Happy Monday readers! I hope you all had a great weekend. Mine was rather problematic from loss of water in my apartment for most of one day and other things being put on hold or off because of it yeah it was not as productive as I'd have liked. That said I did get a little bit of reading done. Last month I had the chance to go to my second Fierce Reads tour and see Marie Rutkoski, Anna Banks, Harriet Reuter Hapgood, and Cecelia Ahern. Now at the time I hadn't read any of their books though I had several waiting for me on my shelves, I know bad me. Still I was excited to go and meet them. Since then I have been dying to dive into the Winner's Trilogy by Rutkoski, and having then purchased the final book in the series I was ready to start and picked up book one, The Winner's Curse. Giveaway details will be at the bottom!
Book one follows the generals daughter, Kestrel who at seventeen is struggling to face her two choices in life, marry or join the military. She has a few years to make the decision but her father is bound and determined to convince her to join him in the military. She isn’t of a mind of the military, she has a sharp whit and good strategy skills but her first love is music, despite the stigma on it being something slaves are used for. Unexpectedly one day she ends up at a slave auction, despite her distaste for it, she purchases the first one up for auction, Arin. There is something about him that calls to her. The price paid may be too steep not in coin but in something of much higher value, something she could never imagine.
The world in which this is set in is amazingly thought out and it shows in the writing. A world where you have two options as a woman, marry or fight. I like the difference here where in many the women only have the option to marry, the only roll for a woman but in this it allows a different path. A fantasy world at war, plus there is a map! The different stories of the past, how the war was fought and how they came to rule over it were really interesting both to the story and to the strategist aspect. Plus the game they play throughout the story Bite & Sting just sounds really interesting and made me want to learn to play and how cool is that to create a game! Which I just found out you can play online here.
Character development was on point as well. The two main characters are Kestrel and Arin. Both are opposites in many ways; the most obvious being generals daughter and slave. Still they have many things in common, their love for music for one. They are hot and cold, they seem to connect in some areas but are completely at odds the next. The start is very much like this, curious about one another but with the history of their people it’s hard to look past it. Kestrel is conflicted between her choice, she isn’t really interested in marring anyone but she also doesn’t want to join the military. She wants freedom but not at the cost of military service and by that standard she doesn’t want to marry and sacrifice what little freedom she has to her husband. She doesn’t see all of Herran as bad, she has deep affection for her nurse maid and she appreciated their love for music and easier way of life before. Arin on the other hand has some serious anger and resentment issues but given what he has been through what he has seen it stands to reason. That said even when he is angry he has a softness as well, at least for a few. He is very conflicted about his feelings for the actions he is a part of.
The dynamic of seeing things from both of their perspectives on both sides of the spectrum in different areas pulled the story together. How they go from enemies to friends of sorts and something more but the emotional conflict as they go back and forth constantly is what really intrigues it. It’s a slow build and while the romantic aspect isn’t as strong for me as it may be for some, the beginnings are there without a doubt and it has me really interested to know what happens next.
The plot of the story is a bit slower in the start as we fall into the world and works because things amp up for sure and keep you on the edge of your seat until the end. Seriously they aren’t afraid or shying away from the brutality of war in this. Lots of death and pain happening. I am excited to start the next book in the series and figure out what happens with all the characters and how the decisions of the past book will factor into the story.