Sunday, March 15, 2015

Time to Talkback: Review on The Winnner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

The Authors had their time to talk now it's Time to Talkback. This gives me the chance to review the book or books I have been reading. Now I'm all for a honest review and at times I can be a bit harsh with some of the judgements I voice, as far as book go. But it has nothing to do with the author(s) for without them what would my imagination be (goodness help us all). It is just my own opinion, constructive criticism (I say) and I just want to state it as so many of us sometimes do. Good or Bad, I am always thankful for the books I read and the author(s) who wrote them. So, welcome to Talkback and here to a honest review.

Title: The Winner's Curse
Author: Marie Rutkoski
Series: The Winner's Trilogy #1
Author Info: Website | Twitter | Goodreads
Age Group: Young Adult
Genre Type: Romance, Historical Fantasy
Publication date: March 4th 2014
Publisher: Farrar Straus Giroux
Format: Hardcover
Pages:  355 pages
Source: Barnes and Noble, Bought

My rating: 4 of 5 stars

A wonderfully written composure of social structure blended with a devious plot of regime overthrow, The Winner’s Curse by Marie Rutkoski, is a beautiful creation of romance and historical fantasy. Themes are an essential part of all stories, however it is not often that they are done well, though most are on par. The Winner’s Curse took this to another level, making the theme, the story. It was woven into the plot and continually grew greater and stronger as the book advanced. Marie Rutkoski has created a vivid and contagious new world in this book. It’s a familiar world, one of conquests, hierarchies, and societal gatherings involving schemes and betrayal. It is a world very close to what ours has been like in the past millennium.

Set in a world where the Herranis have be conquered by the Valorians and subjected to slavery, the story follows a young 17 year old girl named Kestrel, the daughter of the prominent and respected General Trajan. Kestrel not hopeful about the future of her exist, which basically involves her choosing between becoming a soldier in the military (which her father continues to pressure her to do) or marriage, both of which Kestrel loath and disfavors. “But when you are faced with only two choices, the military or marriage, do you wonder if there is a third, or a fourth, or more, even than that?” In an unexpected moment Kestrel and her best friend Jess go to a slave auction, where without thinking of the consequences, Kestrel buys a slave. Independent and vigilant, Kestrel’s new slave, Arin intrigues her, and soon she finds herself going out of her way to be with him. But with such different backgrounds, is a future together even a possibility?

Kestrel and Arin, our protagonists, are a pleasure as we divulge into their stories, both separately and combined. Kestrel, our first protagonist, is intelligent, strategic, cunning, and quick-witted, nothing like the society ladies she associated with (though there were not many to compare her to). She is compassioned and at often times to trusting. Being the daughter of a military General of the Valorian Empire, the victors of the war with the Herrani people, Kestrel is trained in basic military self-defense. The fact that she is not perfect in this make her character seem more realistic and also adds to her characteristics of wanting to be more a musician. However, the fact that she seemed to overcome all the challenges given to her too easily put the book back into the unrealistic mood.

Arin, our second protagonist and the slave of Kestrel, is complex and secretive. Much like Kestrel, Arin is strategic and intelligent, but he is also observant and rebellious. Together Arin and Kestrel were a perfect match, being both keen and perceptive. Arin managed to match her when other men couldn’t, despite his inferior rank. Though their slowly developing romantic relationship, which had the potential to be extremely problematic (as one was the slave to the other and among other things), was instead handled carefully and thoughtfully, with both characters aware of the imbalance of power between them and the problems it could cause. Rutkoski’s detail to their relationship made to story slow at times but give us a better insight to the thinking of each character.

Though the characters added a great side bar, the focal point of the world however, was the history between the Valarians, Herranis, and the rest of the known world. The people and their contrasting outlooks on life and each other explained more of how the two main characters interacted with each other, coming from diverging factions.
The only shortcoming that made this story a bit undesirable was the world building aspect. Rutkoski’s detailing to the characters pushed the lack of detailing of the world aside. A trade that should have never been comprised considering that these characters are involved in this world and the focal point of the history is based on it.

But overall, Marie Rutkoski has presented an absurdly well thought out and exceptionally executed book. It is a story that discusses more than what one can see only on the surface (the romance), and dives into social cultural, expanding into historical diverges and governmental influences. It features intelligent characters, mind games, and a lot of strategizing. I highly recommend it to those looking for a romance historical fantasy.

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