The Winner's Kiss (The Winner's Trilogy #3)
by Marie Rutkoski
Hardcover, 484 pages
Release Date: March 29th, 2016
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Genre: YA Fantasy
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Goodreads Summary: Some kisses come at a price.
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.
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.
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?
The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski is the final novel in the Winner’s Trilogy. Often, final books are often difficult to satisfy readers’ high expectations, but Rutkoski concludes this series perfectly filled with exhilarating battles.
At the start, readers immediately dive into a conflict filled with high tension. Protagonist Kestrel is the daughter of General Trajan, who serves the ruler of the Valorian Empire. She chooses to marry the Crown Prince in the previous novel so she can help Arin, a Herrani slave, save his territory. However, when Kestrel is discovered spying for the Herrani, her own father sends her to frozen prison camps in the North, where slave laborers are forced to work under the influence of drugs.
Meanwhile, Arin takes Kestrel’s cold attitude towards him as Kestrel’s selfish desire for power. Little did he know, Kestrel is The Moth, a spy within the Valorian Empire who secretly delivers information to Arin’s spymaster.
The Valorian Empire captured the Herran peninsula years earlier and enslaved the Herranis. After the Herranis’ successful rebellion against the Valorian Empire, Arin is now the leader of the people. The emperor of Valoria agrees to allow Arin to govern Herran under the condition that he reports back to Valoria. Unknown to Arin, the emperor’s generosity is fabricated by Kestrel.
Despite the agreement between Valoria and Herran, suspicion continues to grow and war continues to brew. Arin creates an alliance with the eastern empires while the crafty Valorian emperor poisons the Herranis’ water supply. As the tension between the eastern and western empires increase, Kestrel tries to stay sane despite her drugged food while Arin slowly discovers the true identity of his enemy.
Though the Winner’s trilogy starts off rather romantic and tame, it builds the setting for its sequels. If you are looking for a cleverly crafted high fantasy novel, take a plunge into Rutkoski’s action-packed series filled with revenge, deceits, and betrayal.
The Rating: (1-10): 10~