Wednesday, August 19, 2015

Book Review: Court of Fives by Kate Elliott

Court of Fives by Kate Elliott book cover and review
While Court of Fives has some similarities to other fantasy novels, the differences serve to make it stand out.

Jessamy's life is complicated. Her father is married to a commoner, which makes her status in this complicated society very shaky. Her father has risen through the ranks of the military and has just won an important battle. There is a celebration and Jessamy and her mother and sisters get to attend a ceremony at the palace.

Jess is secretly training for The Fives, a competition requiring strength, endurance, and cunning. Her father must not know, even when she competes at the very ceremony that her family is attending. She can't win, because she would have to remove her mask thus revealing herself to her father, so at the end of the competition she allows someone else to win.

That someone is Kalliarkos, a prince. And Kal knows it and he calls Jess on it.

Everything falls apart when Jess's father's benefactor dies. Their family now has no hope of supporting themselves. Kal's uncle gives Jess's father an offer he can't refuse. He must fight as a general, abandon his family, and marry Kal's sister. Kal's uncle wants Jess to train for The Fives in his court. With Kal. She, like her father, has no choice.

Jess is desperate to find out what has happened to her family. Her mother is pregnant, and Jess is very worried. She and Kal begin a relationship which inevitably turns romantic, even though forbidden. Kal ends up being instrumental in helping Jess help her family.

I don't want to say too much more about the plot. While I found it a bit slow in parts, the tension mounts nicely at the end. The society is complicated. There are bizarre religious traditions.There's a lot of political maneuvering that is explained, especially at the end, which was a bit confusing. But I'm not sure it was necessary to follow all of it perfectly. It involves lots of characters and inbreeding that makes all the royalty related to each other and vying for positions.

The main characters were lovable and I really wanted to see their success. I really liked that not much of the main story line is life threatening. The Fives is simply a game for the enjoyment of the participants and spectators. And to win money. It isn't a fight to the death, as is seen too often in recent books. This was a refreshing change. Yes, lives are threatened later on in other parts of the book, but not the typical "wicked government trying to kill young people" trope. The ending is a bit of a cliff hanger -- this part of the story is resolved but there's obviously more to tell.

I'll recommend Court of Fives to my fantasy fans. I enjoyed it very much and look forward to the sequel.

Published by Little, Brown BFYR, August 18, 2015
eARC obtained from Edelweiss
448 pages

Rating: 4/5

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  1. I had a funny little student a few years ago who would only read Kate Elliott books and then would start over and reread her books. I wish I could tell her about this new one by her favorite author. I've lost touch with her since graduation. It sounds good and I will likely get it for my library.

  2. I enjoyed this one as well, as you know. I'm looking forward to the sequel. Nice review.

  3. Glad you enjoyed this one. I've seen mixed reviews for it. I will also order it for my library especially those kids who like "Game of Thrones" but also for those who like the type of book but aren't necessary ready for the adult material. I'm looking forward to picking this one up!


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