Wednesday, April 9, 2014

Review: The Winner's Curse

The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy, #1)Title: The Winner's Curse
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Series: The Winner's Trilogy
Volume: 1
Genre: High Fantasy, Romance
Release Date: March 4, 2014

A Quick Introduction: Lady Kestrel has two options as the daughter of a general in a empire that lives for war; she can either join the military or get married, despite the fact that either option would be likely to deprive her of the music she holds dear. Things get more complicated- and more dangerous- when she impulsively buys a defiant young slave at auction. As she grows closer to him she realises that the price she is paying is greater than anything she could have imagined.

Out of Ten: 9/10

Review at a Glance: A wonderful fantasy novel with a historical feel and political elements.

Review:  This was wonderful. I adore fantasy, and this one was so interesting. There isn't any magic in the world, which lends the tale a very historical feel. The world was wonderfully structured. Kestrel is the daughter of the general of the emperor's military, so she is constantly exposed to the idea of joining the military. The empire has spread, conquering other lands and enslaving those who lived there before. Both women and men are encouraged to join the army, or marry, and the culture is very much focused around the military. From a young age, all members of the society are trained in endurance, and everyone carries a weapon (however ceremonial they may be). Duels are used to settle disputes, though actually killing someone in a duel has consequences.

Kestrel has been trained to fight, though she has no talent for combat. Her skills lie in strategy, planning and manipulation. She is also a musician, something that is frowned upon in her culture- such things are present in people they conquer, not in members of the warrior empire. Nonetheless, she puts a great deal of effort into her music, honing her talent on the piano rather than with a weapon. Her music is what drives her to make the mother of all impulse buys, buying a slave at auction when the auctioneer says he can sing. Which, of course, he refuses to do. Arin is defiant- he was forced into slavery by Kestrel's empire when he was nine, losing his family in the process. Naturally, he despise his oppressors, including the girl who buys him. It is told in third person point of view, alternating between Kestrel and Arin.

Their relationship gets off to a very tense start- he hates her people- with reason, and she regrets making the purchase at all. It takes them a long time to begin to look at one another with anything besides enmity or extreme guardedness. It is something that would be called a slow-growing relationship. There is a lot going on besides their romance, and there is steps forward and back in their relationship as a result of those.

I really enjoyed the plot as well. I know that some people found it slow, especially at the beginning, but I really enjoyed the buildup, but I enjoyed the detail it offered. It has shades of political drama, or court drama, and it gave a lot of insight into the world, without making the world building overbearing. Once the action itself gets going, it certainly gets going. It does read more as a chess game, or move-and-counter-move. Both of the leads are not untalented strategists, especially Kestrel. It isn't non-stop fighting, the action is more subtle, and very engaging. I enjoyed the cerebral part of the story a great deal.

Overall I really enjoyed this one, and I definitely flew through it. It is a little different from other fantasies in that there wasn't any magic in the world, and it was certainly a lot more political than other young adult fantasies that I have read. Simply put, I found it glorious, and I'm really looking forward to the next one.

1 comment :

  1. Sounds like a good one! I will have to put it on the never ending TBR Pile!