Kestrel is a high ranking general's daughter and lives a luxurious life in the land of Valoria's conquered enemies. She doesn't know what it's like to suffer, to lose a home, friends and family. But Arin does.
While at the market, Kestrel stumbles upon a slave auction and on a whim buys a slave. The slave, Arin, turns out to be different from the others, more defiant, more intelligent. And Kestrel can't help but fall for his spirit and intelligence (finally someone that will give her a run for her money playing Bite and Sting). But as the story advances, things between Kestrel and Arin get more and more complicated. The first instalment of The Winner's Trilogy, The Winner's Curse, is full of lies, rumours, duels, rebellion, strategy and so much more.
Rate: 4.5 stars
I throughly enjoyed this book. The characters were intelligent and well developed. The story itself was very intriguing, and left me wanting the next instalment. The world was interesting and well put together. And the writing was just beautiful. Here are a few examples:
"Jess had wandered off to look at the wares. Kestrel saw her weaving like a flower-drunk bee through the stall, her pale blond hair almost white in the summer sun."
"Everyone thronged around the pit was looking at her: the general's daughter, a high society bird who flitted from one respectable house to the next."
"Kestrel held the child, her eyes trained on but not really seeing his fine white hair, stirring in the faint wind like dandelion fluff."
If that's not enough for you, read the book! Seriously, pick it up! If you are sick of your typical stubborn, not super bright female leads in the YA genre, this is the book for you. Or if you are just looking for a good, enthralling read, pick it up.
Like I said above the characters were intelligent. And I was so glad about this. I was so tired of unintelligent main characters making idiotic decisions. And boy was I (gladly) surprised when I read this. Not only was Kestrel intelligent, but so was Arin, and I thought that they challenged each other with their intelligence. I thought they complemented each other nicely. Also, Kestrel wasn't a natural born fighter, which was interesting to see (in a good way), because in other novels like this one, the main character is usually good at fighting. Luckily Kestrel's strategic mind made up for her of lack fighting sills, and was able to actually get her out of some tough situations. Oh, and I was also glad that she turned down the option of joining the military because she knew that she could make strategic moves that could ruin people's lives.
Now the world that Kestrel and Arin lived in was interesting. I thought the world building was done well. It was sprinkled into the story and we learned more about the history and customs of Valoria and Herran as the novel progressed. And I actually found myself interested in the customs of the countries and the world that they lived in.
I enjoyed that this book, even though it was described as a romance, it wasn't all about the romance. It was much more than your run-of-the-mill contemporary or romance. We had rebellion, action and dirty secrets. Initially I was not expecting Arin to be involved in the rebellion. Or for him to be undercover to attain information. But as the story progressed, you could see that Arin started to care more about the lives he was effecting with the rebellion (not that the rebellion was necessarily a bad thing).
Speaking of the rebellion, I really did not like, or trust for that matter, Cheat. He just rubbed me the wrong way, and was doing all the wrong things with the rebellion. Sure he had the city under under his control, but that was with the help of Arin. Plus he treated Kestrel horribly. I was glad when Arin finally figured out that he wanted to get rid of Kestrel, and killed him when he found him in Kestrel's room.
At the end of the book, it was hard to tell which side Kestrel was on. She fled the city that the rebels took to warn the emperor, but she made a deal with him to marry his son to stop another war. She still cares for Arin, but seems to be playing for the other side, but Arin doesn't know that. It just keeps getting more and more complicated between these two. It seems like Kestrel doesn't want to betray her country, but she has begun to see what they have done to the Herrani (Arin). So she seems pretty conflicted.
Anyways, I'm so excited for the next book in this trilogy, and can't wait to see where it goes!