The Winner's Curse (Winner's Trilogy, #1) - Marie Rutkoski

First, to write this I had to pull myself together after a stint of drunken-like sobbing. Some of that was spurred by the story that drew me in like a kite on a string, and some of it because I listened to the entire soundtrack to Aida right after finishing.


This book is similar to Aida, some parts very similar while not being parallel.


Too many choices tear us apart

I don't want to love like that...


Ever heard a saying that every story is a love story? There's truth in that I think. It won't be a surprise to you that The Winner's Curse is most definitely a love story, a multifaceted and brilliant one, especially for anyone who enjoys a fantasy read.


Here, romantic love is just scratching the surface. Underneath that thin tale of man and woman's singular feelings for each other is a depth that is breathtaking. This is a story about the love of war, the love of your people, the love of land, the love of greed and power. Sometimes it's about loving someone who doesn't love you back. The love of friendship. The love of life. And to make matters amazing, this is a love story so deliciously written that you are confused about who or where to put your love. You don't really know where your heart lies because it's absolutely torn between, well, everything.


Because when you win someone else loses, and you don't want anyone from these pages to lose.


We all live in extravagant times  

  Playing games we can't all win...


Kestrel is the general's daughter, living in a stolen land, living on stolen labor...and she knows, she feels it. When a slave comes to auction, she plays right into a game that carries her away. But she's not helpless, she has some born traits and some learned skills -she is cunning, intelligent, and has heart.


Arin is a slave with ambition, and a fading memory of freedom. He's holding his playing hand close, and has nothing to lose.


Both have loyalties. Neither are playing for themselves, there are people who've placed bets on the outcome of their actions. Kestrel and Arin choose how to play for what they can live with and what they can't live without.


We all lead such elaborate lives

  Wild ambitions in our sights

How an affair of the heart survives

  Days apart and hurried nights...


This is the kind of story that makes you guess and beg and pray that the story will turn an unexpected corner, that it won't cartwheel down the mountain in the worn and proven path of sacrifice and honor and heartbreak. You're so caught up in the story that's careening out of your control that you try to put on the brakes and will things to be different, easier, gentler. You might spend minutes turning to hours wondering how it will be okay.


And maybe it won't be okay.


I have to let Marie Rutkoski tell her tale and just pray that she takes care with my now wounded heart.


However it ends, I urge you to read this too. I'll bring the wine, you bring the Kleenex, and we'll have a good time rehashing the many amazing scenes in this book.


Big Thanks to NetGalley for providing me this experience.


Lyrics quoted are from Elaborate Lives from the musical Aida, which you should check out if you're into that kind of thing.