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.
Ah, The Winner’s Curse probably one of the most over hyped books in 2014 and I’ll admit it was good.
In the world of cliche high fantasy, it stood out. The world building was fantastic and the ship was palatable and longing worthy.
The world building was still fantastic in the sequel, but did not like the ship as much. It wasn’t horrible, per say But it played on the misunderstanding cliche a bit for me to like. Plus, Arin needs to get off his high horse.
I think a lot of issues I have with the romance is that both leads are such strong characters. And this is a good thing to a degree. Strong characters mean stronger story lines. The thing is, strong characters sometimes don’t work that well together especially when they’re both very stubborn strong characters. I feel like one of the characters has to give up part of themselves so that they can be together and I feel that’s what is ultimately going to happen to the ship here.
But it doesn’t mean I outright hate Arin and Kestrel, I just don’t ship them the way others do.
The world building in this installment, was enough for me not to really give a flip about how I no longer get the ship. More dimensions were given to the characters and the world they live in. I like how side characters in this installment embellished the world building.
There was also many parts of the world shown in this installment, unlike the first installment.
One of my favorite aspects of this installment was how Kestrel met her match with the emperor. The character was complex on so many levels. I’m not sure you’d call him so much of a villain or really just a politician. Sure, his actions weren’t the kindest, but I don’t think he’s exactly a typical Big Bad.
Then there was the relationship that Kestrel had with her father and her future husband (the emperor’s son). Both of them were complex and well done too.
Parent fluff in YA books is always good when you can get it (it rarely happens), so to see a father daughter relationship here was refreshing. The same goes for the relationship between Kestrel and the emperor’s son. This is NOT a love triangle, guys. It’s an alliance turned friendship, which I find refreshing.
While developing side relationships, the political aspects of the novel (aka the plot) also developed as well. You could see that the politics of the novel were effected by the character’s relationships and vice versa.
The thing about this series is that it somehow stands out amongst the various high fantasies out there in YA. It’s true it shares several similar attributes, but there’s something about it the cream of the crop. I think it’s in part because the setting in this story isn’t a quasi dystopia. The Ancient Rome inspired world that Kestrel lives in is at its height of power. There’s no lost queen and magic too, which helps immensely as well.
If you are into high fantasy in YA, you should give this trilogy a try. It’s not exactly the most unique trilogy out there, but there are enough parts in there to grab your attention.
Overall Rating: A-. While I didn’t feel the ship, the other relationships and world building were quite excellent. And. That. Cliffie.