Tuesday, March 7, 2017

Series Review of the Winner's Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski

 I have been trying to figure out a way to share all these books I read with you but still include other non-review posts on the blog.  One method I have come up with was to share the reviews for an entire series (or pair) of books in one post.  I will do my absolute best to keep spoilers out of these posts in case you plan to read the books, but there is a slight chance that even the synopsis of a book can give away the result of the previous book. So if you don't want to know anything at all about the later books in a series that might giveaway something in the first book STOP READING NOW!

 Synopsis: "Ignore the stirrings of war. Let the carriage to a royal ball wait. There is a story to be told: of a starless night, a mother and her sick son, and a mortal who falls in love with the snow god, and will do anything to have her..."

My Review: I have really been enjoying this series so of course jump at the chance to read more in this world. While so far (at the beginning of book 3) it doesn't seem to be necessary to the series but it is a nice addition. I liked the look more into the Harani folk stories and beliefs. I really enjoyed it and wish there was more.

My Rating: I really love when authors take so much time to build their world that they actual even create rituals, myths and history. This is not necessary to the storyline of the trilogy but it is still a wonderful addition to have, and I want more! I want a whole book of Harani legends.  I give it a rating of Four Paws.

Synopsis: "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."

My Review: I have heard some great things about this trilogy so decided to pick it up, a choice I do not regret. I love the world that has been created and the constant plotting and maneuvering of the characters. I like how Kestrel is not a proper lady but at the same time balances the power she does hold. It is quite clear that romance is an underlying plot line of the story, it could easily take over but I like how it hasn't fully done so, the characters while attracted and occasionally act on attraction, it doesn't change who they are or the choice they make fully. This is definitely a series to binge read.
My Rating: This was a great kick off to the series, I am immediately drawn in by the world building and characters. There are hints of romance but it doesn't take over the story or alter the actions of the characters.  I give this one a rating of Four Paws!
Synopsis: "Book two of the dazzling Winner's Trilogy is a fight to the death as Kestrel risks betrayal of country for love.

The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement... if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret.

As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them."

My Review: I continue to inhale this series, it is a real page turner. If you like fantasy and political intrigue definitely pick these books up! I continue to really enjoy Kestrel, she is conniving but obviously not totally unfeeling. She has chosen a very tight rope that she must walk and I love each page, just waiting to see if things will tip one way or another. I have come to like Arin but find him not to be careful enough in his actions or words. You see the plot lines moving and you know the inevitable will happen but you just keep hoping it won't. I am starting to wonder when Verex will stop being a toss away character, maybe he will play more of a role in the next book. So much double speaking and court politics to work through but so well done you don't feel like you are having to think as hard as clearly Kestrel must.
My Rating: So much plotting and planning throughout this book, you knew what was going to happen, but you kept rooting for Kestrel to get away with everything. But that couldn't happen without her loosing so much, no matter what it is clear this will be a bittersweet series.  I give this one a rating of Four Paws!
Synopsis: "Some kisses come at a price.

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?"

My Review: What a fantastic conclusion to this series! I didn't want it to end but I also couldn't stop turning the pages. While the previous two books were a little slower to build, this one roared through like a wildfire. There was so much action and strategy throughout the book that it kept you glued to the book. While all of that was going on, you also got to know more of the characters and watch not only them grow within themselves but also watch the relationships between them grow as well. I love the way that Kestrel's mind is always working and always analyzing every situation from different angles. I still adore Arin and his quiet strength, but Rashar has completely stolen my heart. This is a series that I will be adding to my shelves and be revisiting often as I will definitely miss this world and these characters.
My Rating: GAH! Why is it over?! I feel like I already need to re-read this series, I will definitely miss this world and all the characters throughout the book. I really like how this series ended, it wasn't pretty but it was realistic in the reactions of the characters.  I give this a rating of Four Paws and a Stump Wag!
Complete Series Review: Now I have seen this series throughout the book community and some people really like it, but I never really saw any crazy hype for it, and now I really wonder why! I am totally obsessed with this series and wish so much that there was more.   This series had a slow building romance, from opposing sides so there was a lot of back and forth. I think there characters reacted in a way appropriate for their world, stations and upbringing.  I also love that while there is a war building throughout the story that the main weapon used throughout is the mind. So much thought and maneuvering of the soldiers and even the creation of new weapons.   I listened to most of these books on Audio CD, and while in my review of the Snow Like Ashes series I really struggled with picturing the world, this time I really had no need for a map, I could picture it all.  The world building is amazing in this book, with such thought given to languages, myths and legends, artwork and history of the different kingdoms. With all of that you would expect some pretty big info dumps, but the world building was very carefully woven into the story that you don't even notice it building around you.  I will be buying the print copies to add to my shelf. I give this series as a whole a rating of Four Paws!!
Have you read any of the books or the whole series? If not will you be picking it up? Did you have a favorite character or moment in the series?


  1. Several of my friends were really into this series so I heard all about it but, of course, haven't read it yet. I need to. Maybe I'll binge read them all in a row like you. I love how you review them all together. I've been wanting to read more series all together like this and then do one big review.

    1. This is really prefer binge reading short series like this, it allows you to really stay in that world and enjoy every moment. I really was impressed with this series and will be adding it to physical shelves too.

  2. I LOVED the Winner's Curse so much. I also loved that the greatest weapon used in the series was the mind. So great! I was a little disappointed with the last book. I missed Kestrel's cleverness and intrigue. I felt like a lot of her was lost. Arin hearing voices bugged me a little as well. Overall, it is a great series.

    1. I am glad you enjoyed it as much as I did, I love how much thought and plotting was involved. While I don't like to have to think too much when reading, I want my characters to LOL! Kestrel did loose a little bit of momentum in the third book but I think it was because she was re-establishing herself and coming to terms with her new views, she did settle into it again towards the end.