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The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy) Hardcover – March 4, 2014

4.4 out of 5 stars 441 customer reviews
Book 1 of 3 in the Winner's Trilogy Series

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Editorial Reviews

From Booklist

As 17-year-old Kestrel comes to know Arin, the Herrani slave she purchased on a whim, she puts both herself and him at risk. Arin, 19, also finds himself falling for this daughter of the Valorian general who conquered his homeland. A Herrani uprising briefly reverses their roles of owner and slave until the Valorian empire prevails, and a last-minute compromise by Kestrel may save Arin’s life—but it will make it impossible for them to be together. A refreshing change from supernatural and problem novels, this fantasy is pure romance (not sex) elevated above genre stereotypes by a talented author who understands pacing and satisfaction. Full-bodied characters explore issues of loyalty, class, and values (for example, arts versus military strengths), without sacrificing any of the relationship-related tension that is a hallmark of this kind of story. A tasty twist of an ending virtually locks readers in for subsequent entries in the series. Fans may want to revisit this one while they wait for future books; maybe get more than one copy? Grades 8-11. --Cindy Welch


“*[A] spellbinding first book in a trilogy about a pair of star-crossed lovers in a society marred by class warfare....Like any epic page-turner worth its salt, Rutkoski's richly imagined world is full of dynamic repartee, gruesome battle scenes, and shifting alliances. A high-stakes cliffhanger will leave readers eagerly awaiting the next book.” ―Publishers Weekly, STARRED REVIEW

“*Rich characterization, exquisite worldbuilding and rock-solid storytelling make this a fantasy of unusual intelligence and depth...Precise details and elegant prose make this world fresh and vivid. The intricate and suspenseful plot, filled with politics, intrigue and even graphic violence, features neither heroes nor villains; every character displays a complex mixture of talents, flaws and motives...Breathtaking, tragic and true.” ―Kirkus Reviews, STARRED REVIEW

“*A forbidden romance. The romance is heartstoppingly lovely and admittedly steamy . . . but the raising of stakes and the reluctance of the couple to give up their respective cause, even as they confess their love for each other, lends their relationship a complexity not often seen in the genre . . . A last-minute compromise between the lovers secures a sequel, and fans of Kristin Cashore and Robin Lefevers will be pleased to have a new romance to follow.” ―BCCB, STARRED REVIEW

“Every line in The Winner's Curse is beautifully written. The story is masterfully plotted. The characters' dilemmas fascinated me and tore at my heart. This book gave me a rare and special reading experience: I never knew what was going to happen next. I loved it. I want more.” ―Kristin Cashore, New York Times bestselling author of the Graceling Realm books

The Winner's Curse is breathtaking, a lyrical triumph in YA fantasy. Marie Rutkoski writes with tremendous power and has created an epic of fearless beauty. This book should not be missed.” ―Ann Aguirre, New York Times & USA Today bestselling author of the Razorland trilogy

The Winner's Curse is magnificent. Gorgeous writing graces every page, and the story of Kestrel and Arin unfolds with all the complexity and beauty of a sonata. I was completely transfixed by them and their world.” ―Sarah Beth Durst, author of Conjured


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Product Details

  • Age Range: 12 - 18 years
  • Grade Level: 7 and up
  • Lexile Measure: 680L (What's this?)
  • Series: The Winner's Trilogy (Book 1)
  • Hardcover: 368 pages
  • Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (March 4, 2014)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0374384673
  • ISBN-13: 978-0374384678
  • Product Dimensions: 5.8 x 1.2 x 8.5 inches
  • Shipping Weight: 14.9 ounces (View shipping rates and policies)
  • Average Customer Review: 4.4 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (441 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Best Sellers Rank: #122,254 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Customer Reviews

Top Customer Reviews

Format: Hardcover
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog***

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski
Book One of the Winner's Trilogy
Publisher: Farrar, Straus, and Giroux (BYR)
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Rating: 5 stars
Source: Copy borrowed from a friend (thank you, Jess!)

Summary (from Goodreads):

Winning what you want may cost you everything you love

As a general's daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin's eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him--with unexpected consequences. It's not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. Set in a richly imagined new world, The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski is a story of deadly games where everything is at stake, and the gamble is whether you will keep your head or lose your heart.

What I Liked:

Let me be clear: I most likely will NOT be doing this book justice, with this review. I loved this book so much, and I already know that I cannot express just how much I love this book, or everything that I love about this book, in one review. But I'll try.

This is more of a fantasy novel than anything. I saw on Goodreads that there are labels such as "science fiction", "dystopia", and "historical fiction". The first two are really off, but this book does have historical elements - like, medieval elements.
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Format: Hardcover
I knew going into The Winner's Curse that this would be a novel worth reading, if only because of how much I loved the creativity featured in Rutkoski's The Shadow Society. But even knowing that, I was still amazed by how outstanding this novel turned out to be. The story revolves around two main characters: Kestral, a Valerian and the daughter of a great military General, and Arin, a Herrani slave whom Kestral buys on impulse at an auction. Kestral is expected to join the military, while Arin must do whatever it takes to survive as one of the Herrani slaves. Despite their different stations in life, Kestral and Arin slowly form a forbidden friendship that could change the fate of their world's future.

Rutkoski excels at painting a vivid picture within her readers' minds – the characters, the world, the culture, everything proved to be easy enough to envision and imagine. But, it was the characters who stole the show. From Kestral's observant and strategic nature to Arin's subtle intelligence and sharp personality, it was easy to root for both of them. Even the side characters were wonderfully developed, and continually intriguing. I went into this expecting a good story, but Rutkoski delivered a quiet, stunning tale that pleasantly surprised me. The Winner's Curse is a surprising, captivating tale of family, love, and honor. This book? It should be on your to-read list. Or, better yet, your bookshelf.

Highlights: The romance is slow, subtle, and almost barely beginning. This story focuses on the intelligence of main characters, rather than their ability to be physical threats. I loved how this story was written in a 3rd person POV, because it allowed Rutkoski to go into detail and really show off the fantasy world she crafted.
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Format: Hardcover Verified Purchase
Ooh, THE WINNER'S CURSE, were do I begin to name the many reasons why I love you, and NEED more of you??? I am still tongue tide when I think about THE WINNER'S CURSE! It is beyond any logical words! It was so refreshing and amazing to read a book like THE WINNER'S CURSE. It was unlike anything I've ever read, and I'm SO glad I gave it a shot when I did, because I was debating, but eventually my curiosity won me over! I tend to steer clear of books that get a lot of hype (Like The 5th Wave ;) I get a little skeptical. But when I received an ARC, and sat down to read the first chapter and see what I thought, and let me tell you, I could not put it down to save my life!! I was captivated by each word, and before I knew it, I was almost finished, and already craving the next book!

There was honestly not one thing I did not like about THE WINNER'S CURSE! It was amazing in so many ways! The writing was elegant and engaging! Marie Rutkoski has crafted the most beautifully captivating, forbidden romance, that had me reading until the wee hours of the morning! I didn't want to put this book down for fear of what was coming next!

I loved the main characters, Kestrel and Arin were so addicting, and perfect in so many ways! They were both so full of life, yet flawed with restraints, by being forced to be tide down to their positions in their very different worlds, and it was so heart breaking. They were able to hold onto their strength, even though they both had to endure the pain and heartache of not having control over their lives! They knew what they wanted in life, but also knew that it could never be!

The romance was unlike ANYTHING I have ever read! I appreciated the romance in this book.
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