Published: March 4, 2014
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.
I generally, as a rule, don’t read books with story lines in kingdoms or empires past, present, or future. Something about them are off-putting. Maybe it the wars that are always a part of the story. Of course, there are exceptions, like the Selection series by Kiera Cass’s which was fantastic but I think the draw for me was that it was mostly a love story and I’m sure there are others, but they escape me now.
The Winner’s Curse is also a love story with war playing a very important part but it stays in the background for the most part. Kestrel is a General’s daughter who has only know the wealthy way of life because she was only seven when the Valorians conquered the Herran peninsula and enslaved its people. She leads a comfortable, even pampered life in the Herrani capital. Her real love is music, but with her eighteenth birthday approaching, she will soon be forced to choose between enlisting in the army or marrying. In the first chapter of the novel, Kestrel finds herself purchasing a young male Herrani slave named Arin, who comes advertised as a blacksmith as well as a singer of some talent… little does she know that the auctioneer has expectations of placing Arin in the General’s household as a spy.
And Arin, it turns out, isn’t an ordinary slave. A son of a good family before the Valorians conquered the Herrani, he has plans of his own to get back at the foreign oppressors. Which leads to complicated places for both Kestrel and Arin when they find themselves falling in love, or at least deep adolescent lust, with each other.
I won’t go into too much detail, so as not to spoil it, but suffice it to say that things do not go well for their budding romance and there is a huge cliffhanger at the end. I have already finished book two and will report on it in the next couple of days.