by Marie Rutkoski
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War has begun. Arin is in the thick of it with untrustworthy new allies and the empire as his enemy. Though he has convinced himself that he no longer loves Kestrel, Arin hasn’t forgotten her, or how she became exactly the kind of person he has always despised. She cared more for the empire than she did for the lives of innocent people—and certainly more than she did for him.
At least, that’s what he thinks.
In the frozen north, Kestrel is a prisoner in a brutal work camp. As she searches desperately for a way to escape, she wishes Arin could know what she sacrificed for him. She wishes she could make the empire pay for what they’ve done to her.
But no one gets what they want just by wishing.
As the war intensifies, both Kestrel and Arin discover that the world is changing. The East is pitted against the West, and they are caught in between. With so much to lose, can anybody really win?
Unpopular opinion time. I just don’t care.
So, this probably comes as a shock to a lot of people. Me, Chelsea, rating a book within one of her FAVORITE series of all time anything below a four. Well, that, and everyone and their cousin thinks this is the best book in the trilogy.
While this story had it all, everything that I could EVER want and everything that I DO want: Action, peril, war, angsty romance. I mean, in a nutshell? This book was perfect….
But it wasn’t perfect for me.
Call me whiney. Call me selfish. Call me flakey, inconsistent, or the black sheep. But what everyone hated about the first two-Kestrel and Arin’s forbidden romance slowly blossoming around war and deceit and destruction and betrayal-I shipped. That’s why I even fell in love with this series, Goddamn it! The romance! DUH!
“Yes,” Arin said, “but even so, the risk for you is still different-“
“Stop saying that.”
“It is.” His face was unhappy. “There is a difference between you and me. If I die, you’ll survive. If you die, it will destroy me.”
And my thing is this: If a series is about war, and romance is in the background at all times, then it’s like this glorious…THING when it comes to fruition. It’s a bonus, it’s a plus, it’s like everything is right in the world. Peril is the forefront and the love comes after (Seven Realms, Chaos Walking Trilogy, etc. etc.)-this is something I understand and ADORE. But when book one and two had a somewhat consistent theme (one being the best, to me)-Kestrel and Arin falling in love-then book three is about 80% war…I can’t help but say it didn’t fit, for me, and I was disappointed-and bored. I hate having to say all this and my heart is broken.
*shrugs* But it is what it is.
“It’s not enough,” he said. It took her a moment to realize he was continuing his refusal and not responding to her thoughts, which were so loud in her head that she felt as if she’d shouted them.
She said, “What would be enough?”
Color mounted in his face.
“You can tell me,” she said.
“Ah,” he said. “Well. Me.”
“I don’t understand.”
“I want…you to want me.”
This was beautiful-I had TONS of feels. It took a direction I didn’t expect and I respect it…even loved it. But the war surrounding it took what I loved away from me and I guess it’s just not what I wanted. I won’t apologize for being a hopeless romantic who thrives for more. I am sad this one isn’t a favorite, but I’m really not surprised-book three in a trilogy is almost ALWAYS my least favorite, I just hoped that wouldn’t be the case for this. BUT-this series will always hold a piece of my soul and I will continually go back and re-read about my book boyfriend, Arin.
Favorites in order:
Oh, and also, why do so many fucking horses have to die??? I mean…come on. Ugh.