Monday, February 13, 2017

Reading...Court of Fives

It's been a while since I read a book by Kate Elliott, and after finally sitting down with Court of Fives I'm kind of kicking myself for putting it off so long (so long, in fact, that I remember adding this to my mental to-read list back when it first came 2015).

Court of Fives is the first in a young adult fantasy series set in an East Asian and Pacific Island- inspired fantasy world. Jessamy is one of five daughters, in a family that is both highly regarded and looked down upon. Her father is Patron-born, and a decorated Captain in the military. Her mother is Efean, a "commoner." It is illegal for Patrons and Commoners to marry, and Jessamy and her sisters are seen as disgraceful. Not only are they girls -- highly honored in Efean cutlure, but looked down upon in the Suro (Patron) culture -- they are "mules." But Jessamy's father loves her mother and their daughters and cares for them and protects them as best he can.

Jessamy has one goal in life -- to play the Fives, an athletic competition that combines strength, speed, balance, strategy, and mental sharpness. She trains in secret, but dreams of one day being able to compete.

When disaster falls upon her family, it's her skill at Fives that ends up saving herself, her mother, and her sisters. It's this skill and passion that introduces her to Kalliarkos, a Patron of extremely high standing, with whom she forms a friendship, despite unanimous disaproval. Now, Jess is caught up in political schemes beyond her control, a pawn in games she isn't even aware of. And it's through this turn of events that she begins to get glimpses into the history of her mother's people, glimpses that lead her to believe that maybe the history she's been told isn't exactly the whole truth.

My enjoyment of Court of Fives can be summed up like this: I immediately bought the second book once I finished it. Kate Elliott builds the most amazing worlds, and it's always fun and interesting and exciting to spend time in them. Her plots are layered and detailed, and I really enjoyed the complex -- i.e., interesting and realistic -- relationships between the various characters. Jess is a bit exasperating at times, but who isn't?

Bottom line: well-crafted YA fantasy well-worth your time

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