Kestrel lives in an empire that relishes in violence and war. They enslave others they conquer and show no mercy. Kestrel is the general’s daughter, and as such she is aware of the methods of her empire. As a seventeen-year-old young woman, Kestrel has a decision that could alter the rest of her life: she can join the military or get married. A strong, independent woman, Kestrel battles for another option.
Her first act of rebellion commences with her decision to befriend a slave she bought at the auction. This man is no ordinary slave, and Kestrel is quite confused at the whirlwind of emotions he stirs in her. His eyes flash with an intelligence and fire not like anyone she has ever met. Day by day, she learns to love the slave named Arin, but he has sinister secrets that could unravel everything that Kestrel has worked for.
This is a story of vicious riddles and games, where life and death teeters, and everything depends on an earth shattering decision: lose your heart, or lose your soul?
The first book of a trilogy, The Winner’s Curse is an epic novel that begins a whirlwind of fiery romance and adventure on every page. I was hooked immediately. The characters have such conflict within themselves and each other, that Rutkoski so masterfully wove, I felt pulled in all directions, just as, or even more so that the characters themselves!
By far the most interesting aspect of the novel was the romance and tension between Arin and Kestrel. The two both have very life changing secrets that they keep from each other. The suspense is so palpable, that I couldn’t help but devour the book as fast as I could. There were certain times when I was disappointed with a decision a character made in the book, but the ups and downs of the character was necessary for the denouement in the final book, The Winner’s Kiss.
I felt so excited as I read this book. It was unputdownable! This book would be best for those out there who are sappy romantics, who also love action-packed novels. I found myself trying to solve certain mysteries, and also waiting and waiting for the characters to find out something that I already knew. The only downside to this book was the cover. I thought that making Kestrel the only part of the cover really diminished the other character’s worth. I would have rather had a broader picture of the landscape of the empire, or multiple characters, or maybe at least the shadows of other characters. I would give this book a four, because to get a five it would have to rival Harry Potter, which in itself is a near impossible feat.