- Release Date: March 4th 2014
- Genre: Historical/ AU
- Pages: 355
- Publisher: Farrar Strauss & Giroux
Synopsis : As a general’s daughter in a vast empire that revels in war and enslaves those it conquers, seventeen-year-old Kestrel has two choices: she can join the military or get married. But Kestrel has other intentions. One day, she is startled to find a kindred spirit in a young slave up for auction. Arin’s eyes seem to defy everything and everyone. Following her instinct, Kestrel buys him—with unexpected consequences. It’s not long before she has to hide her growing love for Arin. But he, too, has a secret, and Kestrel quickly learns that the price she paid for a fellow human is much higher than she ever could have imagined.
For 10 years the Valorians have ruled the Herrani, a race of people enslaved in their own land. At a slave auction Kestrel, a member of the Valorian upper class, wins the Herrani of her choice and in that moment of winning she will also lose everything and she doesn’t even know it.
The story follows Krestel as she makes her way through high society and how it often clashes with her candor and affinity for music and art. She is also at war with her growing feelings for Arin the Herrani slave and the truth he is making her see.
Honestly, I think Krestel had a bit too much going on conflict wise. She’s at a crossroads she can either get married or become a solider but wants to do neither, she likes music but that is not thought highly of by her people. She struggles with what how to treat Arin in addition to feuds with fellow Valorians. I think I would have preferred to focus on one of these conflicts.
The big winner in this book has to be the forbidden romance that forms between Kestrel and Arin , overall that was what kept me reading during the somewhat slow build in the novel. I don’t want to give to much away about Arin, but his character development in the book was one I enjoyed reading. I wish that the novel focused more on him.
I wanted a little bit more action in the novel. It starts to pick up in the later half of the book which I left me racing to finish. The glimpses of political intrigue and the daunting rules of society reminded me of Robin LaFevers’ Grave Mercy, but without the ability to really root the story with any historical context I kept feeling lost. When it comes to novels set in alternate worlds or low fantasy I just can’t feel invested in the story if I don’t know the world
In the back of the book Rutkoski does say the world is based on the Greco-Romans but I kept getting 18th century vibes due to the balls and civility ( and because of the cover) so that kind of threw me off.
This novel fell into a void that wasn’t quite the romance or historically-set saga I was expecting. The story was interesting enough, but I just couldn’t get a good grasp on Kestrel to really care towards the end.
This was the BIG book of 2014 and after reading Cuddlebuggery’s reviewI was ready to love this as well, but it just fell flat. Steph reviewed the audio, so I may try listening to it if I decide to read the next one.