Wednesday, November 30, 2016

The Winner's Curse by Marie Rutkoski

Valorians are warriors. Conquerors.  Herranis are the conquered. Enslaved. For the last ten years, this has been the way of life. For Kestrel, the daughter of a Valerian general, she knows the role her father expects her to play: she can either join the military or get married. But then one day, in a sympathetic moment, she makes a choice that leads her and her people on a path that she could've never anticipated.

In a world of slaves and military prowess, Kestrel's intelligence and depth of feeling make life more complicated than necessary and I liked her struggling through the conflict between what she has always known and what her heart is beginning to tell her is right. I liked that it is a deeper book, not shying away from the violence or tragedy of the situation - and letting ethical issues settle uncomfortably so that both the character and the reader have to sort it out.   I liked this alternate (not fantasy) world that reminds me of Ancient Rome, with an empire, its growing pains and two rivaling classes of people sharing a space that formerly governed itself.

The idea that just because you win what you wanted doesn't mean you haven't paid too high a price - this thought is an intriguing one. The romantic thread, while vaguely predictable, is still very well done and has me ready to read the next book now!

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