Review: Court of Fives by Kate Elliott

I received this book for free from BEA in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.

Review: Court of Fives by Kate ElliottCourt of Fives by Kate Elliott
Series: Court of Fives #1
on August 18, 2015
Genres: Adventure, Fantasy, Romance
Pages: 448
Format: ARC
Source: BEA
AmazonThe Book Depository
Goodreads
four-stars

In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott begins a new trilogy with her debut young adult novel, weaving 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 at night she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for The Fives, an intricate, multi-level athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom's best competitors. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between a girl of mixed race and a Patron boy causes heads to turn. When a scheming lord tears Jes's family apart, she'll have to test Kal's loyalty and risk the vengeance of a powerful clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.

Court of Fives is my second Kate Elliott series. I really enjoyed her adult fantasy trilogy, Spiritwalker. I hoped for something similar with good world building, vibrant characters, and a SHIP OF SHIPS. My expectations for Court of Fives were mega high basically, not because of the general hype but just because I was so excited for Elliott’s YA series. Court of Fives turned out to be completely fun and I would like more now.

Court of Fives got off to a clunky start. A bunch of characters are introduced all at once and I wasn’t sure how I felt about any of them. There’s also a lot of infodumping right at the start. For fifty pages or so, I wasn’t sure if I was going to be a big fan of the book, but then I sped through the rest of it like Jes through a Fives court. Basically as soon as Jes runs the Fives, things get really interesting fast.

The world has a bit in common with Game of Thrones, a fantasy landscape where intermarries Saro lords rule over various kingdoms, constantly warring for dominion. The novel takes place in Efea, a kingdom taken over by a Saro lord generations earlier. The Efeans have low status; they’re Commoners and not even allowed to marry Saroese Patrons.

Jessamy, the heroine, is one of four daughters born to a Commoner mother by a Patron father. She and her sisters are called mules by the racist assholes in Efea. Their situation is rare because their father actually takes care of them, even though his career is hampered by the fact that he’s not married and only has daughters, not to mention that he has one daughter with a club foot and twin girls (which is considered bad luck). Despite all of that, her father manged to rise to the rank of Captain in the army.

Jes risks her family’s fairly comfortable position by secretly running Fives. I can’t explain Fives properly but it’s a sport in Efea that involves a lot of strategy as well as physical skill. There are five different challenges, altered every time, that the competitors must complete. Though there’s a lot of sexism built into the society, Fives is open to men and women alike, which made for a nice change. Often, there are multiple ways to complete each challenge, meaning that one might be better for those who rely on strength and others who rely on speed and agility. Fives was actually a lot of fun to read about, though I know if I tried to play this game, it would look way more like MXC than a sport.

So far, the series isn’t hugely shippy. There are ships, and they have most excellent potential but things are only getting started. I will say that some girl kissing is canon, though not for the MC. Though I like all of the ships, I’m not committed enough that I would be super distressed if things shifted around a bit View Spoiler ». The second book in Spiritwalker was shippy beyond belief, so I just hope that’s coming in the next book in this series.

Court of Fives does a really nice job highlighting different forms of strength beyond just the obvious physical power. Intelligence, obviously, is important as well. In characters like Jes’ mother, who could easily be dismissed as a pushover, Elliott shows the strength of love and conviction. Kal is deemed soft by many around him but his kindness is a strength too. Each of the main characters has a special spark and strength, and I really love that others get a chance to shine in their own way, and it’s not just the Jes show.

After that intense ending, I need the sequel to Court of Fives oh NOW. Now would be really good.

Favorite Quote:

“I don’t want to be your son! I want to be your daughter who matters to you as much as a son would.”

Tl;dr – Review in a GIFfy:

 gif i don't want to be a lady got

One response to “Review: Court of Fives by Kate Elliott”

  1. This is probably my most anticipated August book, I’m glad it lived up to expectations! It sounds really awesome and I’ll be sure to push through those first 50 pages. Good to know! 🙂

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