7 August 2015

Review #291: Court of Fives (Court of Fives #1) by Kate Elliott

My rating:
4 of 5 stars

“I am no bird; and no net ensnares me: I am a free human being with an independent will.”

---- Charlotte Brontë

Kate Elliott, an award-winning American YA author, pens her new book, Court of Fives which is the first book in the Court of Fives trilogy, that tells the story of a young teenager, belonging from two different caste that divides her own world, is trying to find herself as well as trying to find her way through all those indifference set by the ruler of her world, by participating in a highly challenging competition, Fives.


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.

Jessamy and her three sisters (one with a club foot and the other two are twins) live in a world called, Efea, dominated by the Saro Lord, thus decrementing the ranks of the efeans to a low status called, The Commoners, where as the high status consists of people with Saroese blood called Patrons. Jessamy has a Patron father, a Captain in the Army, and a Commoner mother, who couldn't get married because in Efea, inter-caste marriages are prohibited. Still Jes's father stayed and took care of his daughters since he loved her mother a lot.

Now Jes and her family is abiding by the Patrons' aristocratic ways of living, but Jes, with her Commoner blood and especially, when the people call her and her sister as "mules" (similar to "mudblood"), is pinning for the freedom and is secretly planning to take part in the training for the Fives competition, which is highly challenging as well as edgy game, that not only requires physical skills and strength but also requires a high aptitude and this is where she meets Lord Kalliarkos, a Patron and another competitor. Jess is clearly not the perfect fit for this competition, yet she takes part, thus putting her whole family into risk by jeopardizing the security of her family.

The world building is vividly done with intricate descriptions and proper logic to make the fantasy world look convincing enough. I believe, the world building is the strongest aspect of this book, and the author doesn't leave out any secrets or mysteries related to this fantasy world to be revealed in the sequels, she did it all in this book and thus making the readers grasp this world properly.

The writing style is fantastic with an engaging narrative style. The plot is woven beautifully with lots of actions and drama to keep the readers on their edges, especially when the game of Fives is introduced, the pacing of the book changes from being steady to being very fast.

The characters are all very well developed and are highlighted and layered with their flaws and stronger aspects and all also kept closer to reality. The protagonist, Jessamy, is brave and moves accordingly with the challenges thrown on to her path, and unlike her age, Jess shows a lot of maturity in her, especially when it comes to addressing her privileges of being a Patron and helping protect her family. Kalliarkos, another Patron and fellow competitor of Jess, is a nice and kind guy unlike other Patrons but unfortunately there's not much that will make the readers contemplate with this character, maybe in the sequels we get to know this guy.

There is very little or no chemistry at all in this book, so there's no point in talking about it. The relationship between Jess and her family is brilliantly portrayed and has a way to make the readers feel deeply. Jes's family is the one who stands undivided and united against the tide (prejudices and social stigma) with love and support, yet poses a great threat to the society where the Soro Lord is threatening to tear the family apart, since they were moving away from the tide. I wished the three sisters of Jes had a bit more depth in their characterization.

The book has a complex plot and though it opens very slow with lots of details about the world, the author has created a great fantasy world that not only intrigues the readers but also provokes the minds of the readers. And since the book ends with a cliffhanger, I'm definitely looking forward in reading the next book of this trilogy.

Verdict: A captivating as well as exciting series opener, that is highly recommended for all YA fantasy lovers.

Courtesy: Thanks to the publishers for giving me an opportunity to read and review this book. 

Author Info:
As a child in rural Oregon, Kate Elliott made up stories because she longed to escape to a world of lurid adventure fiction. She now writes fantasy, steampunk, and science fiction, often with a romantic edge. It should therefore come as no surprise that she met her future husband in a sword fight.

When he gave up police work to study archaeology, they and their three children fell into an entirely new set of adventures in dusty Mexican ruins and mouthwatering European pastry shops. Eventually her spouse’s work forced them to move to Hawaii, where she took up outrigger canoe paddling.

Also, there is a schnauzer.

Visit her here

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  1. This book sounds like it's right up my alley! I can't believe this is the first time I hear of it. Throne of Glass and Legend immediately popped into my mind when I heard your explanation. I just might check it out :) Great review!

  2. Great review! I have been seeing this book around, but this is the first review I have actually read about it. It sounds really good and like something I would like.
    ~Chioma @ Blue Books and Butterflies


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