Published on: March 3rd 2015
Published by: Farrar Straus Giroux
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #2
Genre: YA Fantasy
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This book is part of the The Winner’s Trilogy. You can find reviews for the rest of the books below:
The Winner’s Curse (The Winner’s Trilogy #1)
The Winner’s Crime (The Winner’s Trilogy #2)
The Winner’s Kiss (The Winner’s Trilogy #3)
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.
I was extremely lucky in that I read the first book late and could go straight into this one. However I really don’t know how I’m going to cope having to wait for the last one!
I found the world building in this series just incredible and we are lucky enough to be shown even more of it in this book including the Capital City (where the majority of this book is based) and the neighbouring regions to the East. One thing Marie Rutkoski is good at is getting us to use our imaginations, and the imagery I got from her descriptions were gorgeous. This one has got to be one of my favourite fantasy worlds and I would loved to have been in Marie’s head whilst she created it. Every little detail is included, every complex little bit of history which just makes it all the more realistic and therefore enjoyable.
“You can’t see both sides of one coin at once, can you, child? The god of money always keeps a secret.”
The new characters we got in this book were perfect and they weaved their way into the story so easily that I just connected with them instantly. The Emperor was one of those characters you can’t help but both love and hate (reminded me of my feelings for Prof Umbridge!) because he is totally evil, but he is a very smart and awesome kind of evil that you can’t help but like him. I also really liked the addition of Prince Verex and the development of his friendship/relationship with Kestrel through this book. I have high hopes for him in the next book and really excited to see where his character is taken.
Princess Risha is a new character who starts as a minor character, she seems to be there in the background quite a bit but never really doing anything. But then we start to find out more about her background and it is really fascinating and it very quickly becomes apparent is so much more to her then we initially see and I feel like she has got a lot more to give in the final part of the trilogy, and I am really excited to see her character develop even more. Another notable mention is Kestrel’s Dressmaker, who just has one of those personalities that leaps off the page. I really enjoyed reading the scenes with her in it, plus I’ve always wished I was better at sewing!
“If you won’t be my friend, you’ll regret being my enemy.”
I complimented Kestrel in my review of The Winners Curse on her ability to follow her heart but still do the smart thing. Her intelligence is really shown in this book and I found it fascinating being in her head and seeing the way she figures everything out and the web that she is oh so carefully weaving. She walks a very thin line through this book which leads to a whole lot of tension and us always fearful that she is going to be found out. Her love and need to protect Arin is so clear in this one and there were so very worrying moments when she let her heart more control then her head in her decision making, therefore putting herself at risk and us through some totally tense scenes!
“Sometimes you think you want something,” Arin told him, “when in reality you need to let it go.”
So much tension and frustration in this book when it comes to Kestrel and Arin. I found myself yelling at my book A LOT! Through the entire book we get a constant back and forth between Kestrel’s plan and Arin’s plan and at times they are so close and it really is torture. I’m totally screaming at my book “JUST TALK TO EACH OTHER!” and going totally crazy, but in a really really good way! There was so much sacrifice from both characters in this book as they tried to help each other and so it killed me when their plan backfired and I’m all like “They sacrificed that for NOTHING!” (my heart totally breaking at this point!). Also SO MANY opportunities when we thing they are finally going to tell each other their real feelings or almost giving into each other and then they pull away. SO MUCH FRUSTRATION! But a totally awesome type of frustration which just makes the whole thing AMAZING!
“She turned to look at him, and he was already looking at her. “I’m going to miss you when I wake up,” she whispered, because she realised that she must have fallen asleep under the sun. Arin was too real for her imagination. He was a dream.
“Don’t wake up,” he said.”
That ending was just plain cruel! How can someone be so mean as to end a book like that and then make us wait an ENTIRE year for the next book. It was HEARTBREAKING! Marie Rutkoski has done an incredible job of playing the board through the first two books in this amazing series, and she has set the pieces up perfectly for the finale. The whole book is such a beautiful balance between character and plot and I have so many thoughts running through my head of how certain characters and the story is going to develop in book 3, I can’t wait to see if I’m right! (No doubt, I’m probably wrong! I’m so not clever enough to figure out this series!).
“She’d felt it before, she felt it now: the pull to fall in with him, to fall into him, to lose her sense of self.“
I could talk about this book all day and my review actually started off a whole lot longer then this final version, but it is one of those books (like with The Winner’s Curse) that you just have to read and experience for yourself. I wont be surprised if you spend the latter half of the book on the edge of my seat, and I warn you now you are going to be desperate for book three as soon as you finish!
Re-Readability: Most Definitely.
I would recommend this book to fans of: YA Fantasy series, forbidden romances, erm… Everyone!
Have you read The Winners Crime? What did you think?
What are you most excited for in the final book?