Court of Fives (Court of Fives #1)
By Kate Elliot
Summary: On the Fives court, everyone is equal. And everyone is dangerous.
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 whomever 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 competitors.
Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an improbable friendship between the 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.
In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, 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.
Source: I purchased a paperback
I picked this book up on a whim at the bookstore without even looking it up on Goodreads first. I was in a slump and wanted a YA fantasy that would be enjoyable without much hype. I’m glad I knew nothing about it and went into it with no expectations because it was fun to read and pretty good.
The story was interesting. Jessamy was the daughter of a Patron and a Commoner. Her father was a general in the military and was trying to move his way up, which was difficult to do with a Commoner women you can’t marry and mixed race children, especially when all of his children were daughters. Still, he loved his “wife” and children and refused to leave them or marry a Patron to gain respect. Jessamy was much like her father in that she was cunning and ruthless. Behind everyone’s back, she trained and participated in the Fives, which was an arena sport. She never wanted to win because winners take their masks off and it would embarrass her father, but she could have won.
Jessamy and her father gained the attention of a powerful Lord who was used to getting whatever he wanted and suddenly Jessamy found her father torn away from her family and found herself in the Lord’s elite training grounds. Did her father trade his family for ambition, or was something more sinister happening?
I enjoyed the plot and I liked the characters. All of Jessamy’s family members had distinct personalities and the world they lived in was full of class issues and scandals. Growing up, her and her sisters were taught to be proper Patron children, despite the obvious physical differences between her and Patron children. There was so much about her own kingdom that she didn’t know and she found herself in the middle of a tangled web.
I could see the various cultures that inspired the story and I loved how the author took a bunch of elements from cultures we are all familiar with and put them into a truly unique world. I liked Jessamy’s drive to succeed and ability to sort out complex puzzles. I liked that, despite being in a growing relationship with a Prince, it wasn’t the kind of story where she was immediately blinded by an attractive guy. They seemed to respect each other in the Fives and that respect sort of grew until she realized, despite his faults, she could trust him.
I will likely pick up the rest of the series and I definitely recommend the book if you’re looking for a less well known YA fantasy. It shares a lot of common themes and elements from the popular books, but sometimes it’s just so refreshing to pick up a book you don’t know anything about. I had 0 expectations and I loved not knowing where the story would go.