(Website, Twitter, Goodreads)Also by this author: Poisoned Blade
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on August 18th 2015
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy & Magic, Young Adult
In this imaginative escape into enthralling new lands, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott's first young adult novel weaves an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege. Jessamy's life is a balance between acting like an upper-class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But away from her family she can be whoever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multilevel athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom's best contenders. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between two Fives competitors--one of mixed race and the other a Patron boy--causes heads to turn. When Kal's powerful, scheming uncle tears Jes's family apart, she'll have to test her new friend's loyalty and risk the vengeance of a royal clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.
I had been looking forward to Court of Fives from the moment I read the summary and I was so excited when I actually got my hands on a copy of it. Kate Elliott does a fantastic job of creating the world these characters live in as well as building out a story that makes you feel something for the main characters – good and bad.
Class and status play a fairly big role in this book and as we are introduced to the main character, Jessamy, it is clear she is in a tough position. She is continually balancing making her family happy as well as making sure she doesn’t cause her father any embarrassment alongside the one thing she loves, the Fives. The Fives are a competition that only the best athletes in the kingdom compete in but they do so masked so no one knows who is competing. The masks are the only reason why Jes is willing to risk participating in the next competition. Even though she knows she will have to lose, she wants to see if she can do it and win.
Jes’s family is in a precarious position as it is since her father is a Patron and her mother is a Commoner. As her father was continually promoted with the military, it was expected that he would put her mother to the side and marry a Patron woman. Since he has stayed true to Jes’s mother and they only have daughters to show for their relationship, certain people are watching their family and this is one of the things that makes Jes nervous about participating in the Fives.
I thought the characters were fairly well developed and I liked how the friendship started between Jes and Kalliarkos. I will admit, I couldn’t really figure out why the bad guy in this story was making it his life’s mission to destroy Jes’s family. I also thought that Jes’s father made some very questionable decisions…I don’t really care what position he was put in. There wasn’t much time spent with Jes’s sisters so outside of glimpses into their characters, I didn’t really feel connected to them. Of course, Jes and Kal are the main characters and I liked them both. I think Kal felt a little flat at times but I’m looking forward to hopefully getting more of him in book two.
Overall I thought this was a solid book one. There was action, danger, and definitely some interesting characters. I thought Elliot did a great job of not only building out the world but also pulling me into this time where gods are worshipped, magic is real, and there is danger around every corner. If you are looking for something a little different, consider checking this one out. I will definitely pick up book two when it comes out as I am curious to see what happens next. Elliott left me wanting more and that’s always a good sign with a series.
Thank you to the publisher for the review copy.