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Marie Rutkoski

The Winner's Curse

Marie Rutkoski The Winner's Curse
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Series:

The Winner's Trilogy

Biographical note:

Marie Rutkoski is the author of The Shadow Society and the Kronos Chronicles, which includes The Cabinet of Wonders. She is a professor at Brooklyn College and lives in New York City.

Biographical note:

Marie Rutkoski is the author of The Shadow Society and the Kronos Chronicles, which includes The Cabinet of Wonders. She is a professor at Brooklyn College and lives in New York City.

Excerpt from book:

1
 
 
She shouldn’t have been tempted.
This is what Kestrel thought as she swept the sailors’ silver off the impromptu gaming table set up in a corner of the market.
“Don’t go,” said one sailor.
“Stay,” said another, but Kestrel cinched her wrist-strap velvet purse shut. The sun had lowered, and caramelized the color of things, which meant that she had played cards long enough to be noticed by someone who mattered.
Someone who would tell her father.
Cards wasn’t even her favorite game. The silver wouldn’t begin to pay for her silk dress, snagged from the splintery crate she had used as a stool. But sailors were much better adversaries than the average aristocrat. They flipped cards with feral tricks, swore when they lost, swore when they won, would gouge the last silver keystone coin out of a friend. And they cheated. Kestrel especially liked it when they cheated. It made beating them not quite so easy.
She smiled and left them. Then her smile faded. This hour of thrilling risk was going to cost her. It wasn’t the gambling that would infuriate her father, or the company she had kept. No, General Trajan was going to want to know why his daughter was in the city market alone.
Other people wondered, too. She saw it in their eyes as she threaded through market stalls offering open sacks of spice, the scents mingling with salty air that wafted from the nearby port. Kestrel guessed the words people didn’t dare whisper as she passed. Of course they didn’t speak. They knew who she was. And she knew what they would say.
Where was Lady Kestrel’s escort?
And if she had no friend or family available to escort her to the market, where was her slave?
Well, as for a slave, they had been left at her villa. Kestrel did not need them.
As for the whereabouts of her escort, she was wondering the same thing.
Jess had wandered off to look at the wares. Kestrel last saw her weaving like a flower-drunk bee through the stalls, her pale blond hair almost white in the summer sun. Technically, Jess could get in as much trouble as Kestrel. It wasn’t allowed for a young Valorian girl who wasn’t a member of the military to walk alone. But Jess’s parents doted on her, and they hardly had the same notion of discipline as the highest-ranking general in the Valorian army.
Kestrel scanned the stalls for her friend, and finally caught the gleam of blond braids styled in the latest fashion. Jess was talking to a jewelry seller who dangled a pair of earrings. The translucent gold droplets caught the light.
Kestrel drew closer.
“Topaz,” the elderly woman was saying to Jess. “To brighten your lovely brown eyes. Only ten keystones.”
There was a hard set to the jewelry seller’s mouth. Kestrel met the woman’s gray eyes and noticed that her wrinkled skin was browned from years of working outdoors. She was Herrani, but a brand on her wrist proved that she was free. Kestrel wondered how she had earned that freedom. Slaves freed by their masters were rare.
Jess glanced up. “Oh, Kestrel,” she breathed. “Aren’t these earrings perfect?”
Maybe if the weight of silver in Kestrel’s purse hadn’t dragged at her wrist Every line in The Winner's Curse is beautifully written. The story is masterfully plotted. The characters' dilemmas fascinated me and tore at my heart. This book gave me a rare and special reading experience: I never knew what was going to happen next. I loved it. I want more.


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