Wednesday, March 2, 2016

Court of fives by Kate Elliott

Jessamy lives between two worlds - the world of her Patron father where they have money and share the benefits of his status as a war hero, and the world of her Commoner mother where the people are treated with disdain by the ruling Patron class.  Her world is a precarious one because it is unlawful for a Patron to marry a Commoner, so to many people Jessamy's mother is a concubine with an unusually devoted Patron man, and Jessamy and her sisters are "mules" - mixed breed children who had the added poor taste to be born female in a world where males are preferred.  Jes and her sisters are a blend of both cultures, some take after their father in looks while others look more like their mother, but they are all protected and raised in the same manner as well bred Patron girls.  For Jes, who dreams of running in the Fives, her Patron parentage is something to struggle against and resent.

When events take a sharp turn for the worse her father is forced to make a terrible decision - he must hand over Jes to a Lord and then severe ties with his "wife" and other daughters.  It should be a dream come true for Jes, but she soon comes to realise that nothing is as it seems and that her mother and sisters are paying a heavy price for her to live her dream.  Strong willed to the point of being mulishly stubborn, Jes must find a way to save her family before everything is lost, but the odds are stacked against her.  Her one advantage is her growing friendship with Lord Kalliarkos, but even with the help of her friend Kal there is no surety that she will be able to save herself - let alone the rest of her family.  To save herself and her dream Jes may have to sacrifice her family, but if she saves her family she may have to sacrifice her dreams.  It is time for Jes to discover the truth about her city and it's past, because nothing is what it seems, and everyone seems to be playing games with her as their game piece.

Court of fives is the first book in a new series by Kate Elliott, and it is touted as her first foray into young adult fiction.  While this is written as a young adult novel, it is one of those amazing reads that crossed ages and would suit most (if not all) adult fantasy readers as well.  Jes and her family are fully formed characters - complete with strengths, weaknesses, desires, and dreams.  In many ways this book is a well written fantasy that doesn't need any additional labels, the lead character and her siblings may be teenagers but they are living very adult lives and having to make adult decisions in a world that is delightfully brutal for your typical teen fantasy series.  Fans of Sarah J. Maas and Rae Carson will find a lot to like here as the magic and fantasy are ambient to the world rather than something that is showy and requires a lot of complicated explanation.

I found this series now which is great because it means that in theory I only have to wait a few more months for the next book in the series to be released - and i am looking forward to seeing what twists and turns Elliott takes next in her world building because the ending of Court of fives was a mind blowing moment of "did that really just happen?".  I resented every moment I had to put this book down when I started reading which is the sign of a great series, the fact that as I reached the end of the book I tried to slow down my reading to make the story last longer makes it an even greater series.  

There is a lot to like here and very little not to like, the characters have been sculpted and had life breathed into them, and now they are pawns on the board of their creators imagination - but at the rate Jes is developing her own sense of self she may yet prove to be the creator of her own destiny (and Elliott may have to follow her lead).

If you like this book then try:

Reviewed by Brilla

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