myself in her society. I read that it was loosely based on the Roman empire, how they treated the Greeks they conquered, and because there were so many similarities to actual events it was hard for me to separate that from fiction. The very fact that women could not walk around unescorted, yet could join the army and be considered as reliable and strong as men, puzzled me. Eventually it was easier for me to come around to that view . . . Though of course I was still ignored by the sexist laws of the empire.
Arin I both loved and hated. Thankfully I liked him at the end. I think what originally made me dislike him was Kestrel’s cliched view of him when she first saw him, how she spoke about how captivating he was and she couldn’t look away from him. That immediate connection to someone who was nobody to her threw me off, as well as Arin’s attitude which I thought made his intentions seem too obvious.
But I’m excited to hear that there will be a continuation to this story because the ending to this left me both satisfied and heartbroken. I want to see what could possibly happen next and I want to learn more about Arin and Kestrel.
I’d recommend this book to anyone who enjoys reading about war and strategy or a different kind of historical romance.