The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1) by Marie Rutkoski
Published: March 04, 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Source/Edition: Bought at BookOutlet, Hardcover
Summary provided by Goodreads
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.
Okay … okay. First things first. WHY DID I WAIT ALL THIS TIME TO READ THIS BOOK?! The Winner’s Curse has been on my TBR shelf for months now! What a pleasant surprise! I’ve been disappointed before on hyped books and I was worried that it would happen to this book, too. Luckily, I was blown away! Just with the first book, it’s already shaping up to be a favorite trilogy — of course pending on the last two books. Oh, and just look at that cover! So stunning! Let’s get to the real review.
“Happiness depends on being free, and freedom depends on being courageous.”
The writing was fantastic. It was wonderfully paced. It wasn’t too fast and it never slowed down where I felt bored. It even had talk of politics — actually a lot of politics and strategy. If you didn’t know, I despise all that kind of stuff so if a book has it and I liked it this much, well … it’s a miracle. I love the style of the writing. It wasn’t repetitive and the imagery — wow! It felt like I was right there experiencing everything myself. It was beautiful to read. The plot well thought out. It can be a little predictable but it still surprised you in some parts of the book. The ending literally hurt my heart. Actually a lot of the book hurt my heart so much it made me cry.
“He knew the law of such things: people in brightly lit places cannot see into the dark.”
I really enjoyed the concept. It was different and it’s always difficult to create a whole new universe and coming up with language, gods, places, and citizens. I do wish that there was a map to help you visualize the locations of some of the landmarks that the characters visited. I understand why there wasn’t because it’s really just the Valorian/Herrani peninsula but I do love maps. The world building was great, too. The Valorian history wasn’t just told within a page and regurgitated. I like that it was spread throughout the book where you learn bits and pieces and get to connect them. I loved learning about the Herrani wars and the fact that it is written in different characters’ views makes it so hard for you to choose a side and makes you compassionate towards both Krestel and Arin.
“Survival isn’t wrong. You can sell your honor in small ways, so long as you guard yourself. you can pour a glass of wine like it’s meant to be poured, and watch a man drink, and plot your revenge.”
The characters take the spotlight in the book. The good guys were good, bad guys were bad. Perfect. Let’s start with Krestel. I love her! I respect her! Her actions throughout the book were fantastic. They were thought out and strategical — what can you expect from the general’s daughter. She’s smart, compassionate, fierce, eccentric, strong, selfless, and knows her worth. Her father really surprised me. After reading the synopsis I expected a father like the king of Adarlan from Throne of Glass or the king of Illea from The Selection. Instead, we get a father who actually cares for his daughter. Okay, so he’s trying to get her to join the military and expects a lot out of her but in the end, he loves her so much and some of their scenes together — especially the duel — were so touching, I teared up!
“My soul is yours. You know that it is.”
Arin … oh Arin. He is the cause of my pain. Well, him and Krestel but let’s talk about Arin. I love him. He’s so complex and at every turn, he’s surprising you. We first meet him and he’s this hard shell, unyielding to his master/mistress. You can clearly tell he detests being treated as a slave. I loved watching the wall he built around himself slowly crumble around Krestel. I love that it didn’t happen quickly. I love that he was so resistant to it that he didn’t even see it coming until it was too late. Even I thought that it would never come! How cute is their romance — and gut-wrenching and tragic yet beautiful?! I love how their relationship isn’t just centered on their feelings but on something greater and bigger than them. It’s absolutely complicated and it was written so beautifully.
Do yourself a favor and read this book as soon as possible! You won’t regret it! The only thing I regret is not reading it sooner.