My reviews of the first two books in The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski probably made it clear that I wasn’t the biggest fan of the series, for a variety of reasons. The main ones being the lack of gripping plot, too much romantic drama, and some major issues with the character. Sadly, The Winner’s Kiss did not improve matters. At all.

The characters

I believe I’ve mentioned it before in relation to this trilogy but I just don’t like books that want to be epic yet have a cast of pretty much two characters. And it’s such a shame because side characters can be such a delight. Sadder still is the fact that the Winner’s Trilogy does have some excellent candidates, only they turn out to be utterly stereotypical instead. (With the exception of Roshar, of course.)

But for example, the Prince. He was there for a few scenes in the second book, played a teeeny-tiny part in the background to help Kestrel, then just… vanished. Worse still are Ronan and Jesse. For someone so important to Kestrel, they sure disappeared quick and silent. Only fuelling Kestrel’s tunnel vision: Arin, Arin, Arin.

Kestrel’s father, though, was the one thing I did enjoy. Somewhat. His relationship with Kestrel is one of those things that I found interesting and complex, even if it did get overshadowed by romance.

The plot

The good part about The Winner’s Kiss is that it does have some semblance of a plot. The bad thing is, it’s still not particularly impressive. Or, rather, it has all these developments that would almost better suit a second book, rather than the conclusive third one. The Winner’s Kiss pretty much ignores all those threads started in the first two books and goes on with a plot of its own. With a memory loss thrown into the fray.

And, once again, for a book that doesn’t have much action—if at all—but rather relies on intrigue and slow pace… It has to have something special or risk the chance of getting boring. And it was. Boring, I mean. At this point, I just didn’t care. About anything. Except getting to the end. Which, okay, was rather cute. So kudos for that.

The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

Nope, still not for me

I finished The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski mostly for the sake of finishing (and satisfying the OCD parts of my brain) and the verdict is the same one I have reached after the first book: this series has glorious political premises and is set in an interesting rich world, but sadly, it’s just three books of relationship drama. The villain is never there. The rebellion is weak. And the characters just didn’t do it for me. A pity, that.


The Winner's Kiss by Marie Rutkoski

The Winner’s Kiss by Marie Rutkoski (The Winner’s Trilogy #3)

The Winner's Trilogy #3

Published by Farrar, Straus and Giroux on March 29th 2016
Romance, Young Adult
More info on Goodreads, AmazonBookDepository

Some kisses come at a price.

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?


Also by the author: The Winner's Curse, The Winner's Crime

Book Recommendations

Falling Kingdoms by Morgan Rhodes Shadow and Bone by Leigh Bardugo The Wrath and the Dawn by Renee Ahdieh

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