Winning what you want may cost you everything you love…
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.
This. Book. I was told it was good, but I try never to believe the hype too much. In this case, though, the hype was right. This book is amazing!
The thing I really loved was that the character’s were flawed. Not just a little imperfect, like terribly flawed. Kestrel is the daughter of a general, and being the daughter of someone who has taken over different territories, she’s grown up pretty racist towards the Herrani. She doesn’t really see a problem with using them all as slaves, because she knows that the Valorian’s were the better people and won them in battle. She gets angry when they step out of line, and she knows that loving Arin would be the worst thing ever, although you could put that blame on her father. It’s a really fresh take of the usual slave story we get, where everyone is racist except for our perfect protagonist. And it made her story so much more interesting. Arin is in the same situation, although with a little more reason. He’s ready to fight back, and he has no qualms in telling everyone Kestrel’s secrets. You think you know how this story is going to go, but there’s no 360 of Arin’s personality as he learns to love the people who have kept his people captive for so long. He wants to fight for the Herrani, and dammit he will!
Part of this is to do with the society they’re part of. Like I said, the Herrani are spoils of war, and that really isn’t a problem to any of the Valorian. There are little rules that piece together to get yo really immersed in the world, like the fact that you either have to join the military or get married and start producing soldier babies by a certain age. Yes, this is an actual law! It’s not a huge thing in this book, it’s just something that’s floating around that helps you work out exactly what kind of people the Valorian are. The world building is spectacular!
The plot has the perfect mixture of love and action. Arin and Kestrel were obviously going to fall in love from page one, and their opposite cultures makes them the best kind of star crossed lovers. If that’s not your thing, though, don’t worry! There’s enough drama going on to keep your mind off it. The love causes a stir among the rest of society, and that gives Kestrel a lot of stuff to deal with. Then there’s Arin and the massive secret he’s keeping, which we’re privy to a lot sooner than Kestrel is. There’s the looming threat of more war, especially with her father being the general. I honestly couldn’t put the book down in the last bit, because there was so much going on!
In case you couldn’t tell, I really recommend this book. It’s absolutely amazing! And, shockingly, worth five stars for me.