The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkowski




Winning what you want may cost you everything you love.

They were never meant to be together. As a general’s daughter, seventeen-year-old Kestrel enjoys an extravagant and privileged life. Arin has nothing but the clothes on his back. Then Kestrel makes an impulsive decision that binds Arin to her. Though they try to fight it, they can’t help but fall in love. In order to be together, they must betray their people… but to be loyal to their country, they must betray each other.

first sentence

She shouldn’t have been tempted.

my thoughts

The above synopsis is actually from the first book of the trilogy, The Winner’s Curse, but I think it’s fitting for the entire series. I read this book expecting it to be completely different from how it turned out, and I’m so thrilled it ended up the way it did. It truly was a story of love and betrayal.

Kestrel and Arin didn’t have a normal start. Kestrel was the daughter of a conquering general. Arin was her slave. And, while Kestrel often behaved in a surprisingly naive way given her brilliant strategic mind, she did manage to build a solid friendship with Arin, and he with her.

I want better choices.

Then we must make a world that has them.

The book is told from the perspectives of both Arin and Kestrel, so we get a good view of the story, and we know each person’s motives for their actions. We feel what the characters feel. We feel their love, we feel their hurt, and we feel their betrayal, even when we as the readers know that everything Kestrel and Arin do is to keep the other safe. It’s not always the right thing, but it’s often the best that can be done given their circumstances.

It made him wonder which pain was greater: to give up something precious, or to see it taken away.

The writing in this trilogy is often beautiful. The story is dark, and I spent the last half of the trilogy expecting everyone I loved to die at the end. I won’t tell you whether or not that is true. You’ll have to feel it yourself.

Despite the fact that Kestrel and Arin are both children playing in a monster’s playpen, their successes and failures feel realistic, as though they actually could accomplish what they accomplished, even if they don’t have the experience of their enemies. Intelligence, hope, and love allowed them to accomplish what others could not.

Her fierce creature of a mind: sleek and sharp–clawed and utterly unwilling to be caught.



I honestly loved this series. It was a reminder of what it means to do the right thing, even when it’s hard. And what it means to love someone so much that you would give up everything for them. It’s a little too serious to add to my guilty pleasures list, but I would still read it again. It’s a good, cozy read.

rating 4.5 out of 5

The Winner’s Curse:

The Winner’s Crime:

The Winner’s Kiss:




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