We’re super excited to be a part of the tour for POISONED BLADE by Kate Elliott!
We have an amazing review and giveaway for you all, but first, a bit about the book!
Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliott
(Website, Twitter, Goodreads)Also by this author: Court of Fives
Published by Little, Brown Books for Young Readers on August 16th 2016
Genres: Action & Adventure, Epic, Fantasy, General, Girls & Women, Prejudice & Racism, Romance, Self-Esteem & Self-Reliance, Social Themes, Sports & Recreation, Survival Stories, Young Adult Fiction
Jessamy is moving up the ranks of the Fives—the complex athletic contest favored by the lowliest Commoners and the loftiest Patrons in her embattled kingdom. Pitted against far more formidable adversaries, success is Jes's only option, as her prize money is essential to keeping her hidden family alive. She leaps at the chance to tour the countryside and face more competitors, but then a fatal attack on Jes's traveling party puts her at the center of the war that Lord Kalliarkos—the prince she still loves—is fighting against their country's enemies. With a sinister overlord watching her every move and Kal's life on the line, Jes must now become more than a Fives champion...She must become a warrior.
Poisoned Blade is book two of the Court of Fives series by Kate Elliott and I admit, I was super excited when I got my hands on a copy of this at ALA this year. When I finished book one, I couldn’t wait to find out what was going to happen with Jes and Kal. If you haven’t read Court of Fives, you might want to hold on reading this review. While I will do my best not to spoil anything with Poisoned Blade, I can’t promise the same for the first book.
Poisoned Blade picks up immediately after the end of Court of Fives. If you recall, Jes won the race and now Kal is required to head to the war. In usual Jes fashion, the first thing she does after running the Fives is to sneak into the palace to find Kal and explain. The key to this is that there never was a good choice for Jes as she was being forced to choose between the boy she loves and her family that she loves. Of course, Kal makes some good points but I’m not sure I would have chosen any differently than Jes did and as someone who is royalty, he doesn’t necessarily understand where Jes is coming from. All of that said, I admit to being worried that this entire book would be without Kal…please know that this is not the case.
As the story moves forward, the Fives become Jes’ way of keeping her family safe. She knows that she has to stay at the top for crowd favor but she is up against some really skilled competitors she won’t always win against so she spends a lot of time working the crowd so she will stand out and gain their favor. Eventually, it is decided that Jes and some of her fellow competitors will join Gargaron for a tour of the countryside and this is when the action really begins to pick up.
While touring, their party is attacked and Jes becomes more than a Fives runner. She is able to take the skills she has from the Fives and use them not only to survive, but to fight to protect the people she cares about. Diving right into danger, Jes uses her brain to survive and eventually meets up with a larger force and while the politics and intrigue still continue, I loved that this part of the story involved more than just the Fives tournaments.
Jes’ priority is, and always will be, keeping her mother and family safe. The Fives allow her to send money to them but she has a very small network of people she can trust and Ro-emnu is one that she eventually puts a lot of trust in by asking him to protect her family. I found R to be an interesting character and I’m curious to see where Elliott goes with him in the next book.
I have to say here, from a character perspective, I thought Elliott did a wonderful job of not only continuing to build out Jes and show her growth, but she also showed the different sides of those supporting characters. Kal becomes more than just a prince running the Fives and Monoe was unexpected for me (sorry…not saying what happens).
As for Jes’ family, her relationship with her sisters is an interesting one and while they all seem to harbor some jealousy for each other, they still love each other. The difference I will call out here is that Bettany (Jes’ twin) carries a lot of bitterness and ultimately does something I would most likely hold against her for a while. Amaya is still a bit annoying but I found her to be more tolerable in this book as I began to understand her better. I’m not really sure how I feel about Jes’ father. Clearly he is right in the middle of something he has no control over but I’m pretty sure I would be giving him a much harder time than Jes is around the decisions he has made.
This book still drives home the differences in class and there are points of the story where Jes is still faced with people who disrespect her because of who her mother is. What I loved about it was it gave other characters the opportunity to jump in and show that not everyone thought the way certain individuals did and it gave me a bit of hope. The relationship between Jes and Kal definitely evolves and I thought it was done well. The new (and not so new) characters added to the story in a way that helped to move it forward.
If you are looking for a fantasy that includes a smart character, a bit of romance, political intrigue, and a lot of danger, definitely consider checking out this book. I do believe I liked this one a bit more than book one because of where things are with the story. I am definitely looking forward to the next book in this series and seeing where Elliott takes the characters and the rest of the story!
Thank you to the publisher for the review copy!
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3 winners will receive a finished copy of POISONED BLADE, US Only.