Series: The Winner's Trilogy #2
Published by Farrar & Straus & Giroux on March 3, 2015
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy, YA
Source: ARC borrowed thru Around the World ARC Tours
Book two of the dazzling Winner's Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.
The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement…if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.
As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them.
~ The Winner’s Curse was one of the first books I read in the beginning of this year, and it blew me away with it’s goodness. So that put a lot of pressure on book 2. I was concerned it wouldn’t be able to keep the tension that I so loved in the first book- book 2’s are often let downs. But The Winner’s Crime was as amazing as the first book. The drama is just building!
~ The book opens in the winter, and Kestrel manages to bargain with the Emperor for a summer wedding with his son, Prince Verex. Unlike most future father in laws, the Emperor enjoys messing with Kestrel, and has her watch a man be tortured. But still, our Kestrel remains her badass self.
~ Arin is now dealing with the headaches of running a country. Herrani may have been returned to the Herrani people, but the Emperor of Valoria is food taxing them into starvation. And now his spy at court, Thrynne, is missing.
~ Jess visits the palace, and her health is still not perfect. Plus she’s bummed that Kestrel is marrying the prince and not her brother Ronan. I have to admit, that bums me out too. I ship Arin and Kestrel, but Ronan was such a great character in book 1, that I would have been okay with them being the HEA couple.
~ The Emperor basically throws a ball for Kestrel, and Arin shows up with Tensen. Things are TENSE between him and Kestrel, because SECRETS.
~ Jess freaks when she sees Arin at the Valorian court and pretty much runs away and ignores Kestrel for months.
~ I was expecting to hate Prince Verex, but I actually enjoyed his interactions with Kestrel. From her helping him win at Borderlands, to him showing his love for caring for animals and giving her a puppy, there’s a real chance at friendship between the two. Not romance, it’s not a triangle, but he’s not the monster his father is.
~ Although Kestrel and Arin are apart most of the book, their storylines are both pretty fascinating. I especially loved Arin’s journey to the East and his attempt to get Dacra to join forces with Herrani against Valoria.
~ While Ronan is no longer my favorite character (he’s much changed by the events in the last book), Roshar was happy to take his place. In a series full of badass characters, he still manages to stand out. I especially loved his banter with Arin, and the ways he would come up with to kill Arin, eventually. It reminded me of Westley telling Buttercup about his interactions with the Dread Pirate Roberts (“Good night, Westley. Good work. Sleep well. I’ll most likely kill you in the morning.”) in The Princess Bride.
~ This book broke my heart a million times, especially for Kestrel. She has so much dumped on her that a weaker character would have been in a straight jacket sipping on a Valium cocktail while singing The Itsy Bitsy Spider (which is how I deal with stress myself).
~ Also, there is a freaking TIGER in the book. And murder. And betrayal, and twists, and moths. Not like the moths in the Hannibal Lector books though. Cool chameleon moths that I kind of want to own a cloak out of, but I’m afraid that makes me sound like Cruella De Vil?
Kestrel- our heroine, brilliant military strategist, piano playing, independent young woman, now at Court, awaiting her marriage to the Emperor’s son.
Arin- our hero, trying to keep his country free and fed, bitter over Kestrel’s choices.
General Trajan- Kestrel’s father and great military man.
Emperor- ruler of the Valorian court, intent on getting Herrani back and controlling Kestrel.
Jess- Kestrel’s best friend, still recovering from her near death experience. No longer the carefree girl she once was.
Ronan- Jess’ handsome, witty and once-flirtatious brother- one of my favorite characters from the last book, has grown into a sardonic and reckless man.
Prince Verex- the Emperor’s son and Kestrel’s intended. He’s not the son his father wanted.
Tensen- technically he’s the Herroni Minister of Agriculture, but he’s also an adviser to Arin and a spymaster.
Sarsine- Arin’s tough cousin.
Lady Maris- a Senator’s daughter and court gossip.
Princess Risha- captured princess from the Eastern country of Dacra.
Delilah- Kestrel’s dressmaker.
Roshar- Risha’s brother, and brother to the current Dacra queen. Has a shared history with Arin, and will most likely kill him in the morning.
Elinor- the clever water engineer to the Emperor.
As with the first book, choosing just one is hard. But I think the moment that wrenched my heart the most was when Kestrel finally confronted Jess, forcing her to talk. It was so emotional.
There’s also another moment, but it’s so spoilerish I don’t want to mention it in my review.
Stop the Clock:
Remember Midnight Book Release parties? Well, I would totally stay up and attend one for The Winner’s Crime. I may lobby my local Barnes and Noble for it, because I think this is a series capable of filling the void of past Midnight Party Release series- Harry Potter, Twilight (yes, I was at the Breaking Dawn Midnight Release party, no shame in my reading game) and The Hunger Games. Of course, there’s lots of series I’d show up for, but I think there’s something universally awesome about this series.
The Winner’s Crime gets a Midnight Book rating of: