The Winners Kiss by Marie Rutkoski (The Winners Trilogy #3)
Publisher: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR)
Release Date: March 29, 2016
Summary: 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?
“No battle is won without a good gamble.”
An epic conclusion to an incredible trilogy!
First and foremost, what I love about this trilogy so much is Kestrel as a character.
She is powerful not in a sense of her strength as a fighter, but through her mind and development of strategy.
This final installment, as with the past 2 novels, is presented with an exquisite writing style!
Each and every sentence carries so much weight and meaning to overall story and is delivered in such an elegant manner.
There is immense character development in this novel and can be seen through the actions each character takes. With the 3rd person POV, we see just how important perception/strategy is and how its weaved into to the main characters personality.
In addition, politics/strategy plays a huge role and weaves in perfectly with the plot.
At the start of the book, Kestrel is sent to a prison camp and she reflects on all that has happened (from what happened w/ Arin, her father, etc.). Feeling guilty she does what she can to erase those past memories.
Arin is now plays an important role in the battle between the Valorians & Herrani, while still holding onto his moments w/ Kestrel.
An aspect to plot which I really loved, was the dynamic between Arin & his god of death (which later is reveled to be himself)
As the plot continues they reunite, but Kestrel has lost important memories and Arin no longer sees her as who she once was.
While forgetting some memories, she recovers but throughout this novel there is definitely growth to Kestrel. In addition to her incredible logic, she also develops her strength through combat.
Kestrel and Arin’s relationship while important, did not remain the focus and development for their relationship was definitely there when necessary.
In terms of world-building it is definitely there, with the descriptions during battle/strategy planning. And through the characters reflecting on past events.
*This novel also has a slower pace in my opinion than the previous two, but does not make the story drag*
While reading, what I also loved about this book was the character dynamics/interactions. From conversation to battles, the writing style really sets this final book up as a strategy game with the characters each playing their part.
Overall each element from plot to politics weaved together perfectly to deliver an action-packed and stunning conclusion to The Winners Trilogy ❤ ❤