So, recently, my cat son Tybalt has become very excited about a particular book. Not one of mine, of course, they’re his mother’s books, and he thinks those are lame, except when I put him in them. No, the book he won’t shut up about is THE WINNER’S CURSE by Marie Rutkoski.
I’m sure you’ve all heard of this intriguing trilogy, the story of Kestrel, the daughter of a high-ranking General in the Valorian Army, and Arin, the Herrani slave she purchases at auction. If you haven’t heard of it, you should, and you obviously don’t live with my cat son, because I hear about it daily, no matter how many times I say, “yes, Tybalt, I read it, too, and I loved it.” He keeps on, and on, and it’s worse now that the sequel, THE WINNER’S CRIME, is almost out (MARCH 3rd! He yowls daily. MARCH 3rd!)
Just look at his The Winner’s Curse-loving face:
That’s his face when he REALLY likes something. Conversely,
This is his face when he thinks something is only….okay.
Anyway, he (we) wanted to commandeer the blog today to lay out some of his (our) favorite things about the book that’s way better than his mother’s books. (Very nice, son.)
1. Kestrel. She’s remarkable. Complicated and with real convictions, and we loved her relationship with her horse, Javelin. No, Tybalt, you may not have a horse named Javelin. One thing we particularly liked about Kestrel, this girl who faces a hard life choice (to join the army, as her father wants, or to marry, the only two choices for a girl of her rank) is her strategic mind. She knows her faults, and her strengths, and she knows everyone else’s too. She has blind spots because of her position in society, and because of a certain boy, (who, yes, Tybalt, we’ll get to in a minute) and it felt very real. A good heart gives you blind spots, no matter how clever you are. It’s a virtue, and a vulnerability. And Kestrel has a very good heart.
2. Arin. So much more to Arin than meets the eye. Once you come to know his story, his history, the discipline he shows throughout the book is nothing short of AMAZING. Tybalt wanted me to type “amazing” and that’s a pretty accurate word for Arin. He also requests that I change his name to Arin, and that all future male characters I write be named Arin. To which I say, No, dammit! Arin is copyrighted, and Marie Rutkoski probably wouldn’t appreciate it.
3. The military strategy and the conqueror culture. I was more into this part than Tybalt was, but he was still quite fascinated by the expansive culture of the Valorians, which led to many discussions of Alexander the Great, the Romans, and a re-watch of Spartacus: Gods of the Arena.
4. The You-Guys-Are-So-Screwed Factor. Because no matter how much you want Kestrel and Arin to hug it out, those hugs don’t come easy. From the outset, they are separated by their motives and their place in the world. Kestrel is a master. Arin a slave. Kestrel is a conqueror Valorian, who must marry a Valorian, or go away to war. Arin is a Herrani, the conquered, the subjugated, and an entirely unfit match as friend or lover. By the end, Tybalt was rolling about on the carpet, because he couldn’t see how their stars could align (and also because he had an itch and needed a nap from staying up so long reading), and I was, too (though I had no similar excuses).
To summarize, on March 3rd, he and I will be poring over our new copy of THE WINNER’S CRIME! Ouch, he bit me. He has no teeth, but it still smarts. Apparently he gets a copy of his own.
You should snag one too, wherever books are sold.