About This Book:
Title: Court of Fives
Author: Kate Elliott
Publisher: Little, Brown
Pub. Date: August 18th 2015
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.
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*review copy received in exchange for an honest review. This doesn’t affect my opinion or review*
I had such high hopes for Court of Fives and while it wasn’t a terrible read, it did not live up to my expectations either. There is a lot to love about Court of Fives, like the fascinating world and political intrigue, but there were also quite a few disappointing elements.
Jessamy has grown up in a complicated household. Her mother is a Commoner, who are treated as worthless after their country was invaded long ago. Her father, a Patron (from the nation that took over the Commoner’s country), is high up in the army. He may become even more important, if only he will forget his Commoner wife and lack of sons, and marry a Patron woman. Jessamy is told that she must act like a proper Patron lady, but she secretly aspires to run the Fives, an athletic competition.
I really liked Jessamy’s family, and how important family was to her. There are so few YA books in which family plays a big role, so I’m glad that Court Of Fives made it a prominent part of the plot. Jessamy’s family isn’t perfect and some of them made big mistakes, but I loved Jessamy’s devotion to her sisters. It reminded me a bit of Little Women, which was nice.
I admired Jessamy’s ambitions, but I didn’t find her to be a very interesting character. Her desire to run the Fives felt like her only important character attribute, and she didn’t feel very developed otherwise. There was a lot of potential for her to grow and become a fierce and strong heroine, but I don’t think that really happened. This was a big problem for me, since it meant that I just couldn’t enjoy the story as much as I could have.
Jessamy befriends Kalliarkos, a young lord, despite their difference in status. I was confused about the transition from friendship to romance, because it felt like one minute she was like “Oh, we’re such good friends,” and the next they were hopelessly in love and willing to risk everything for each other. I did like their relationship well enough by the end, but the start of it felt forced and awkward.
If anything, though, Court of Fives has very vivid world building. Long ago, Efea was taken over by another country, the “Patrons.” The people of Efea, the “Commoners,” are never given important jobs, and are abused by the higher classes. The author’s vivid writing brings this world to life. The descriptions were beautiful, and it was very easy to imagine what life was like for these people.
The one thing that bothered me was the sexism of this culture. Women are continually disrespected, which frustrated me to no end. I understand that this was realistic for the time period that Court Of Fives is set in, but it still bothered me. I had been hoping for Jessamy to overcome this at some point and tell everyone how wrong they were, but she just accepted it and tried to avoid the sexist culture as much as possible.
I had been hoping that Court of Fives would be amazing, but it didn’t turn out that way. I was disappointed in many elements of this book and while there were a few that I did enjoy, it ultimately wasn’t for me. That said, there are many wonderful reviews on Goodreads, so I am the black sheep for this book. If it sounds interesting to you, then you may enjoy it a lot more than me.