This week, I give you three book reviews in one: The Winner’s Curse, The Winner’s Crime, and The Winner’s Kiss, all part of the Winner’s trilogy by Marie Rutkoski. Altogether a rousing and emotional, if somewhat ponderous, speculative fantasy series about a young woman, Kestrel, who is the daughter of a general, the owner of a slave, and an unwilling lynchpin in an emperor’s plan for domination.
I can’t agree with this review more, left by Goodreads reviewer Kim: “I can’t speak to the hype, but I can speak to the quality of the book. This is a very, very good YA fantasy. Superb world-building without info-dumping. Well-rounded characters and a romance that allows for the hero and heroine to actually get to know one another. Clean, spare writing that at times, especially toward the end, rises to lyrical beauty. Intelligent—I can’t emphasize that enough—intelligent plotting and strategy (an essential but often sadly underdeveloped element of any book involving politics). Interesting, thought-provoking nuances of slavery, empires, war, and freedom. And an end that allows for the complexity of the book’s cultures and characters and, while setting up for a sequel, also works well as the finish to a standalone volume.”
This one got a bit more ponderous, but still packs quite an emotional punch.
While I was absolutely enthralled with book one of this series, The Winner’s Curse, I was less so with book two, The Winner’s Crime, and even less so with the final book. This book delved too deeply into military strategy and the complexities of Kestrel’s relationships with her dad and with Arin for my taste. It bogged down the plot immensely, I thought, until it was so heavy it could only plod along. Still, it was worth reading the entire series.