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The Winner's Curse

(The Winner's Trilogy #1)

3.95  ·  Rating details ·  105,692 ratings  ·  12,679 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 defy
Hardcover, 355 pages
Published March 4th 2014 by Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
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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 info-dumpin…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)
Allison I'm pretty sure its called a deckle edge, or untrimmed edge. Its just a styling choice for some books based on how books used to be cut.
Hope this help…more
I'm pretty sure its called a deckle edge, or untrimmed edge. Its just a styling choice for some books based on how books used to be cut.
Hope this helps!(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.95  · 
Rating details
 ·  105,692 ratings  ·  12,679 reviews

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Feb 04, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
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
Steph Sinclair
Mar 07, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Jul 10, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 anyon
I cannot get over how good and underrated this series is.

Reading it puts me under a complete spell. I’m transported to a world that’s richly built and full of political intrigue that only gets better and better with each book.

Every reread seems to make this story even better and more appealing to me.

Kestrel is trapped in a world she can’t seem to escape from, her destiny chosen for her. She wants something else, believes there’s something more out there for her. Her mind is beautiful. But her
I still love Arin and Kestrel l, but I found myself becoming bored with this at the beginning, but then it definitely got better.

Not sure if I should bring my rating down to 4 stars or keep it at a 5 because I definitely didn’t experience what I did the first time I read this.

my review:
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 Win
Nov 29, 2019 rated it it was amazing
wow. okay. i think i found my newest series to binge read because i honestly cant get enough of this.

there is sooo much to love. i am all for the whole forbidden/star-crossed lovers trope and the whole falling in love with a slave is just the right amount of taboo that i enjoy reading about. its the perfect combination of feeling forbidden but also hopeful when those boundaries are overcome.

i also enjoyed how there is a really great plot that resolves around interesting political motives. politi
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!
Nadhira Satria
Jul 10, 2017 rated it it was amazing
I'm in a slump so did I just read this god given masterpiece for the thirteenth time? Yes, you heard me. It was my twelfth 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.
chan ☆
Nov 02, 2020 added it  ·  review of another edition
Recommended to chan ☆ by: nidhi :)
Shelves: 2020, ya-fantasy
definitely thought it was fun, i liked the beat
Nenia ✨ I yeet my books back and forth ✨ Campbell

Instagram || Twitter || Facebook || Amazon || Pinterest

Confession: when this book first came out with the original cover, I thought it was a book about ballet.

Spoiler alert: this book is not about ballet.

When a new young adult title gets released, two things inevitably happen:

1) a whole swarm of bloggers read the book, talk about how they can't even, you guys!, and rate it five stars.

2) I read the book in question, wonder if I'm in a parallel universe where good books turn into bad books, an
Jessica ❁ ➳ Silverbow ➳ ❁
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
Jennifer Armentrout
AHHHHHHHH. All the feels. Seriously
Aug 21, 2015 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Ben Alderson
Oct 24, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
really did not get into this at all.
:( I love the cover and formatting but the characters I found very distant
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
Jun 05, 2016 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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 ye
Mar 11, 2014 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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
mxa ☂︎
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
Jun 07, 2017 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Whitney Atkinson
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
Elle (ellexamines)
People in brightly lit places cannot see into the dark.

I guess we’re back on the bandwagon of reading 2010s-published YA fantasy that I missed out on when I was probably in the right age range to appreciate it. It is with gladness in my heart that I say I was very engaged with this fantasy, following a world inspired by Greco-Roman slavery and two main characters from different sides. It is with a heavier heart that I say some aspects of it really were not hitting their marks.

The be
April (Aprilius Maximus)
Jan 01, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: 2015
Felt a slight disconnect with the main character, but otherwise I loved it!
Dec 01, 2017 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
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
Helena Paris
Aug 21, 2018 rated it really liked it
“The Winner’s Curse is when you come out on top of the bid, but only by paying a steep price.” 

Ok, so I don’t know what happened to this buddy read with Laura, but I’m just going to go ahead with this review as it’s been sitting here in RTC-mode since 19 August. :D It’s about time, guys and gals!

All right! So, I was ecstatic about this book, after completing it, (as I read it in nearly one sitting initially) because I found the writing style to be so engaging and the plot to be so addicting. How
It’s a 4.5 star rating for the book by itself, but the narrator was no for me. It was killing me listening to the book and it was painful because I liked this story a lot and a friend of mine is reading for the first time and so I got nostalgic… it was a bummer. I did not enjoy it whatsoever and maybe it was me who didn’t click with the narrator but it was painful nonetheless.
Jan 31, 2015 rated it it was amazing
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 ...more
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
Apr 26, 2014 rated it it was amazing  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: favorites
three things:
1) i cannot remember the last time i fell in love with a book so quickly.
2) i knew i was signed up for emotional turmoil, but even my expectations could not have prepared me for the real experience.
3) this is now one of my favorite books ever.
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Marie Rutkoski is the New York Times bestselling author of several books for children and young adults, including THE HOLLOW HEART (September 14, 2021). Her debut for adults, REAL EASY (January 18, 2022), is a literary crime novel.

Born in Illinois, Marie holds degrees from the University of Iowa and Harvard University. She is currently a professor at Brooklyn College and lives in Brooklyn with he

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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