COURT OF FIVES
By Kate Elliott
THE HUNGER GAMES GOES ROMAN. I really enjoyed this one! Kate Elliott is a seasoned author who knows how to create suspense and keeps the pages clipping along. Plus, I am always up for a book the centers around an obstacle course.
The story feels fairly simply: Jessamy lives a conflicted life in Efea. Her military father is one of the conquering Saroese who married a commoner Efean, so she is mixed. While she is more privileged than the full-blooded Efeans, she will never be accepted in the upper class Saroese. Her sisters feel the brunt of belonging nowhere, as this hurts pretty Amaya’s marriage prospects or sensible Maraya’s chance of becoming a scribe. However, all Jessamy wants is to run the Fives, a obstacle course reminiscent of Ninja Warrior, where she must surpass Trees, Traps, Rivers, and Rings to win. A nasty high court lord wants her for her talents and her father for his military prowess, and thus plots to destroy the rest of her family so she and her father will serve his will.
Elliott’s method of world-building was very subtle. She doesn’t info-dump; she drops tidbits here and there when it is relevant to the plot to alert the reader that there is a very raw and painful war here brimming between the colonialist Saroese and the native Efeans. I thought it was well-done, since mixed, privileged Jessamy was born a while after Efea has been colonized. While she lives with the stigma of Efean heritage, she doesn’t fully understand the anger of the low-class who are aware of many things she isn’t, like how her beloved Fives game widely believed to be Saroese is actually taken from the Efean culture and beliefs.
Elliott does set up a love triangle toward the end of Court of Fives. She also takes an interesting approach with Kalliarkos, Jessamy’s original love interest, who is much more passive and a pawn of the courts rather than a bad-ass. However, it was something different than I usually see in YA, and I liked Jessamy’s choice at the end. I’m very excited to see what will unfold next in Poisoned Blade.
Recommended for fans of: Suzanne Collins, Richelle Mead, James Dashner
Upcoming Book Review: Tiger Lily by Jodi Lynn Anderson