The Winner's Trilogy by Marie Rutkoski // Forbidden Romance, battles and Badass characters

     When your soul sister recommends a series to you, tells you you'll love it and then literally buys you the whole series, YOU READ IT. PERIOD.

     And then you do a happy dance because soul sister was 100X right and now the series is life and you sometimes in intense emotional situations start thinking "What would Kestrel do?" (and you do it) or "What would Arin do?" (.......and you do the opposite of it......sorry Arin. Boo you sweet but also like 90% stupid when it comes to emotions)

Okay so I'm going to try and make it a spoiler-free review and this is incredibly hard 'cause I'm reviewing the whole trilogy? Can I get pastries for my efforts?

     ↠ Books 2 and 3 were my favourite. I'm saying this right at the start because Book 1 has it issues and after reading it many people feel underwhelmed and don't continue with the series which is obviously the WRONG decision because trust me books 2 and 3 are SOOOO much better.

     ↠ It has the enemies to lovers trope and kind of forbidden romance which I didn't know I liked! And in book 1 I kind of didn't. But like I said, it gets SO MUCH BETTER. So stick with it!

“He didn’t smile. He cupped her face with both hands. An emotion tugged at his expression, a dark awe, the kind saved for a wild storm that rends the sky but doesn’t ravage your existence, doesn’t destroy every thing you love. The one that lets you feel saved.”

     ↠ Okay so this is a complex one. The book gets shelved as fantasy everywhere but it kind of isn't?? Like yes, it's set in a ficticious world but there's like no magic or anything. It's just a medieval kind of setting in a fictitious world but if you're going in expecting magic and fantastical elements, you could be disappointed. I think because it's an imaginary world and a group of people in the book pray to gods of a fictitious religion, the trilogy gets put under fantasy. But really, try not to go in expecting all the magic. You could be a teeny bit disappointed like our Wonder Woman was while buddy reading the books.

“You can't see both sides of one coin at once, can you, child? The god of money always keeps a secret. The god of money was also the god of spies.”

     ↠ Angst. Again I wasn't aware I enjoyed angst in books. It generally drives me crazy and it did drive me crazy here too but in a good way! Just so you know, Book 2 = angst everywhere. The secondhand angst was so real.

“Once, he'd hated her for it. Then it had somehow touched him. He knew it himself. he, too, felt how the heart chooses its own home and refuses reason.”

     ↠ Arin is basically that friend who has a good heart and means well but then does things that make you want to murder him. Throughout the trilogy I alternated between wanting to give him a hug and wanting to give him a hug...around his neck...with a piece of rope. Also sometimes he's so intense and dramatic, I adores him.

“Arin smiled. It was a true smile, which let her know that all the others he had given her were not.”

     ↠ Kestrel is one of my favourite female characters ever. Her story arc is so complex and so freaking well-written and I am in awe. She grows throughout the series and I felt like a proud mama hen everytime Kestrel learnt from her mistakes and grew up amazingly.

     Kestrel is a 'strong female character' but not in the way people usually interpret that phrase. Kestrel pretty much sucks at physical fighting. She can't hold the sword right, gets her toes stomped on and everything. BUT she's a freaking cunning strategist with brains Hermione would envy at times. She is a brilliant badass. AND I AM SO HERE FOR IT. We don't see characters like her often and that is kind of sad because me thinks all kinds of strengths need to be celebrated.

“The general's daughter? We'd be fools not to. You talk about her as if she's made of spun glass. Know what I see? Steel.”

     ↠ The brilliance of it all. Marie Rutkoski is a genius. The plot is freaking awesome and for once, I actually enjoyed politics. I still hate real life politics meh BUT the political intrigue and all that backstabbing and power grabbing in this trilogy is BRILLIANT. There were twists in that final book that I so did NOT see coming.

     The plot is freaking intense I forgot to breathe sometimes. The action scenes are SO intense but what I loved was there were also extremely intense scenes that were NOT fighting scenes. Like you know when that kid you hate in class is paired with you for a science project and there's this palpable tension around you two but not physically? (Wow look at how well I describe). Anyway, take that tension and multiply by infinity, that kind of intense scenes were my favourite.

“The emperor loved to shape silence into a tool that pried open the anxieties of others.”

     ↠ The writing is perfect. It's not extravagant or magical but it's so PERFECT and just magic⎯ wait. (Wow I'm constantly amazed by my ability to put things in words.) So verdict - Writing = Perfection. I approves.

“Kestrel thought that maybe she had been wrong, and Risha had been wrong, about forgiveness, that it was neither mud nor stone, but resembled more the drifting white spores. They came loose from the trees when they were ready. Soft to the touch, but made to be let go, so that they could find a place to plant and grow."

     ↠ Marie Rutkoski is not above putting her characters through a world of pain. She's just a smidgen below Kristoff in this aspect. This series had me tearing up more than a few times. Also screaming and staring with shocked eyes? Basically I was a bag of emotions and I liked it.

“As he spoke, it occurred to her that maybe he, too, felt like two people, that maybe everybody does, and that it's not a question of whether one's damaged, but of how easily or not that damage is seen.”

     ↠ Secondary characters done right. All those little characters who come and ago and we dismiss as 'secondary' characters were so freaking brilliant here. I love it when I can get emotionally attached to secondary characters 'cause it's only then the book feels whole to me.

So basically, I adore this trilogy and I feel it's so freaking underrated? Like it totally deserves more love! Now go read the trilogy and love it!!

Have you read this trilogy? Did you like it? Do you have a favourite trilogy? Tell me in the comments below!