The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner’s Curse.

Marie Rutkoski.

Farrar Strauss Giroux, Bloomsbury.

Publishing Date:

4th March 2014.

Historical Fiction, Romance, YA.


Series or stand-alone:
First book in the Winner’s Trilogy.


Point Of View:
Third Person P.O.V.

Why did I pick it up:
The cover. I won’t lie and say that I don’t judge a book by its cover, because its the most important character which first attracts the readers. Also, the summary was intriguing which usually does the job. I was also quite curious with the hype about the book on social networking sites.

“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, Kestral has two choices: she can join the military or get married. Kestrel has other ideas.
One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in Arin, a young slave up for auction. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him – and for a sensational price that sets the society gossips talking. 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 is much higher than she ever could have imagined.

I quite liked how Marie wrote the whole story. It was hard not to think about the whole romance between the slave and the mistress as incest, but as the story unfolded it became pretty interesting and I didn’t get dissapointed with their relation.
Although there were a few instances where I felt that their relation just went from 0% to 70% all of a sudden, without a gradual increase. It seemed unreal at times since they didn’t really do anything romantic or even knew each other that well.
But I do ship them. Both stubborn, royalties (one became a slave after the other vanquished them) whose families were enemies.
The historical setting was interesting to know about, and I would have loved to know more about it. I was quite dissapointed there wasn’t much information regarding the Empire and the Valorians and the Herranis.
The plot was solely focused on these two main characters whereas there could have been much more information about the side characters such as the General, the Emperor, the Herrani leader – Cheat, the Nurse- Enai, etc.
I do love the whole concept of the Herranis as the slaves who start a revolution against the Valorians.
All in all, a good concept with a few flaws.

The Valorian General’s daughter’s character as well as the people around her have been portrayed to be perfect.
She doesn’t want to get married or join the military even though those two were the only options. She’s stubborn, doesn’t care what people think as she takes stupid decisions which affect her image in the society. She also seems to have a great mind for games and strategies or as she puts it, think of the obvious. But she’s not a fighter.
She isn’t interested in dresses and balls and men. She just gets lost in music.

A slave who supposedly is a singer but refuses to sing, a talented blacksmith and a second in hand to the Herrani leader. He’s shown to be perfect as well. Not paying heed to any other female attention, he falls for his mistress through a couple of games and through her music. He plays a vital role in the uprising and is passionate, observant and who thrives to achieve his goals.

The characters didn’t really develop much throughout the book. The importance of Arin being undercover at the general’s house has been understated. No further information regarding his background and how he managed to get the plan in play was missing.
Kestrel even though a good main character doesn’t connect to anyone I know. She’s the stereotypical heroine who saves everyone in the end which is kinda dull.

The ending: *spoiler*
I was dissapointed a bit with the ending, because the emperor just doesn’t wed his son to a general’s daughter he hardly knows. Its just not normal. Plus, how did she survive and reach there? No description given.
And Arin agrees to all the conditions put forward. So all that fighting for nothing?
He also let’s her go. Like what.
But the seige was good. The part where Kestrel was no longer in control was a bit prolonged and boring.
But, the cliff-hanger definitely did its work. I am dying to get the second book in my hands. With all the flaws, the amazingly flowing writing made it up and created a contradicting statement and altered my view about the book from bad to good.

” Happiness depends on being free and freedom depends on being courageous.”

“I suppose neither of us is the person we were believed we would become.”

“Isn’t that what stories do? Make real things fake, and fake things real.”

“People in brightly lit places cannot see into the dark.”

“Nothing in your dreams can hurt you.”

“Cold without, color within. This was how it had been.”


A must read for historic fiction lovers and romance lovers.

Until later.

4 thoughts on “The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Leave a Reply

Fill in your details below or click an icon to log in: Logo

You are commenting using your account. Log Out /  Change )

Google photo

You are commenting using your Google account. Log Out /  Change )

Twitter picture

You are commenting using your Twitter account. Log Out /  Change )

Facebook photo

You are commenting using your Facebook account. Log Out /  Change )

Connecting to %s