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...moreI 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. While this as a quieter story, there are bursts of action-packed moments, strategic manipulations, and a couple surprising revelations. Worldbuilding, characters, story – it was all fantastic.
Lowlights: It has a slightly slow beginning and a couple moments felt slightly rushed, but I have no big issues with this story. The ending was pretty brutal, emotionally. It leaves you wanting the sequel, desperately! (less)
Trekking across the blazing sand and through deadly snow, Elisa is in for one epic journey to save the man she loves, to protect her kingdom from utte...moreTrekking across the blazing sand and through deadly snow, Elisa is in for one epic journey to save the man she loves, to protect her kingdom from utter destruction, and to fulfill her destiny as a bearer of a Godstone in the final installment of the Fire and Thorns trilogy*. I've been anticipating this novel ever since I finished THE CROWN OF EMBERS, and Rae Carson did not disappoint. Picking up directly where the sequel left off, Carson does not waste a moment in getting Elisa started on her journey. But, Elisa's not going at it alone, and is instead aided by a few old friends (Belen, Mara, Storm) and a few new allies (Mula, Horse**, possibly also Storm). Their journey is dangerous, deadly, and will take them into the heart of a place they fear the most.
Rife with political intrigue, daring altercations, thrilling escapes, and a vibrant cast of characters, THE BITTER KINGDOM is a whirlwind of a story that excites from start to finish. Just when you think you have this story all figured out, the stakes raise as more revelations come to light. Carson's writes each setting vividly, and gives equal care to fleshing out her characters and her overall story. Looking back at where this trilogy started, I'm very impressed regarding Elisa's character growth, and I'm sold on reading all of Carson's future works. If you are not reading this trilogy and you happen to be a fantasy fan, give this trilogy a chance because you're in a for a treat.
Highlights: Action, adventure, risks, and sacrifice, THE BITTER KINGDOM is thrilling. I was constantly on the edge of my seat, rooting for Elisa and worrying for the main cast of characters whenever things started to go badly for them. The inclusion of Hector's*** POV could have been a risky move, but it paid off in the end since it added another layer to his character and to the overall story. Characters, new and old, are carefully developed by Carson. More about Elisa's world and the Inviernos is revealed. In all, this book is wonderful.
Lowlights: The trilogy is over, and I'm sad about that. Rae Carson, why can't you write more Fire and Thorns novels?! *hugs trilogy*
Rating:The Treasure Vault. This book (or really, this series) is a favorite of mine, and is also very worthy of keeping company with the crown jewels. I'd highly recommend this novel to other readers. If I could give this book a palace of it's own, I would. But, I'll just keep it tucked safely away in my treasure vault instead.
* Um, no pressure. Poor Elisa. She's got a lot to do! ** Horse is a horse. A very sweet horse. I still think Elisa should have put some effort into a better name, though. *** Oh, Hector. *swoons*
Highlights: The world of the Asherah, the spaceship traveling to a new planet called Zehava, was nicely developed and highly enriched with culture and...moreHighlights: The world of the Asherah, the spaceship traveling to a new planet called Zehava, was nicely developed and highly enriched with culture and religion. Terra is a fascinating protagonist who made me love and hate her at the same time, which is always fascinating to read. Relationships between characters kept me hooked, both positive and negative ones. North makes STARGLASS unique, keeping her readers on their toes by having the story wander off in new directions. In the end, the world and characters of STARGLASS are fascinating, and I will definitely be looking forward to finding out what happens next.
Lowlights: The slow pacing of this story is a bit difficult to adjust to – for the most part, not a lot happens. The distorted religious aspect, while interesting, confused me for most of the book. I think the biggest problem was that the interesting part of the story came too late, and it took too long for Terra to "fulfill" her end of the bargain. Also, what's up with (view spoiler)[the weird connection Terra seems to have with the new planet - how could she know what the inhabitants look like before she even knows that it's inhabited? What makes her so special? (hide spoiler)]
Rating: The Great Hall (aka, 3.8 out of 5). STARGLASS was very likable, enough that I want a copy somewhere in the palace (even if it doesn't earn a spot in the royal library, which it was very close to doing). I would probably purchase this book if it was on sale for Kindle, but I wouldn't purchase a hardcover for my physical bookshelves. YA sci-fans who are looking for a story that travels in unexpected directions should definitely check out STARGLASS, because you will definitely be in for a surprise. ["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>["br"]>(less)