2.5 stars

Marie Rutkoski – Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1)

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.


So probably I’m in a minority group when I say I didn’t love this book. It was an okay read, good for one time but I won’t reread it, like ever.
And I have to confess I only read it because of the hype around it. Originally the blurb didn’t appeal to me at all but I heard so much good about it I decided to try. I don’t say I regretted it but the book didn’t become my favorite.

I love high fantasy but one by the biggest strengths of books in that genre is the world building. In my opinion the author missed the mark there.
We barely get to know anything about how the world works or even looks like. It doesn’t have an elaborate, deeply developed background, structure. Beside the fact that Valorians conquer everybody. And for me that nowhere near enough. Well yeah there is the map so that helps a little.

The story is full of contradictions and the biggest one is Kestrel. She kind of acts like she is better than anybody else in her social circle, has an air around her, the way she talks about them, their actions, secrets and mistakes. It feels snobbish if you can be a snob among other snobs. Or how she despises the slave keepers yet she uses slaves, too. Doesn’t even try to do anything to initiate change. She is really passive character; I mean if she could she wouldn’t do anything besides playing her piano. Not to mention she is describe as an excellent strategist, but being good in a strategy game doesn’t mean she can equip it in real life especially since she is kind of a socially challenged person.
So to summarize it I don’t like her character, she could have been more badass and I expected her to be and I don’t mean in a warrior kind of way just personality wise.

Arin is different. I don’t feel like I know him. His character, background is so superficially developed that some of the supportive characters easily could overshadow him. It’s a pity really because I think he has the real potential in the book.
And there is his so called love with Kestrel, that one is so out of the blue with next to nothing chemistry between them. Yeah it’s a hard no for me.

Usually in these kind of stories we see things from the “underdogs” side gaining an immediate support for then. In Winner’s Curse we see the story from the conqueror’s side it’s not the traditional approach and one of the good thing in the book. It’s still hard to like the Valorian nation, since they presented like savages who conquer everybody because they think their physical strength makes them the superior nation. They deem everything a weakness they don’t excel in cue Kestrel love for music (another contradiction).

The story is really fast paced regarding the main events. It isn’t a short book but progresses quite quick. And I must confess that I loved the last 2-3 chapter, the story started to get better. Oh, and the pretty cover is another positive motivation for me.

The review is just my opinion don’t judge.


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