Review: The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski


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Some kisses come at a price.

War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.

At least, that’s what he thinks.

In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.

But no one gets what they want just by wishing.

As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?

This is the third and final book in the Winner’s trilogy. You can find my other reviews here:

The Winner’s Curse #1

The Winner’s Crime #2

Oh hey-o. The final book is here, you guys!

This is one of those rare instances where I’ve gone from liking a series to being absolutely in-freaking-love with it. What started out as a pretty standard forbidden romance has launched into a masterpiece of war-games.

Kestrel is out for revenge. She’s been imprisoned for who-only-knows how long and for what is rare in this series, finds herself needing to be saved. I loved seeing her broken, and the transition from the shell of a person to the badass warrior she becomes by the end was a fun one to read. Kestrel has always been a strong, intriguing character but Rutkoski takes her even further this time around.

Arin is a flat out babe. His poor heart has been torn out, and right from the opening chapters the relationship he develops with his ‘God of Death’ pulls you in and makes you want to find out what the heck is going on with him. The cuddly bear/vicious killer contrast of his character makes him so interesting to read.

And of course, there’s no way I can review this book without mentioning Roshar. The Eastern Price is full of quick wit and sarcastic comments, and his unique personality is maintained throughout the whole book. He was a blast to read, and I’m pretty sure Rutkoski could have switched the series to his POV and I really wouldn’t have minded at all.

For a long book, the pace was fast and every chapter kept me turning the pages. The relationship between the three main characters carried the plot and the wars fought for Herran were described in amazing detail. I loved to see the heavy plotting and strategising. Not to mention the deaths. So. Many.  Deaths.

Then there was the romance. It was so perfect. Not over the top, the plot was central, but enough that it kept me gooey with anticipation. Kestrel and Arin are both damaged characters who need time to rebuild themselves and I’m glad there was nothing rushed for the sake of them ‘getting together’.

I highly recommend this series to anyone looking for real characters with real flaws and an epic setting. Kestrel is such a clever character and she was so much fun to complete the journey with.

AOaR_5star (3)

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