Genres: Fantasy, Young Adult
Format Read: Paperback
Published by Bloomsbury Children's on March 24th 2016
Book Depository | Buy from publisher
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?
Mild spoilers for those that haven’t read the first two books. You have been warned!
Marie Rutkoski’s Winner’s trilogy has finally come to an end! I’ve got to admit, I don’t often finish book series’ on time (by on time I mean within a few months of the release of the final book :P), but I was too deeply invested in these characters to NOT want to find out once and for all whether they would have their happily ever after.
When we last left off in The Winner’s Crime, Rutkoski pretty much slammed a cliffhanger in our face. To be honest, I personally don’t mind cliffhangers, especially when they’re executed well — and my eagerness to pick up the final book in the series as soon as it came out is a testament to how well the cliffhanger was executed in book two, with Kestral on her way to the frozen north, condemned to work in the mines for treason.
Back in Herran, Arin is preparing with his new allies for war against Valoria, vowing to himself that he’ll move on from Kestral. Despite his Drakan alliance, his armies are outnumbered by the Valorian army, led by Kestral’s father. This book sees Arin falling deeper into his faith, allowing the god of Death to guide him through every battle.
Strategies, intrigue and war tactics — oh my!
Each battle that Arin rides into is a gamble, and you never really know whether he would survive with all his limbs intact. That’s what makes this series exciting — everything is about taking a gamble, and hoping that despite the circumstances that you can outsmart your enemies. Rutkoski does this SO WELL with her characters. Nothing comes easily for them, which makes for a much more exciting story. You seriously don’t know what will happen, because even despite small battle wins…they can always lose the war.
This is what’s so amazing about this series.
However, there are minor things that I think could definitely have been improved. The frozen north where Kestral was sent to is such an interesting place, but it wasn’t explored as thoroughly as I’d hoped. Kestral’s time there was View Spoiler »short-lived, and I was really surprised that she managed to escape within a few chapters. What is up with that. I get that the story had to move along, but…what was the point in even sending her there anyway? Yes, I get that it was so she’d end up losing her memories…but that just felt like lazy story telling « Hide Spoiler.
If you’re a fan of the romance rather than the war tactics, then you’re in luck. I’m not going to say much as I feel like it could be toeing the line into spoiler territory, but I will say that for me personally, I felt like the romance was a bit too over-the-top. I know it’s there to drive Arin and Kestral to survive, but I would have much preferred more war politics!
Overall, a very, very solid finish to a great series. Do recommend 🙂
Thank you to Bloomsbury Australia for providing a copy in exchange for an honest review.