The Winner's Crime (Winner's Trilogy Series #2)

The Winner's Crime (Winner's Trilogy Series #2)

by Marie Rutkoski


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Following your heart can be a crime

A royal wedding is what most girls dream about. It means one celebration after another: balls, fireworks, and revelry until dawn. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement: that she agreed to marry the crown prince in exchange for Arin's freedom. But can Kestrel trust Arin? Can she even trust herself? For Kestrel is becoming very good at deception. She's working as a spy in the court. If caught, she'll be exposed as a traitor to her country. Yet she can't help searching for a way to change her ruthless world . . . and she is close to uncovering a shocking secret. This dazzling follow-up to The Winner's Curse reveals the high price of dangerous lies and untrustworthy alliances. The truth will come out, and when it does, Kestrel and Arin will learn just how much their crimes will cost them.

The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski is the second book in the Winner's Trilogy.

The Winner's Crime teeters on a knife-sharp edge between devastatingly romantic one moment and simply devastating the next. Marie Rutkoski has captivated me with her world of mind games, power struggles, and espionage, and left me positively desperate to see how Kestrel and Arin's story will play out.” —Marissa Meyer, New York Times-bestselling author of the Lunar Chronicles series

"The middle entry in a fantasy trilogy brings new players to the game while exponentially raising the stakes. . . . . The twisty plot is a cleverly constructed puzzle box of intrigue and deceit, couched in graceful prose that shifts from restrained to voluptuous. . . . Enthralling, agonizing and incandescent." —Kirkus Reviews, starred review

“Brilliant plotting and absolutely gorgeous writing combine to make The Winner's Crime a standout, but it is the complex, deeply layered characters with their gut wrenching dilemmas and impossible choices that cracked my heart wide open. It left me breathless and craving more—I don't know how I will be able to wait for the final book. A truly unforgettable read!” —Robin LaFevers, New York Times–bestselling author of Grave Mercy and Dark Triumph

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780374384708
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux
Publication date: 03/03/2015
Series: Winner's Trilogy Series , #2
Pages: 416
Sales rank: 491,755
Product dimensions: 5.90(w) x 8.30(h) x 1.50(d)
Lexile: HL610L (what's this?)
Age Range: 12 - 17 Years

About the Author

Marie Rutkoski is the author of The Winner's Curse, The Shadow Society, and the Kronos Chronicles, which includes The Cabinet of Wonders. She is a professor at Brooklyn College and lives in New York City.

Read an Excerpt

The Winner's Crime

The Winner's Trilogy Book Two

By Marie Rutkoski

Farrar, Straus and Giroux

Copyright © 2015 Marie Rutkoski
All rights reserved.
ISBN: 978-0-374-38471-5


She cut herself opening the envelope.

Kestrel had been eager, she'd been a fool, tearing into the letter simply because it had been addressed in Herrani script. The letter opener slipped. Seeds of blood hit the paper and bloomed bright.

It wasn't, of course, from him. The letter was from Herran's new minister of agriculture. He wrote to introduce himself, and to say he looked forward to when they would meet. I believe you and I have much in common and much to discuss, he wrote.

Kestrel wasn't sure what he meant by that. She didn't know him, or even of him. Although she supposed she would have to meet with the minister at some point—she was, after all, the imperial ambassador to the now independent territory of Herran—Kestrel didn't anticipate spending time with the minister of agriculture. She had nothing to say on crop rotation or fertilizer.

Kestrel caught the haughty tone of her thoughts. She felt the way it thinned her mouth. She realized that she was furious at this letter.

At herself. At the way her heart had leaped to see her name scrawled in the Herrani alphabet on the envelope. She had hoped so hard that it was from Arin.

But she'd had no contact with him for nearly a month, not since she'd offered him his country's freedom. And the envelope hadn't even been addressed in his hand. She knew his writing. She knew the fingers that would hold the pen. Blunt-cut nails, silver scars from old burns, the calloused scrape of his palm, all very at odds with his elegant cursive. Kestrel should have known right away that the letter wasn't from him.

But still: the quick slice of paper. Still: the disappointment.

Kestrel set aside the letter. She pulled the silk sash from her waist, threading it out from under the dagger that she, like all Valorians, wore strapped to her hip. She wound the sash around her bleeding hand. She was ruining the sash's ivory silk. Her blood spotted it. But a ruined sash didn't matter, not to her. Kestrel was engaged to Prince Verex, heir to the Valorian empire. The proof of it was marked daily on her brow in an oiled, glittering line. She had sashes upon sashes, dresses upon dresses, a river of jewels. She was the future empress.

Yet when she stood from her carved ebony chair, she was unsteady. She looked around her study, one of many rooms in her suite, and was unsettled by the stone walls, the corners set insistently into perfect right angles, the way two narrow hallways cut into the room. It should have made sense to Kestrel, who knew that the imperial palace was also a fortress. Tight hallways were a way to bottleneck an invading force. Yet it looked unfriendly and alien. It was so different from her home.

Kestrel reminded herself that her home in Herran had never really been hers. She may have been raised in that colony, but she was Valorian. She was where she was supposed to be. Where she had chosen to be.

The cut had stopped bleeding.

Kestrel left the letter and went to change her day dress for dinner. This was her life: rich fabric and watered silk trim. A dinner with the emperor ... and the prince.

Yes, this was her life.

She must get used to it.

* * *

The emperor was alone. He smiled when she entered his stone-walled dining room. His gray hair was cropped in the same military style as her father's, his eyes dark and keen. He didn't stand from the long table to greet her.

"Your Imperial Majesty." She bowed her head.

"Daughter." His voice echoed in the vaulted chamber. It rang against the empty plates and glasses. "Sit."

She moved to do so.

"No," he said. "Here, at my right hand."

"That's the prince's place."

"The prince, it seems, is not here."

She sat. Slaves served the first course. They poured white wine. She could have asked why he had summoned her to dinner, and where the prince might be, but Kestrel had seen how the emperor loved to shape silence into a tool that pried open the anxieties of others. She let the silence grow until it was of her making as well as his, and only when the third course arrived did she speak. "I hear the campaign against the east goes well."

"So your father writes from the front. I must reward him for an excellently waged war. Or perhaps, Lady Kestrel, it's you I should reward."

She drank from her cup. "His success is none of my doing."

"No? You urged me to put an end to the Herrani rebellion by giving that territory self-governance under my law. You argued that this would free up troops and money to fuel my eastern war, and lo"—he flourished a hand—"it did. What clever advice from one so young."

His words made her nervous. If he knew the real reason she had argued for Herrani independence, she would pay for it. Kestrel tried the painstakingly prepared food. There were boats made from a meat terrine, their sails clear gelatin. She ate slowly.

"Don't you like it?" said the emperor.

"I'm not very hungry."

He rang a golden bell. "Dessert," he told the serving boy who instantly appeared. "We'll skip ahead to dessert. I know how young ladies enjoy sweet things." But when the boy returned bearing two small plates made from porcelain so fine Kestrel could see light sheer through the rims, the emperor said, "None for me," and one plate was set before Kestrel along with a strangely light and translucent fork.

She calmed herself. The emperor didn't know the truth about the day she had pushed for an end to the Herrani rebellion. No one did. Not even Arin knew that she had bought his freedom with a few strategic words ... and the promise to wed the crown prince.

If Arin knew, he would fight it. He'd ruin himself.

If the emperor knew why she had done it, he would ruin her.

Kestrel looked at the pile of pink whipped cream on her plate, and at the clear fork, as if they composed the whole of her world. She must speak cautiously. "What need have I of a reward, when you have given me your only son?"

"And such a prize he is. Yet we've no date set for the wedding. When shall it be? You've been quiet on the subject."

"I thought Prince Verex should decide." If the choice were left to the prince, the wedding date would be never.

"Why don't we decide?"

"Without him?"

"My dear girl, if the prince's slippery mind cannot remember something so simple as the day and time of a dinner with his father and lady, how can we expect him to plan any part of the most important state event in decades?"

Kestrel said nothing.

"You're not eating," he said.

She sank the clear fork into the cream and lifted it to her mouth. The fork's tines dissolved against her tongue. "Sugar," she said with surprise. "The fork is made of hardened sugar."

"Do you like the dessert?"


"Then you must eat it all."

But how to finish the cream if the fork continued to dissolve each time she took a mouthful? Most of the fork remained in her hand, but it wouldn't last.

A game. The dessert was a game, the conversation a game. The emperor wanted to see how she would play.

He said, "I think the end of this month would be ideal for a wedding."

Kestrel ate more of the cream. The tines completely vanished, leaving something that resembled an aborted spoon. "A winter wedding? There will be no flowers."

"You don't need flowers."

"If you know that young ladies like dessert, you must also know that they like flowers."

"I suppose you'd prefer a spring wedding, then."

Kestrel lifted one shoulder in a shrug. "Summer would be best."

"Luckily my palace has hothouses. Even in winter, we could carpet the great hall with petals."

Kestrel silently ate more of the dessert. Her fork turned into a flat stick.

"Unless you want to postpone the wedding," said the emperor.

"I'm thinking of our guests. The empire is vast. People will come from every province. Winter is a terrible time to travel and spring little better. It rains. The roads become muddy."

The emperor leaned back in his chair, studying her with an amused expression.

"Also," she said, "I'd hate to waste an opportunity. You know that the nobles and governors will give you what they can—favors, information, gold—for the best seats at the wedding. The mystery of what I'll wear and what music will be played will distract the empire. No one would notice if you made a political decision that would otherwise outrage thousands. If I were you, I would enjoy my long engagement. Use it for all it's worth."

He laughed. "Oh, Kestrel. What an empress you will be." He raised his glass. "To your happy union, on the day of Firstsummer."

She would have had to drink to that, had not Prince Verex entered the dining room and stopped short, his large eyes showing every shift of emotion: surprise, hurt, anger.

"You're late," his father said.

"I am not." Verex's hands clenched.

"Kestrel managed to be here on time. Why couldn't you?"

"Because you told me the wrong hour."

The emperor tsked. "You misremember."

"You're making me look the fool!"

"I am making you look nothing of the kind."

Verex's mouth snapped shut. His head bobbed on his thin neck like something caught in a current.

"Come," Kestrel said gently. "Have dessert with us."

The look he shot her told Kestrel that he might hate his father's games, but he hated her pity more. He fled the room.

Kestrel toyed with her stub of a sugar fork. Even after the prince's noisy course down the hall had dwindled into silence, she knew better than to speak.

"Look at me," the emperor said.

She raised her eyes.

"You don't want a summer wedding for the sake of flowers, or guests, or political purchase," he said. "You want to postpone it for as long as possible."

Kestrel held the fork tightly.

"I'll give you what you want, within reason," he said, "and I will tell you why. Because I don't blame you, given your bridegroom. Because you don't whine for what you want, but seek to win it. Like I would. When you look at me, you see who you will become. A ruler. I have chosen you, Kestrel, and will make you into everything my son cannot be. Someone fit to take my place."

Kestrel looked, and her look became a stare that searched for her future in an old man capable of cruelty to his own child.

He smiled. "Tomorrow I'd like for you to meet with the captain of the imperial guard."

She had never met the captain before, but was familiar enough with his role. Officially, he was responsible for the emperor's personal safety. Unofficially, this duty spread to others that no one discussed. Surveillance. Assassinations. The captain was good at making people vanish.

"He has something to show you," the emperor said.

"What is it?"

"A surprise. Now look happy, Kestrel. I'm giving you everything that you could want."

Sometimes the emperor was generous. She'd seen audiences with him where he'd given senators private land in new colonies, or powerful seats in the Quorum. But she'd also seen how his generosity tempted others to ask for just a little more. Then his eyes went heavy-lidded, like a cat's, and she would see how his gifts made people reveal what they really wanted.

Nonetheless, she couldn't help hoping that the wedding could be put off for longer than a few months. Firstsummer was better than next week, of course, but still too soon. Much too soon. Would the emperor agree to a year? More? She said, "Firstsummer—"

"Is the perfect date."

Kestrel's gaze fell to her closed hand. It opened with a sweet scent and rested empty on the table.

The sugar fork had vanished against the heat of her palm.


Arin was in his father's study, which he probably would never be able to think of as his own, no matter how old the ghosts of his dead family grew.

It was a clear day. The view from the study window showed the city in detail, with its ruined patches left by the rebellion. The pale wafer of a winter sun gave Herran's harbor a blurry glow.

Arin wasn't thinking of her. He wasn't. He was thinking of how slowly the city walls were being rebuilt. Of the hearthnut harvest soon to come in the southern countryside, and how it would bring much-needed food and trade to Herran. He wasn't thinking of Kestrel, or of the past month and a week of not thinking of her. But not thinking was like lifting slabs of rock, and he was so distracted by the strain of it that he didn't hear Sarsine enter the room, or notice his cousin at all until she had shoved an opened letter at him.

The broken seal showed the sigil of crossed swords. A letter from the Valorian emperor. Sarsine's face told Arin that he wouldn't like what he was about to read.

"What is it?" he asked. "Another tax?" He rubbed his eyes. "The emperor must know we can't pay, not again, not so soon after the last levy. This is ruinous."

"Well, now we see why the emperor so kindly returned Herran to the Herrani."

They had discussed this before. It seemed the only explanation to such an unexpected decision. Revenues from Herran used to go into the pockets of the Valorian aristocrats who had colonized it. Then came the Firstwinter Rebellion and the emperor's decree, and those aristocrats had returned to the capital, the loss of their land named as a cost of war. Now the emperor was able to bleed Herran dry through taxes its people were unable to protest. The territory's wealth flowed directly into imperial coffers.

A devious move. But what worried Arin most was the nagging sense that he was missing something. It had been hard to think that day when Kestrel had handed him the emperor's offer and demands. It had been hard to see anything but the gold line that had marked her brow.

"Just tell me how much it'll cost this time," he said to Sarsine.

Her mouth screwed into a knot. "Not a tax. An invitation." She left the room.

Arin unfolded the paper. His hands went still.

As governor of Herran, Arin was requested to attend a ball in the Valorian capital. In honor of the engagement of Lady Kestrel to Crown Prince Verex, read the letter.

Sarsine had called it an invitation, but Arin recognized it for what it was: an order, one that he had no power to disobey, even though he was supposedly no longer a slave.

Arin's eyes lifted from the page and gazed upon the harbor. When Arin had worked on the docks, one of the other slaves was known as the Favor-Keeper.

Slaves had no possessions, or at least nothing that their Valorian conquerors would recognize as such. Even if Arin had had something of his own, he had no pockets to hold it. Clothes with pockets went to house slaves only. This was the measure of life under the Valorians: that the Herrani people knew their place according to whether they had pockets and the illusion of being able to keep something private within them.

Yet slaves still had a currency. They traded favors. Extra food. A thicker pallet. The luxury of a few minutes of rest while someone else worked. If a slave on the docks wanted something, he asked the Favor-Keeper, the oldest Herrani among them.

The Favor-Keeper kept a ball of thread with a different-colored string for each man. If Arin had had a request, his string would have been spooled and looped and spindled around another one, perhaps yellow, and that yellow string might have wound its way about a green one, depending on who owed what. The Favor-Keeper's knot recorded it all.

But Arin had had no string. He had asked for nothing. He gave nothing. Already a young man then, he had despised the thought of being in debt to anyone.

Now he studied the Valorian emperor's letter. It was beautifully inked. Artfully phrased. It fit well with Arin's surroundings, with the liquid-like varnish of his father's desk and the leaded glass windows that shot winter light into the study.

The light made the emperor's words all too easy to read.

Arin crushed the paper into his fist and squeezed hard. He wished for a Favor-Keeper. He would forsake his pride to become a simple string, if only he could have what he wanted.

Arin would trade his heart for a snarled knot of thread if it meant he would never have to see Kestrel again.

* * *

He consulted with Tensen. The elderly man studied the uncrumpled and flattened invitation, his pale green eyes gleaming. He set the thick, wrinkled page on Arin's desk and tapped the first line of writing with one dry finger. "This," he said, "is an excellent opportunity."

"Then you'll go," said Arin.

"Of course."

"Without me."

Tensen pursed his lips. He gave Arin that schoolmaster's look that had served him well as a tutor to Valorian children. "Arin. Let's not be proud."

"It's not pride. I'm too busy. You'll represent Herran at the ball."

"I don't think that the emperor will be satisfied with a mere minister of agriculture."

"I don't care for the emperor's satisfaction."

"Sending me, alone, will either insult the emperor or reveal to him that I'm more important than I seem." Tensen rubbed his grizzled jaw, considering Arin. "You need to go. It's a part you must play. You're a good actor."


Excerpted from The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski. Copyright © 2015 Marie Rutkoski. Excerpted by permission of Farrar, Straus and Giroux.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Winner's Crime 4.5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 31 reviews.
erinlee20 More than 1 year ago
Oehrbxohsbjsosowkmxnfjskkdbdb. We did this one slightly different so if you follow the blog you will know we didn't want to spoil this for anyone. I will sum up my feelings below with an appropriate image and our blog post. Trust me, you just need to read this book as soon as you can! What are your overall feelings about this book? Erin: Just like The Winner's Curse, I loved everything about this book. It felt very different from book one though because Kestrel and Arin are on separate paths and although their stories intertwined, they felt very separate. In the end, I thought this added to the overall story and made it that much better! Jaime: I did too... I thought I knew what was going to happen, but I was completely wrong. This story has everything, sacrifice, romance, betrayal and political drama ... you just can't go wrong. With an incredible cast of characters, Rutkoski will have you on the edge of your seat. What was your favorite part? Erin: Maybe the balcony scene...although the scene in the music room killed me. Just all the inner turmoil Kestrel had and seeing her struggle with what she had to do versus what she really wanted to do. OMG - I don't even know how to choose. Jaime: All of it? I did love the scene in the music room though... and yes the balcony... and well, let's be honest each and every interaction between Arin & Kestrel had me dreaming of sappy romantic things. What was your least favorite part? Erin: That it that an acceptable answer? Jaime: I have none. I mean, each and every part, even the heartbreaking and crushing parts were so amazing. We both love Kestrel and Arin...what did you think about how their stories progressed in The Winner's Crime? Erin: AHHH - I just want these two to be happy and together. Obviously the choices they have made have brought them to where they are now but a number of things happened that I didn't expect. I know that sounds pretty vague but Rutkoski sure knows how to create some angst. Jaime: Happy and together would be lovely... how do we get that? Honestly though, their story is a rough one from the very start. Star-crossed and impossible, how could it possibly work between these two? I don't even have the answer but I want ... no I need it! Everyone is talking about the ending of the book. Without spoilers...what did you think about it? Erin: Seriously...I don't know how we are expected to go through that and then have to wait another year for what happens next. I mean, UGH! I love this story and these characters so much and I will get on my knees and beg to whoever I have to in order to get a copy of the next book. Jaime: Torture. Plain and simple. It hurts just to think about it.
Reading-is-My-Treasure More than 1 year ago
The Winner's Crime lives up to expectations. It's a sequel that fans of the series will absolutely love. The writing was beautiful! There was a lot of great creative descriptive language. Sometimes, a lot of odd metaphors, similes, etc. can bog down a book and annoy a reader, but they were pulled off in this book. The author is a really good writer. I felt bad for Kestrel. She seems to be misunderstood by everyone. Everyone except for the readers. I understand why she makes the choices she makes and I wish more people would let her explain herself. She doesn't have a lot of freedom to do what she really wants to do without disastrous repercussions. That oftentimes pushes her to make decisions that upset people, which then upsets me because I just want them to understand her! I still loved Arin, but I Kestrel stole the book for me. I did love his growth as a leader, though. The two of them together (well, the the dynamic between them) are amazing. Their relationship hurts more than it doesn't, but I still love them. There are so many secrets. So much betrayal. So much MISUNDERSTANDING. I wanted to shove them into a locked room (alone) and make them talk and hug and kiss it all out. The bumpiness in their relationship is one of the things that makes me love it so much (despite the pain and heartbreak), though, so I'm okay with a little more drama between them. And I know there will definitely be a lot more of it in the last book! I loved the new developments that took place, especially towards the end. I really like where the story is headed in terms of the politics and the Valorian and Herrani conflict. I loved the family aspect. Kestrel and her father grew a little closer in this book. They have such a strained relationship, though. Her father wasn't the most loyal one, but I hope that he grows and learns to respect her more. The ending killed me.  My reaction in my notes after finishing: WHAT. WHY? DON'T DO THISSS! *weeps* HORRIBLE. THAT WAS HORRIBLE. So, yeah. That ending was torturous. It's one that tears out your her and stomps on it with glee. I NEED the last book. I need to know what happens next!  Overall, The Winner's Crime is a sequel that deserves all the hype and all caps reactions it gets. It was a great continuation of the story. If you haven't read the first book, I suggest doing so. And soon! Rating: 4.5 out of 5 stars
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I reccomend waiting until the next book comes out because this book had one overall sad.
Alyssa75 More than 1 year ago
***Review posted on The Eater of Books! blog*** The Winner's Crime by Marie Rutkoski Book Two of The Winner's Trilogy Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) Publication Date: March 3, 2015 Rating: 4 stars Source: eARC from NetGalley Summary (from Goodreads): The engagement of Lady Kestrel to Valoria’s crown prince means one celebration after another. But to Kestrel it means living in a cage of her own making. As the wedding approaches, she aches to tell Arin the truth about her engagement…if she could only trust him. Yet can she even trust herself? For—unknown to Arin—Kestrel is becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit: an anonymous spy passing information to Herran, and close to uncovering a shocking secret. As Arin enlists dangerous allies in the struggle to keep his country’s freedom, he can’t fight the suspicion that Kestrel knows more than she shows. In the end, it might not be a dagger in the dark that cuts him open, but the truth. And when that happens, Kestrel and Arin learn just how much their crimes will cost them. What I Liked: It has taken me an incredibly long time to write this review. When I initially finished the book, the first thought in my head was, "I am slain." Rutkoski, you are a wonderful and terrible person. This series will probably rip my heart to shreds - and I can't say I'll enjoy the process. This book and The Winner's Curse are AMAZING novels, beautifully written and frighteningly tragic, and I can't stop reading. It's one of those times when you KNOW things are just going to go straight downhill but you can't look away... Kestrel is preparing to marry the son of the emperor, and there is ball after dinner after celebration. Kestrel plays a dangerous game with the emperor, risking her reputation and life to help the Herrani - not that Arin knows she's helping them. Arin is in the dark about what her motives are for marrying the prince - Kestrel lets Arin believe that she wants to marry him. Meanwhile, Arin is trying to gather support for the Herrani's cause. They may be free, but they will never be quite free from the emperor. With no ally in Kestrel (or so he thinks), Arin turns to other sources for alliances, even if it will kill him. This book hurt. It hurt to read this one, from beginning to end. So much deception, lies, false betrayal, withholding information, failed explanations, guilt, pain, sadness, resignation, pain pain pain... this is one of those books that make you FEEL, but I wouldn't necessarily say in a good way. The hurting kind of feels, where your heart cracks and your soul splits and life is sad and sadder and really sad. Kestrel lies to Arin. Arin doesn't understand, but he knows she's lying... until she tells lie after lie and he starts to believe her. This broke my heart. I haaaate deception, especially when it comes to the two protagonists. At one point, I seriously disliked Kestrel; how dare she hurt him so?! But then, the opposite can be said, in The Winner's Curse. It's like Arin and Kestrel enjoy hurting each other - but we know that isn't the case. I like the growth of their relationship. Arin and Kestrel don't see each other many times in this book, but their thoughts revolve around each other. When either aren't scheming, they think about each other. Even when they ARE scheming, it's usually with the other person in mind. Arin loves Kestrel, but Kestrel wants to hide her feelings for Arin, because it will get him killed by the emperor. Kestrel lies to Arin constantly (when they DO see each other), but WE know why. ARIN doesn't. A lot of time passes in this book, and a lot happens in the story. We get to know Kestrel better, Arin better, the prince better, even the emperor and the General. The emperor is ruthless and cruel, and doesn't hesitate to use the torture of prisoners to show Kestrel exactly what he is capable of. Kestrel's wedding is very close, by the end of the book - just to give you an idea of the time covered in this book. A lot of characterization, a lot of terrible and sad events, a lot of death. You know my thoughts on Kestrel and Arin, so that speaks for the romance in this book. The romance is there, but it's not. There aren't many purely romantic scenes in this book, but the few that are presented are beautiful and torturous. I hope Rutkoski makes up for it in the third book. Just like in The Winner's Curse, the writing in this book is beautiful. I love Rutkoski's writing style. And the world-building is flawless. I love fantasy, and Rutkoski has a great feel for fantasy. Her idea of fantasy is truly epic and lush and majestic and cruel. The politics is an important part of this fantasy world, as there is a ton of scheming and blackmail and subterfuge going on. Love! Overall, I loved/hated this book. Really, I loved it, but at the same time, my heart hurts so much. The ending was a huuuge cliffhanger, and nothing is resolved (yet?). If anything, it seems like everything is even more muddled and messed up and confusing. I just want things to be sorted out! Perhaps in the third. You better, Rutkoski! As I cry noisily...  What I Did Not Like: I hate cliffhangers. And boy did this one end on one big one. Also, I love/hate this book in general... which isn't necessarily a dislike, but UGH WHY YOU GOTTA BE SO CRUEL, BOOK?! You fellow bookworms understand me (I hope).  Would I Recommend It: Yeeeesss. Read The Winner's Curse, if you haven't already. Read this one too. This is a fabulous example of a well-written, well-structured sequel. It sets the scene for an epic showdown in book three, with seriously high stakes, plenty to be lost. I can't wait! But I can. Except I can't. Rating: 4 stars. This one "loses" a star because the cliffhanger is complete torture and I haaate it, but waiting for new books is the best kind of torture, it seems. Meanwhile, I'll be in therapy, if anyone needs me!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
It was absolutely perfect
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Good second book in the series
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
RBlodgett More than 1 year ago
The series gets better. The tension mounted throughout The Winner's Crime and it was very satisfying. Oh the ending...or I should say starting at chapter 43. I've said to several people not only how much I enjoy the series but how beautifully the author says things effortlessly. Rich, vivid descriptions without feeling overworked and heavy handed. Too often when people praise an authors use of language I find myself re-reading because it's so convoluted. This is not the case with Marie Rutkoski in my opinion. I'm so glad I finally discovered her books. Can't wait for The Winner's Kiss - getting my copy Sunday, signed by the author, so excited.
yu-squared More than 1 year ago
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
This book has progressed so much from the first and it's turning into a amazing story! It was SO frustrating to see Arin doubt himself so much when he really had the correct idea. I can't wait to read the third book I hope Kestrel and Arin can figure things out, I know the next book will be an amazing end from what I hear.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I loved the first book and I thought this book was great too. I know it's hard comparing the first book to the second and if I had to do that then I would say the first book beats the second one, but barely! Yes, there is a lot of back and forth with Kestral and Arin and nothing truly gets resolved but the way the author wrote everything makes it so heartbreaking and tragic, you just have to keep reading. I will, without a doubt be getting the third installment, I've been waiting a year to read it. The author writes so beautifully and with this tragic, self sacrifice theme that was in this book, (which I love. Will the sacrifice go unnoticed? and what will it do to Arin when he finally realizes what happened?), how can one not want to read the last installment. This is my second favorite series of all time. I think the way the author writes is comparable to any other. So beautiful and descriptive!
AsDreamsAreMade More than 1 year ago
Original Review Link: OMG. I can’t even form words for this book. The Winner’s Crime picks up right where The Winner’s Curse left off. With THAT ending. Kestrel is now engaged to Verex, the Emperor’s son. Her freedom is limited and her choices are few, along with everybody under the Emperor’s control. She decides to become a spy for Herran and pass on vital information. Arin is also forced to play a game as the new governor to Herran, which is now independent, but under allegiance to the Emperor. Everything that Kestrel and Arin decide, will effect not only their lives, but those of Herran and the rest of the Empire. AHHH!!!!! Ok, got that out of the way. This book is a lot darker than the last one, however it’s even better. Kestrel’s decision to become a spy for Herran is both brave and dangerous. She refuses to let Arin know the real reason of her engagement and to tell him that she is his spy would prove fatal as Arin would sacrifice himself and his country for her welfare. They both keep secrets from one another and at times you just want to yell at both of them, “Just tell him/her!” Usually, this type of feeling annoys the bejeezes out of me, but for some reason, I really felt this was an integral part of this story and didn’t mind at all. Arin in this book. ARIN IN THIS BOOK. He was incredibly stupid at times, but just the feels for him. THE FEELS! I loved the tragic struggles that everyone in this books goes through. That makes me sound incredibly cruel, but you will too, trust me. Kestrel’s relationship with everyone around her is put to the straining point and her intelligence is tested to the extreme. The twist at the end (even though it wasn’t REALLY a twist, but I didn’t think it could possibly happen!). I need the final book. Please give it to me. Please?
EverAfterEsther More than 1 year ago
The Winner's Curse was my favourite read in 2014, and so I had high hopes for its sequel. Never fear - The Winner's Crime was a perfect follow up, and it was just as stunning and intense as its predecessor. Reasons to Read: 1. An emotional roller coaster: My heart could barely handle the events in The Winner's Curse, so you can imagine that I was already feeling a bit anxious reading The Winner's Crime. But it takes a very special story to make me feel this way, as I rarely feel as invested in the outcome of a book as I do with this one! I love these characters, and I desperately want things to turn out well for them! 2. Extra world building: I'm a believer that a great fantasy book is built on a foundation of strong world building. In The Winner's Curse, this was well-done but we only saw the tip of the iceberg. The world is further developed in this story, as we see more of Valoria. 3. Kestrel walks a fine line: Kestrel truly showcases her talents and intelligence as she delicately walks a fine line between two sides. She's so aware of the dilemma at hand, and how she refuses to let others control her. This puts her in a dangerous position, as she encounters other characters who may be able to outwit her careful plans. Kestrel risks so much, and for very little in return - so much of her character is revealed by her willingness to sacrifice.  ARC received from publisher for review as part of a blog tour; no other compensation was received. 
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Great work on how you put the words i wish i was a good writer like you
Fantastic_Book More than 1 year ago
I thought The Winner’s Curse knocked it out of the park but The Winner’s Crime takes the cake. This installment was filled with nail biting tension. I felt like I was watching a game of cat and mouse and could only hold my breath and hope that Kestra and Arin weren’t in over their heads.  The characters in this book are unforgettable. The things that they endured for what they believed in made me fall in love with them even more. Every interaction with Kestra and Arian had me on the edge of my seat. I could only wait to see how everything would play out. And boy did it go in a direction that I could have never imagined!  Oh what a tangled web we weave...I can't wait to see how the next book unfolds. Just brilliant!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Wow. I love the first book, and was really intrigued in the beginning with this one. Unfortunatly, the same discussion amd thoughts flew between the characters the entire book. There was no change when there needed to be. Kestreal was completely static in this sequel. I love this story line but geez by the last third of the book the story was RUINED. I cannot even read the last 20 pages I am so frustrated with howthe author took this book. Will be forgetting these characters and not buying the next book because I do not believe the author will redirect and take this story in the direction it deserves.
lcsmalls More than 1 year ago
Anyone know when the third book is scheduled to come out?
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
I absolutely loved this book!!!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
The purchase of this nook book went through, and I read half of it yesterday, but for some reason now it will only let me open the sample version... What's the deal?
MissPrint More than 1 year ago
*The Winner's Crime is the second book in Rutkoski's Winner's Trilogy which begins with The Winner's Curse. As such this review contains major spoilers for book one!* "The winner knows her whole line of play. But Kestrel saw only one move, and maybe the next." Kestrel knew the cost would be high when she petitioned the Emperor of Valoria in an attempt to save Herrani lives. Months later outward appearances suggest that Kestrel has everything she could want. Her gambit to offer Herran independence as a colony only serves to better help Valoria while Kestrel's shrewd strategy brought her to the attention of the Emperor. Engaged to Valoria's crown prince, Kestrel is privy to countless parties and celebrations while all of Valoria admires the future Empress. To Kestrel, it feels like nothing so much as a well appointed cage. Kestrel longs to tell Arin the truth of her engagement. But with stakes higher on both sides, Kestrel is no longer certain she can trust Arin--if she ever could. Arin thought his problems would end when Herran won its independence and he became governor of the new color. But independence as a reality--as more than a word--is a difficult thing. Leading an entire people is harder still. Arin buries the hurt deep, wrapping it in distrust and doubt. But once Arin thought he knew the truth in Kestrel's heart. As he learns more about the machinations at work with Valoria, he wonders if he was ever truly wrong. Navigating the complex alliances and threats of the capital, Kestrel comes to know the ruthless nature of life at court as well as her own heart. But despite years of training and loyalty, Kestrel heart no longer belongs to Valoria. It may not even belong to herself as she sets herself on a treasonous path to save her both the country and the man that never should have captured her love. As lies multiple and deceptions wear thin, both Kestrel and Arin will have to face shocking truths as they answer for their deceptions and crimes. For both Kestrel and Arin, the greatest of their crimes may be not knowing their own hearts in The Winner's Crime (2015) by Marie Rutkoski. The Winner's Crime is the second book in Rutkoski's Winner's Trilogy which begins with The Winner's Curse. This story greatly expands the fraught world of intrigue and political machinations readers explored in the first novel as Kestril and Arin move through Valoria and lands unknown. The stakes have never been higher for either Kestrel or Arin. Although there is still abundant action, The Winner's Crime is an often introspective story as both protagonists try to make sense of their own hearts and motivations. After years of following her father and her empire without question, Kestrel begins to wonder if there might be more to honor that doing what is expected. Arin, meanwhile, stews in an untenable combination of responsibility to the Herrani and regret at having lost Kestrel. The Winner's Crime is a brutal, emotional read as both Kestrel and Arin deal with the ramifications of their unlikely association in Herran. Rutkoski's prose continues to dazzle with rich, elegant descriptions of the decadent world of the Emperor's palace. The shifting dual perspective between Arin and Kestrel is also used to excellent effect as this book once again highlights how much can be said between two people without uttering a word. The Winner's Crime is another stunning installment in a series that continues to impress. Possible Pairings: The Wicked and the Just by J. Anderson Coats, Revolution by Jennifer Donnelly, Seraphina by Rachel Hartman, Fire and Hemlock by Diana Wynne Jones, Grave Mercy by Robin LaFevers, A Wizard of Earth Sea by Ursula K. LeGuin, The Kiss of Deception by Mary E. Pearson, Across a Star-Swept Sea by Diana Peterfreund, Born Wicked by Jessica Spotswood, The Thief by Megan Whalen Turner *An advance copy of this book was acquired for review consideration from the publisher*
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Loved the second installment. It was no where cloae to as great as the first book in the romance department, but it was great getting to see the two main characters grow in their own ways and see that the outside world is crueler then they ever imagined.
BlkosinerBookBlog More than 1 year ago
    I wanted to read this one because I enjoyed Kestral in the first one. She is smart and after falling in love with Arin, a slave, she negotiated for his and his people's freedom but in return she was to marry the emperor's son, a marriage that she wasn't the most keen on. The emperor is a powerful and smart man, and he can sense her reluctance, but he also sees how smart she is, and how she can manage situations, balancing power, and the needs of both sides.     There was a nice, integrated part that helped me to catch up and remember the fuller story of the first book. Kestral is trying hard to balance her new world and giving solutions to the emperor that will save more people, but she still feels an incredible amount of guilt. She is keeping a secret how much she sacrificed for Arin, even though she is realizing the high cost.     Arin wants to believe the best in her, but the rumors that he keeps hearing and what he sees on the surface isn't keeping his confidence in her up. He tries to convince himself and when they find themselves together the chemistry is still undeniable.    The prince, Vextrel is also trying to figure out Kestral's angle, and the extent that he is being used. I ended up liking him more than I thought I would but he is just sitting back allowing so much, I still held a discontent for him.     Things kept building and the plot getting thicker. I enjoyed the book even though I wasn't expecting some of the plot twists. The ending wasn't a cliffie per say, it ended in a decent spot, but I do want to know what happens next and how Arin and Kestral will play the hands given.  Bottom Line: Enjoyed the second installment.
Topiangirl More than 1 year ago
Through daring escapes, devious plotting, and stolen kisses, Rutkoski bring a wonder sequel into The Winner’s Trilogy. The Winner’s Crime is a perfect addition, evolving from the first book in the trilogy, The Winner’s Curse, it continues the story effortlessly, without missing a beat. Much like in The Winner’s Curse, Rutkoski made the theme intertwine with plot conforming and molding it in to something a bit different but all together gives it that same easy flow as before. The whole book has a much darker atmosphere to it and the slow pace of the first book is nowhere to be seen. Here, it is action from page one and so many twist and turns that will keep you wanting to turn the pages. Fast. The romance is placed in the background to give room for intrigues and conspiracy. Kestrel now finds herself in a unique position, engaged to the Valorian crown prince. As the wedding approaches, she longs to let Arin know the truth about her engagement but only if… Becoming a skilled practitioner of deceit Kestrel soon becomes an anonymous spy passing information to the Herrani nation and coming close to uncovering a shocking secret she did not even know that existed. As Arin struggles to keep his country’s freedom enlisting dangerous allies, he can’t stop fighting the suspicion that Kestrel knows more that she claims to. In the end, it might not be a dagger that wounds him but yet the truth and how much it will cost him and Kestrel. Kestrel and Arin, our protagonists, are once again a delight as we expose their lives in this story. Kestrel is forever the complex heroine that she sometimes was in the first book but is more pronounced in this one. She still has that same air of intelligent, cunning, and quick-wittedness to her but throughout the book, she soon grows into a more of an awareness as she faces many more difficult decisions. In a world of backstabbing and conspiracy she can trust no one but herself and while faced with these, she proves to be both fierce and witty, as she’s plotting to outwit the power. Arin is still complex and secretive, though not with his feels toward Kestrel in his own mind. Arin know that Kestrel is keep back a lie and though he should be more worried about his people he finds that he must know what Kestrel is hiding. Arin is more investigating in this book while trying to continue his duty toward is people as their leader. Arin’s leadership take on a whole new qualities, he become much more determine to help his people even if it means going about it the wrong ways. As mentioned in the beginning The Winner’s Crime is a lot darker than the first book and much more of an emotional roller coaster. There are so much pain and guilt and sadness, caused by all the secrecy, lies and betrayals. Rutkoski really did break my heart with this one, over and over, but maybe that’s why I like it so much. For me, a book has to make you feel something. What that something is doesn’t really matter; it could be happiness, sadness or excitement. It just has to make you feel, and this book surely does that. Times a hundred. The Winner’s Crime is a strong sequel and I’d recommend it to everyone who’s read the first book. And if you haven’t read the first, I’d recommend you to do that and then pick up this thrilling, heart wrenching page-turner.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
R.I.P.  Kathy L. Who died from an overdose of feels and a broken heart. May she come back to life with The Winner's Kiss.