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The Winner's Curse (The Winner's Trilogy #1)

4.02  ·  Rating details ·  74,440 Ratings  ·  10,666 Reviews
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 de
ebook, 355 pages
Published March 4th 2014 by Farrar Straus Giroux
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Kim I can't speak to the hype, but I can speak to the quality of the book. This is a very, very good YA fantasy. Superb world-building without…moreI can't speak to the hype, but I can speak to the quality of the book. This is a very, very good YA fantasy. Superb world-building without info-dumping. Well-rounded characters and a romance that allows for the hero and heroine to actually get to know one another. Clean, spare writing that at times, especially toward the end, rises to lyrical beauty. Intelligent---I can't emphasize that enough---intelligent plotting and strategy (an essential but often sadly underdeveloped element of any book involving politics). Interesting, thought-provoking nuances of slavery, empires, war, and freedom. And an end that allows for the complexity of the book's cultures and characters and, while setting up for a sequel, also works well as the finish to a standalone volume. Of course, the above may not be your sort of book, but I hope this answer has at least offered a little insight into what kind of book it is.(less)

Community Reviews

(showing 1-30)
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Kat O'Keeffe
Jan 10, 2015 rated it really liked it
So glad I picked this one up! I loved the story--especially in the second half, when we started to delve more into politics and war strategies and larger scale conflicts. I also really enjoyed what we saw of the world building, though I do wish we got a little more depth there. The societies of this world are so interesting, I'm really looking forward to exploring that more in the future books. Characters were great, I loved the relationship and shifting dynamic between Kestrel and Arin, and I a ...more
Steph Sinclair
Mar 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: Everyone better read this one... OR ELSE (especially High Fantasy fans).
A year ago when I first heard about The Winner's Curse, it was during the Fierce Reads tour where I had an opportunity to interview a few MacKids authors, including Marie Rutkoski. It was a lot of fun and remains one of my favorite interviews I'd ever conducted. I really enjoyed The Shadow Society, Marie's YA debut novel, and loved her writing style, so I knew I'd be more than eager to check out any of her future works. I asked what she and the other authors where working on and she mentioned Th ...more
Emily May
Jan 10, 2014 rated it it was ok
There comes, on occasion, those moments in the lives of readers when they find themselves putting a book down, pausing, looking around at all the glowing reviews and five star ratings, and asking themselves the question... did I read the same book?

When it comes to language, dialogue and general storytelling of small events in The Winner's Curse, it's obvious that you are in the hands of a competent writer with a talent for description and a nicely-spun phrase. But this book is so... tame. Wa
Feb 04, 2014 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: No one
Recommended to Navessa by: Everyone

Very seldom do I give only a single star to books that I've read from cover to cover. Usually I reserve such a low rating for ones with such abominable writing, such shallow, one-dimensional characters, such poorly constructed plots, that I can't bear to finish them.

The writing in this is good. Sure, it's not the kind of prose that sweeps the reader up and transports them fully within the pages, but it gets the job done. The characters are not one-dimensional. In fact, throug
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: books-owned-read
ooooooh this was gooooood
Khanh, first of her name, mother of bunnies
Actual rating: 3.5
“A kestrel is a hunting hawk.”
“Yes. The perfect name for a warrior girl.”
“Well.” His smile was slight, but it was there. “I suppose neither of us is the person we were believed we would become.”
The second half of this book was exceedingly better than the first. The first was plagued with a rather weak, insipid heroine, an asshat of a "slave" who, seriously, did not act like a fucking slave at all, more like the king of a castle. I disagree with slavery (no anyone
This book is fucking awesome. I'm literally speechless and blown away by how enjoyable and gripping this book was. I am so fucking shook, I can't even begin to describe how fucking amazing this book was.

The Winner's Curse was a book I thought was about ballrooms, kings and queens and it was a book was not expecting to love at all. I never read the blurb of a book. I literally just dive into it blind and take and see how it goes for me. So I was so surprised when I found out this was about polit
Wendy Darling
4.5 stars Love love love love love. If you're a fan of Leigh Bardugo's Grisha trilogy or Diana Peterfreund's For Darkness Shows the Stars series, you need to get your hands on this one ASAP. It has the feel of a historical fantasy without slotting neatly into either category, as well as a pensive mood and very romantic story.

Full review on the blog, with a few quotes to give you a feel for the writing:

And we're giving away an amazing prize package (book!
Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁ Rabid Reads-no-more
Reviewed by: Rabid Reads

Fantasy is one of my favorite genres, and it has been since I was old enough to make my own bedtime story requests. My appreciation has grown and evolved as I have likewise grown and evolved, and as an adult, I’ll pretty much take it however I can it, be it Dark, Epic, High, YA Fantasy, or otherwise. These days, however, I mostly stick to YA Fantasy b/c the books don’t typically come in a series of 12(ish), 1000(ish) page books, and are therefore less of a commitment.

SO a
Nadhira Satria
Hello, I'm in the worst slump I've had this year and the only book I can read is this god given masterpiece. Yes, it was my ninth time reading this. Yes, I'm obsessed. Yes, I need help

How do you even make a review of your favorite book in the world? You. just. fucking. don't
My soul is crushed and broken on the floor. bye I need to smoke a pack of cig and cry like a baby. adios.
Aug 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing
This may not be a SOLID 5 stars, more like a 4.8, but it's SO CLOSE.
I had heard great things about this book, but not from a ton of people so it wasn't overhyped for me. I didn't really know anything going in and I think that was for the best.
Kestral and Arin are phenomenal characters and the story is really fantastic. It really shines in the second half when things are set in motion and we've got POLITICS and the like.
GAH just SO GOOD. I can't
Clau R.
Dec 12, 2014 rated it really liked it
Shelves: cover-love, 2015
Al inicio pensé que no me iba a gustar, pero ahora sé que quiero leer el siguiente libro. YA.

Review to come.
Feb 18, 2015 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: re-reads
Rereading this for the third time felt so good! This is seriously such an underrated series. I adore the characters, the world, writing and the series just keeps getting better from here on out.


Our fan-girling got the best of us and now we’ll be reunited with Kestrel and Arin AND WE’RE HYPE! 😭😭

Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
That ending! What are Kestrel and Arin going to do now? I guess I will find out in the other books.

Kestrel is a Valorian and a very high ranked one as her father is a general. Years ago the Valorian army defeated the Herrani people and turned them into slaves. Why? Because they wanted to and that's what jerks do. These poor people had to live as slaves in their own town and even in some of their own homes. RUDE!

Anyway, Kestrel was out gambling one day (she's pretty good at it) and her and her
Ben Alderson
Oct 24, 2014 rated it did not like it
really did not get into this at all.
:( I love the cover and formatting but the characters I found very distant
Jun 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing
Recommends it for: EVERYONE!!!!!
Recommended to Jasmine by: Lisa
“Kestrel thought about how this might be what hurt the most.
That they had used something she loved against her."

Maybe I shouldn't judge someone or something by my first impression on them, but I can't help myself. So it's official that Marie Rutkoski becomes one of my top favorite authors and The Winner's Curse my top favorite books of all time. I can't stop admiring how wonderful her writing style and how incredibly well-written this story is. She tells the story in a pretty easy yet powerf
The Winner's Curse is when you come out on top of the bid, but only by paying a steep price.

Where do I even begin with this review? This. I did not expect this.

Honestly, this was never ending, to say it's not the biggest book in the world SO much happens! There were parts where I was like how is this even happening?! The building of the storyline was so well done, and forever had me guessing what was coming next. Not only that, but we saw different difficulties coming in to play and how not ever
Feb 11, 2017 rated it it was amazing
wooAAHHHHHH. that ENDING. i'm still SOBBING.

I bought the entire series last summer knowing NOTHING lol I don't really know what got into me that day but I'm so glad that it was a blind purchase because I loved this book so much!!!! I was hooked from the first chapter and nothing ever felt slow to me :') The political aspect of this book and the plot's emphasis on using strategies to get what you want was quiet refreshing to read about. I also didn't mind the fact that this book didn't focus on w
Jennifer Armentrout
Feb 16, 2014 rated it it was amazing
AHHHHHHHH. All the feels. Seriously
April (Aprilius Maximus)
Felt a slight disconnect with the main character, but otherwise I loved it!
Mar 11, 2014 rated it did not like it
Shelves: no-just-no
Why do I feel like I just read something out of the Spartacus fanfiction reject pile?

To be perfectly honest, I thought I'd seen the very bottom of bad young adult historical fantasy. Not gonna name names, but even among such esteemed company, The Winner's Curse is a new low. However you want to measure it, plot, setting, character development, Marie Rutkoski's latest book fundamentally fails at being anything other than bland, shallow, cliched, and predictable. Maybe I'm being spoiled by fond me
So I finished this book a few days ago now, and can I just say, I don't remember the last time a book hit me so hard. This was a book I wanted to give my full attention to and couldn't wait to review.

I'll try to grow this review into my trademark ranty sort soon, but for now, this will have to do.

So here we have it. Reasons to Read The Winner's Curse Because Emotional Death is Fun:

• The author's name is Marie. Clearly a name of legend *cough cough* so you kno
Whitney Atkinson
Feb 08, 2015 rated it it was ok
Shelves: read-in-2015
2.5 stars

I cannot put my finger on what didn't work in this book. The writing was enjoyable, but something about the plot or characters or I don't even know what just lost me. I wasn't necessarily bored, I just didn't care. It may have been because I listened to this on audio, but I could not connect to the story. The characters were meh, the plot was meh, and most of the book was just war plotting, which was so confusing because we got barely any backstory about the different kingdoms or whatev
Jan 06, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Precioso! Una narrativa que juega con los sentimientos de los personajes (y de los lectores) hasta el punto en que un suspiro, una mirada o un simple encuentro estremecen hasta el alma y ruegas por encontrarlos en la siguiente página. Una historia muy dura, que me ha hecho sufrir como pocos libros lo han logrado, no tan sólo por lo imposible de la relación de los personajes principales, sino por la triste realidad de un pueblo sometido.

La trama nos sitúa en la imaginaria península de Herrán, que
Jul 10, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
“Isn’t that what stories do, make real things fake, and fake things real?”

Regret not picking this book up ages ago, it was just so damn intriguing y'all I'm not really into politics much but Kestrel is literally a queen gosh she has definitely become one of my favourites in just one book. Can't wait to see where this story will lead and the extent to which it will wreck my heart 🙂
A certain someone who loves
Kat Kennedy
Mar 13, 2013 rated it it was amazing
I can't wait to review and share the absolute amazeballs that is this book!

Steph and I still sit on FaceTime and gush about a couple of the scenes over and over again.

Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: ya-fantasy
Wow this book exceeded my expectations! I am blown away. I loved Kestrel and Arin. I loved the strong political aspect of the book as well as the connection with music between the characters. Best book I've read so far this year
Joshua Gabriel (조수아)
She reminded herself bitterly that this was what curiosity had bought her: fifty keystones for a singer who refused to sing, a friend who wasn't her friend, some one who was hers and yet would never be hers.

The Winner's Curse is now one of my favorite books. I've been meaning to read it ever since Marie Rutkoski accepted my impulsive friend request. Har-har. And now that I've devoured her book, I'm so happy she indulged my audacity. I'm normally a polygamist reader, but I just cannot let any oth
Aug 05, 2017 rated it really liked it
This book was an amazing read!!!!!! Ahem, if I may add, quite different from the last two books.......

This book had a strong, mature female character. And ya see, people who actually know what they're doing besides living off ramen noodles when they grow up are MY MODELS.
Cause honestly, screw grades. Screw school. Screw old teachers who smell like a dusty closet.

But anyways, Kestrel, (the MC and my teacher when I grow up ;) is a pristine,
Sep 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: ya-fantasy
Let the emotional obliteration begin!

Buddy re reading with My kindred spirit 😻
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Marie Rutkoski is the author of the YA novel The Shadow Society and the children's fantasy series The Kronos Chronicles, including The Cabinet of Wonders, The Celestial Globe and The Jewel of the Kalderash. Her next project is a YA trilogy that begins with The Winner's Curse, which is scheduled to be published in March 2014.

Marie grew up in Bolingbrook, Illinois (a suburb of Chicago), as the olde
More about Marie Rutkoski

Other books in the series

The Winner's Trilogy (3 books)
  • The Winner's Crime (The Winner's Trilogy, #2)
  • The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy, #3)

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“Isn't that what stories do, make real things fake, and fake things real?” 791 likes
“Happiness depends on being free, and freedom depends on being courageous.” 409 likes
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