Series: The Winner's Trilogy #2
Published by Bloomsbury on March, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Medieval
Book Depository | Bookworld | Booktopia
The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoriaâ€™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? Forâ€”unknown to Arinâ€”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 countryâ€™s freedom, he canâ€™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.
After a lukewarm reaction to the first book in the series, I had high hopes that The Winnerâ€™s Crime would be something I could warm up to a little more. Comforted by the fact that most readers seem to prefer the second instalment, I wasted no time in picking it up to see where Kestrel and Arin were headed after that enjoyable ending.
Â â€œThere was dishonor, she decided, in accepting someone elseâ€™s idea of honor without question.â€
What can I say? Itâ€™s always tough to review a book that you didnâ€™t enjoy all that much. To put it simply â€“ I was just bored throughout most of The Winnerâ€™s Curse. I didnâ€™t care about the characters or their relationships and the plot was slow. Though the last 50 pages or so picked up and got quite interesting, it wasnâ€™t enough to salvage the book for me.
Kestrel was somewhat interesting in The Winnerâ€™s Crime, if only for her interest in strategy games, but this grew tiresome this time around. Any individuality Kestrel possessed left her and she became the typical girl whoâ€™s torn over a guy she canâ€™t have (despite them having the most rocky and weird connection ever).
Â â€œSometimes you think you want something, when what you need is to let it go.â€
Arin â€“oh, where do I begin with him? I just donâ€™t like him. Never have and never will. I canâ€™t for the life of me understand why Kestrel is attracted to him. He is so bland. And when heâ€™s not bland, heâ€™s stupid. Heâ€™s so quick to judge, too. I think one of the reasons behind my dislike of these books so far is Arin as a character, as well as his relationship with Kestrel. Blagh!
As for the ongoing â€˜sagaâ€™ with Kestrelâ€™s â€˜friendsâ€™ Ronan and Jess â€“ I really couldnâ€™t care less. Despite the fact that Kestrel is always shoving down our throats what good friends they all are/were, they didnâ€™t support or know the â€˜realâ€™ Kestrel, so how can I find the demise of their friendship a bad thing?
Â â€œIf you wonâ€™t be my friend, youâ€™ll regret being my enemy.â€
Thereâ€™s quite a good relationship (however small) built between Kestrel and her betrothed Prince Verex. I was holding out my hopes that there might have been a secondary love interest here (sigh), but at least there was some sort of friendship. As for his father, the Emperor, he played a good role of the villain, but his threats grew rather boring after a while.
Arinâ€™s venture in Dacra was an exciting part of the book, despite the narrator. It was great to experience some more worldbuilding from Marie Rutkoski. I enjoy seeing the races and people she creates, as well as how they all interact with one another. I just wish more of a focus would have been on this, instead of Arin bustling around the Capital (pretty much doing nothing) for the majority of the book.
Marie Rutkoski, however, is a fantastic writer in terms of lyrical prose and descriptions. Though sometimes things get a bit to â€˜floweryâ€™ for me, I find that she can set a scene rather well and convey a lot of feeling in the most mundane of things. I only wish I could warm up to her characters more.
Â â€œI donâ€™t mind being a moth. I would probably start eating silk if it meant that I could fly.â€
My irritation with the story in The Winnerâ€™s Curse was that it was way too slow. I canâ€™t even remember how many times I put this book down and didnâ€™t want to pick it up again. Though Kestrel was busying herself by prying secrets loose within the kingdom, the hints and clues we got made no sense and came too few and far between. I had absolutely no idea where talk of the water pumps and bets on her wedding dresses were going. Iâ€™m still scratching my head over the dress part, to be honest.
The ending was like watching a train wreck in slow motion, and despite my boredom with 80% of the book, the ending did have me reading like a madwoman. At this stage, I am unsure if I want to continue with The Winnerâ€™s Trilogy (I was adamant I wasnâ€™t going to before reading the ending) but after seeing how events unfolded in the last chapter or so, I might have to if only to satiate my curiosity.
One thing is for sure, if I do read the final instalment, Iâ€™ll have to go into it knowing that I will never enjoy Arin as a character, nor his relationship with Kestrel.