Series: The Winner's Trilogy #1
Author: Marie Rutkoski
As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions.
One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin.
But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined. -Goodreads
Review: This was well-written and I overall enjoyed it. However, I was expecting...a little "more" on all fronts. What exactly do I mean? Well, this is labeled fantasy so I was expecting/anticipating a mystical element, which did not exist. There was a lot of world building in terms of the politics, which I liked, but I never got a real sense of the city or landscape. I had a love/hate relationship with Kestrel, our heroine, who was at times spunky, clever, dense and extremely boring. I did enjoy the romance aspect of the book and think it was handled well. I'll avoid spoilers but Kestrel is betrayed on a grand scale toward the end of the book and she reacts like a doormat. For someone who grew up in her position with her father's views, I didn't think that was realistic. The author also should have killed off two secondary characters in this book (maybe she has big plans for them in the next two books but they should not have survived).
While this book wasn't perfect, I still enjoyed the writing style, the political aspect of the book and the premise. I think the story has a lot of potential and I plan to read the rest of the series.