Today is a two-for-one! The newest series from Marie Rutkoski—The Winner’s Trilogy—starts off with a wrenching right hook to our fangirl guts, and the second installment spins our heads around.
The first book in the series is based upon an auction theory called The Winner’s Curse (also the title of the book). It says that a bidder will experience this curse when overpaying for an item because of emotional or perceived worth rather than it’s actual worth. Quite a foundation to start with in the story telling world, huh? One that most of us writers would say to ourselves: “Why didn’t I think of that first!!??”
Our heroine, Kestrel, is a conquering general’s daughter. She is set high in society, is accustom to owning slaves, and is not commonly concerned with the morality of it. Yet, one afternoon a crowd witnesses her pay an outrageous price for a seemingly disobedient and possibly troublesome slave, all because he can sing. Music is what sweeps Kestrel away to irrationality, but also to peace.
In the weeks following she isn’t sure that she has gained anything in the purchase. Arin is too outspoken, bends rules, and challenges her authority. He embodies The Winner’s Curse. However, we see that it is possible she got more than what she bid for when she is swept away not by his voice, but by Arin himself.
This is artful, plot-minded, and full of first love that is utterly thwarted by the stations of these two very different—yet altogether similar—people.
I finished this so quickly…you can’t imagine. These characters are enigmatic and for a non-love triangle, I got plenty of who, what, when, and why on their relationship progression.
You’ll also be thanking your luck stars that the second book is out because, oh man! The cliff hanger of an ending!!!
Let’s now talk about The Winner’s Crime. I Have to say most of the time second installments are not that great. It’s usually where I will decide…nope…don’t want to even bother with the third book (as we learned from my post on worst series enders). This however, was tortuously wonderful. Reason being: Kestrel and Arin could NEVER see eye to eye. They were always missing the point, misunderstanding the other, or assuming the worst of the other. DRAMATIC IRONY MUCH? I mean, Rutkoski just drug us through the mud on this, but we love her. Yes, we do! Admit it…you do too!
Kestrel is having to face her choice to save Arin by becoming the crown empress who is pressed under the thumb of a wicked, controlling emperor. They each weave a dangerous web of lies to save the other (crimes against the empire), but they can’t seem to succeed. They won’t let truth reign.
I will just leave you with this: By the end. You will want to eat Ben & Jerry’s, and say “I told you so.” Your mouth will be agape, and you will wish that you could’ve held their hands and said, “Go this way young padawan.”
Where are you book 3???
What do you think about this series so far? Have you enjoyed it? Do you want to read it now? Leave me a comment so we can chat!