Rating: 4 stars
Series: The Winner’s Trilogy #2
I liked this book so much better than The Winner’s Curse. Kestrel and Arin are still the main characters, but they spent most of their time apart since they were on opposite sides of the war. Kestrel was stuck in the palace after the deal she struck with the emperor at the end of the last book. Arin was grappling with his new position in the empire. He struggled to help his people since although they weren’t being killed by Valorians they were still controlled by them.
I loved learning more about the cultures and politics. This was no Game of Thrones by any means, but it was entertaining. Some things were predictable, but I enjoyed it nonetheless. The plot was much better this time around since it focused more on politics and treachery than romance although romance was an important part of it.
Kestrel and Arin both had hard choices to make. They wanted to do what was best for each other while trying to make the empire a better place for the people in it. Colluding to reach the same goal wasn’t possible since it put them both in danger. Kestrel had to feign indifference where Arin was concerned. If he knew where her true loyalities lie, everything she had worked for would have fallen apart.
I thought this was going to have a love triangle since Kestrel was in love with one guy while engaged to another. It didn’t have that vibe at all. The engagement was nothing more than a political arrangement. Kestrel’s feelings for Arin were strong. I didn’t necessarily agree with the way she handled things with him, but I understand why she did it. Her heart was in the right place. Arin’s feelings for her were conflicted since he couldn’t determine if she was being honest or not.
Kestrel didn’t always make the best decisions. She didn’t have enough political experience to excel at subterfuge. I admired her for doing what she believed was right even when the costs were high. Kestrel is one of the most selfless character ever, but almost no one understood her. My heart broke for her at the end of this book. After what happened, I desperately want the next one.