Series Send Off: The Winner’s Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski

Check out past Series Send Off posts in which I finish the last book in a series & chat about it plus introduce new readers to the series with my general & non-spoilery thoughts about the series as a whole!

Winner's trilogy marie rutkoski


 Goodreads // Amazon


Upon finishing the series I say to all of you who haven’t started the series:


Get on it like yesterday. This series is so solid from start to finish though I can’t promise you will walk away with all your feels in tact. With dizzying political drama and an even more dizzying slow-burn romance, I definitely count The Winner’s Trilogy, and its memorable characters, among my favorites. Not to mention how AMAZING Marie’s prose is. Seriously the way she can cut you down to your knees with one line or build an incredible scene before you.



What The Series Is About:

The Winner’s Curse is set in completely fictional world where a people called the Valorians conquered the Herrani people who lived there before. They took over their land and turned them into slaves. Kestral, the daughter of a military general, lives a life of great wealth but her only two options as she becomes of age are to be married or enter the military — two things that aren’t exactly what she wants. As she and her friend Jess are out in the market one day she sees an auction taking place for a Herrani boy about her age who seems pretty defiant but Kestral impulsively decides to buy him as soon as the auctioneer says he can sing. As they begin to get to know each other more, Kestral begins to know her feelings for him aren’t something that society will be okay with. In those moments they share, she feels something that ignites her but she has no idea the secrets that lies behind Arin’s  eyes or, even more importantly, how the life she knows could all be flipped on its head.



Recommended For People Who Love:

YA fantasy, lots of perfectly unraveling political maneuvering and rebellion in their fantasy stories, a main character who is strategically badass and grows a lot through the course of the story, a romance between two unlikely people, the slow burn kind of romance



Thoughts On Each Book (Potential Spoilers Abound!)

(Skip below to the next section or read my review for book 1 if you haven’t read the series yet!)


The Winner’s Curse (read March 2014) — Upon finishing this first installment I needed a good strong drink to calm my frazzled nerves because of what happened politically and romantically. The slow build of the world/political structure and the relationship between Kestral and Arin hooked me immediately with its slow and deliberate way, like a smart and strategic game of chess. And then next thing you know all hell has broken loose and flipped on its head — and Kestral learns exactly the meaning of the winner’s curse. THAT ENDING THO. (my thoughts on Winner’s Curse)


The Winner’s Crime (read October 2014): Oh hey…needed a good strong drink again because welcome to FRAZZLED NERVESTOWN. And don’t even think you will find a weak book 2 here. NOT IN SIGHT. Honestly book 2 might have been EVEN BETTER (and more twisty) with Kestral playing spy in a new locale and show us even more of what a cunning force she is and Arin trying to keep his people safe and be a leader. It was honestly the most heart-wrenching of all the books for many reasons but namely 1) we watch poor Arin think these horrible things about Kestral because she’s trying to keep him safe and is spying to help his cause. Plus knowing Kestral’s side watching him suffer with her lies and WANTING to confide in him (ALL THE CRYING) 2) sad things 3) THE ENDING. (my thoughts on Winner’s Crime)

The Winner’s Kiss (read March 2016): *POTENTIAL SPOILERS IF YOU HAVEN’T READ* What a thoroughly satisfying conclusion! When I wrote about The Winner’s Crime I predicted for this book: “I don’t even KNOW what is going to happen in book 3. But I am imagining shattered hearts and broken dreams and my tears flowing like a river. But also good things?”  That was actually pretty accurate!! Watching what happens to Kestral after her father’s betrayal is horrible. Watching Arin put the pieces together is exciting but also sad when they reunite considering the state of Kestral’s mind. All their interactions slay me for most of the book.  Politically I loved that this book really reached that explosive climax it was steadily building up to — this war against the East and the West — one a brute force with all the advantage and another that may be the underdog but they bring together their new allies, cunning wits, a scrappy style and a will to keep their freedom. The ending made my heart happy and was positively worth waiting for. Side note: ALL THE LOVE FOR ROSHAR.




Rating Broken Down By Books

The Winner’s Curse


The Winner’s Crime

The Winner’s Kiss



And so I’m saying farewell to this series:

Farewell, Winner’s Trilogy!  You caused some mighty emotional turmoil and wounded me on many an occasion but always kept me yearning for more of  Kestral and Arin, more of this twisty political landscape and more of this journey to freedom in its many manifestations. I feel honored to have gone on this journey and watch these characters grow.


What did you think of the conclusion to this series if you’ve read it?? What did you think of the series overall?? If you haven’t read it, have I piqued your interest?

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About Jamie

Jamie is a 32 year old married lady (with a new baby!!) who is in denial that she's actually that old to be a married lady and a mom. When she's not reading you can find her doing Pilates followed by eating ice cream, belting out Hamilton (loud and offkey) and having adventures with her husband, daughter and rescue dog.


  1. Oh right, I completely forgot that I can go get the last book now. Well, time to die I guess. And with only two weeks until The Raven King…

    • Ahhh I feel like everyone is freaking out over The Raven King (for good reason) and I’m like ahhhh i have only read the first book and am afraid for this impending doom that is going to make everyone die. haha

      I promise this one won’t leave you unable to cope. HARD THINGS but good ending 🙂

  2. I actually just blew through this series in like two weeks time. I cannot believe it took me so long to pick up these books and I’m so glad I did. All of the political drama and romantic tension really hit home and I loved Marie’s writing. A new favorite, for sure!

    • Ah what a good binge read you had!! How did your feels cope???!? Although I’m jealous because with some of those endings I was like OMG GIMMMEEEEEEE the next book!

  3. Awesome post! The books sound awesome 🙂

    Nabila // Hot Town Cool Girl

  4. Ugh, this series was so amazing! I’m still in a reading hangover and I finished it almost 2 weeks ago! I was so worried for all my favs but the ending was nearly perfect! I have small grumblings about the whole Verex decision in the end just because I feel it can’t really end well. The book ended happy but ultimately the set up doesn’t seem promising to me. Sorry, I’m trying to be vague for spoilers and pretty sure I’m failing!


  5. I loved this series!! Winner’s Crime was my absolute favorite, which is so rare for me! I usually like second books least in a trilogy. But Rutkoski came on strong with Winner’s Crime. I actually was a little disappointed in some of her choices for Winner’s Kiss, but I enjoyed it overall. And I went to hear her and Kristin Cashore talk the other day, and she said that she’s tempted to do a book on Roshar’s story!! I was like YES PLEASE!!!

  6. Oh, Jamie! I loved the first 2 books but I had a hard time getting into the last. I can’t remember what happened now and I read it the day it came one!

    I really loved reading about Kestral and Arin’s slow burn romance… soo goood! And Kestral and her father’s relationship made me tear up…reminded me of my own father-daughter relationship!