Published by Macmillan on 2014-03-04
Genres: Fantasy & Magic, Love & Romance, Social Issues, Violence, Young Adult
Source: ARC borrowed thru Around the World ARC Tours
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.
~ First off- if you are the type of reader who is put off by books because they have so much praised heaped upon them before they’re even released, then STOP READING NOW. In fact, read no reviews AT ALL for this book. Skip over any mention of it in your blog roll, email, or however you come across reviews. Because this book is going to get a lot of well-deserved hype, and I want you to read this sooner rather than later, because if it’s later you’ll be all sad panda about being the last one to read this awesome book and you will blame people like me for making you sick of the book with my massive amounts of fan girl love that I am about to spew forth over The Winner’s Curse , which will cover the internet like a plague of locusts. Wow, is that a lot of mixed metaphors or what?!
~ I did not think I was going to like this book. I signed up for the arc tour merely because there was a blurb about it being for fans of Kristin Cashore, and I’m a huge fan of Cashore. Rutkoski is no clone though, she’s completely awesome in her own right, but I can say that both authors are fantastic at world building and ass kicking heroine-ing. These are totally the girls you want your kids reading about, the ones that can kick some mental and physical ass and still look damn good in that pretty, pretty dress.
~ I loved Kestrel. She likes to play cards, which for some reason I found charming, and although she’s tough, she’s not interested in joining the military as a female warrior, nor does she really want to marry, despite the fact that as a member of the upper class she must choose one or the other.
~ I had not previously heard of the term “winner’s curse” but it’s when you win an auction, but only because you pay a very high price.
~ Kestrel is not comfortable with slavery, or her people’s ruling over the Herrani, so when she sees the auctioneer ridiculing Arin, she buys him, although the fact that her father needs a blacksmith and that the auctioneer claims Arin is a singer, certainly factored into it.
~ Kestrel is a Valorian, years ago her people conquered and enslaved the Herrani. They also stole their culture, much the same way as the Romans did to the Greeks.
~ The book’s pov alternates in between Kestrel and Arin, which I loved. Seeing the one through the other’s eyes was a great way to see how their relationship grew- absolutely no insta- love here!
~ There are a lot of twists in this book, with characters rarely being what they seem, nothing about this story is typical though. It’s mixing romance with fantasy, with dystopian and mystery and historical fiction thrown in.
~ I can’t really think of any downsides to this book, other than it does take awhile to figure out the history of the Valorians and the Herranis, although I’m glad that Rutkoski didn’t do an information dump. Some of the history and rules of the world she’s created are learned through action, some through history lessons Kestrel takes from her father.
~ I thought for a bit that this was going to be a love triangle, and I have to admit, I was Team Ronan for awhile. Mostly that was do to the slow burn that built between Arin and Kestrel. Their attraction is so not good for either one of them- Kestrel has a duty to her father, and Arin is a man trying to do right by his people. They are at cross purposes. It’s just… it’s just amazing. It can’t be fixed with a simple conversation, it’s so much deeper than that.
~ Both Kestrel and Arin are completely their own people, they aren’t lost and then suddenly found, although their relationship brings clarity, it also brings a lot of tough, if not impossible, choices.
~ The Valorians are warriors, they were jealous of the Herrani, and in turn also thought the Herrani looked down on them. I’m sure the Herrani were all wtf when the Valorians came and crushed them into obedience. Brute force can often win battles, might can conquer will, but not every man or woman will submit so easily to slavery, and it’s Arin’s character that best illustrates this. I can’t imagine what it’s like for the Herrani who remember being free to suddenly find themselves slaves.
~ This is getting ridiculously long, so I’m going to cut my mic- I just want to say that so much happens in this first book. Most trilogies don’t have as much action and emotion spread out in all 3 books, let alone in the first novel. I am so amped up for what Rutkoski has in store for us in the rest of the series!!!
Kestrel- our 17 year old heroine, brilliant military strategist, piano playing, independent young woman.
Arin- born free, now he is a slave, bought by Kestrel.
General Trajan- Kestrel’s father and great military man.
Enai- Kestrel’s old nurse, second mother to her, whom Kestrel had freed.
Jess- Kestrel’s best friend, content with her life.
Ronan- Jess’ handsome, witty and flirtatious brother- one of my favorite characters!
Cheat- Herrani slave auctioneer.
Lord Irex- he’s the thorn in Kestrel’s side.
Probably the scene that instantly won my heart to this book was the duel between Irex and Kestrel. It was drama and action and wit and war! Kestrel proved that one does not always have to be the strongest physically to win.
Stop the Clock:
Have you ever felt lucky to read a book? That’s how I felt while reading The Winner’s Curse, like I was lucky to be holding it in my hands because it’s a precious thing. I have a feeling that this will be my most recommended book of 2014, the YA book I will give to people who don’t read YA, the Fantasy book I will give to people who claim not to like Fantasy, the Romance book, well, you get the picture. I’m so excited for this book, I can’t wait to have the hardcover gracing my shelves, and I’m definitely going to need two copies, one to keep and one to loan.
Marie Rutkoski— Website |Marie Rutkoski
The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1) gets a Midnight Book rating of: