The Winner's Curse - The Winner's Trilogy (Rutkoski)

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*This is an old review but I started to think about them randomly the other day and now I want to re-read them something fierce.

Happiness depends on being free, Kestrel’s father often said, and freedom depends on being courageous.

This series is incredible. While book two blows this one out of the water, I still will never get over the language of this book, or Kestrel and Arin (especially Arin). This is a bit slower than the other two but to me, it has just the right amount of world-building, storytelling, and intrigue to really get you excited for book two. Also, for those of you who have never checked this out on audio--DO IT. The narrator gives them accents that I had never thought of them having and it gave me a different perspective on things for sure. 

“My soul is yours,” he said. “You know that it is.”

The Winner’s Curse is the first in a young adult fantasy trilogy. The reader is introduced to Kestrel, the main character, who is the daughter of the Valorian army’s general. Valoria some time ago invaded the Herran peninsula and enslaved its people. One day while Kestrel and her friend Jessa are in the market, they accidentally make their way to the arena where slaves are sold. Kestrel ends up buying one, a young Herrani man who can supposedly sing, for an exorbitant amount of money. Arin, the slave, and Kestrel start a rocky companionship over a game and begin to be honest with each other like they can with no one else. While Kestrel’s mind is on such things as having to choose the military or a marriage before her seventeenth birthday, Arin has been gathering information from the general’s house to aid in a huge rebellion that will allow the Herrani to retake their land. When the plan is executed and is successful, just as Arin and Kestrel were truly beginning to start a relationship, Kestrel needs to decide if she is to remain a prisoner in Arin's old home or to escape and warn her father—and the Emperor, of what has happened.

Happiness depends on being free, Kestrel’s father often said, and freedom depends on being courageous.

This book and series as a whole would not be what it is without the author's beautiful and lyrical writing. It has a tendency to draw you in and submerse you in the world of the Valorian and Herrani people. I got so wrapped up in Kestrel and Arin's characters that I felt actual anxiety when anything bad happened to either of them. Kestrel is easy to relate with, even though she is from a wealthy family, and you want Arin’s rebellion to succeed, even if it means that Kestrel’s people will be killed. I also wanted so badly for the two of them to just set aside their differences and be together, even though that really seemed like it might be impossible. This series reminded me a lot of Tamora Pierce’s Trickster’s Choice and Trickster’s Queen with all of the intrigue and overthrowing of the government. I recommend this series to anyone who likes fantasy, strong female lead characters, and great world-building!

‘I wish to thank you,’ she said. “‘I do not deserve thanks,’ said the god. “‘Nevertheless, I want to give it.’
"The god did not reply. Her hands did not move. “He said, ‘Then weave me the cloth of yourself.
“The seamstress set her hands in his. She kissed him, and the god stole her away.”


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Arielle Hemingway
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