Review: Court of Fives by Kate Elliott

Thursday, August 20, 2015

Court of Fives #1
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Publication Date: August 18, 2015
Rating: 3 Stars
Source: ARC received in a trade
Pages: 448

Summary (from the back of the book):

On the Fives court, everyone is equal. And everyone is dangerous.

Jessamy’s life has always been a balance between acting like an upperclass 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, multilevel athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best athletes. Adversaries are masked, so Jes can compete in secret, but victors must reveal their identities. If she wins, she could destroy her family’s precarious social standing.

Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between a girl of mixed race and a Patron boy turns heads. 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.

In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new universe, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott’s first young adult novel weaves and epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege. 

This book kept me fairly entertained while I read it, but I didn't love it. Jessamy is the daughter of a Commoner woman and a Patron man. Her father is really consumed by his reputation and honor and so generally, his four daughters don't seem to get out much. Jes sneaks out to train for the Fives and finally gets the chance to run in a real trial. Shortly after that, the man that sponsors her father in the army dies and a new jerk of a lord comes in and swoops him up and tears their family apart. Jes is taken to train for the Fives at the lord's stable and despite being away from her family, it's everything she has ever wanted. She finds a way to make this work for her until she figures out what this new lord has done with the rest of her family.

I don't know that that's a very good summary of the book, but I feel like everything that I wanted to say would be too spoilery. So anyway, yeah, I liked this book alright, but I definitely didn't love it. I thought the concept of the Fives was interesting, I don't really see what's so special about it, but at the same time, I don't really see what's so special about football or any other sport in general. I think that the first line of the summary on the back of the book is really misleading when it says that everyone is dangerous. Nobody that we meet in this book that is participating in the Fives seemed dangerous at all. Anytime Jes had any interaction with anyone while she was running just seemed like friendly competition to me. Nobody was trying to sabotage anyone in the games. So that mislead me a little bit going into this book.

I never really felt strongly about any of the characters. I liked them just fine, but none of them really touched me. Jessamy really only ever seemed to be thinking about herself. She cared deeply for family and probably Kal, but she seemed to be so wrapped up in her own business. I think that she gets that from her father. It's said in the book that she is the most like him. He struck me as only really thinking about himself and his honor. I don't doubt that he did, in his own way, truly care for his family, but I think that he cared more about his honor and keeping up his appearance than going out of his way to keep the woman that he supposedly loved for twenty years and his four daughters. 

I liked Kal. But I felt like it was just way to easy for him to get along with everyone. I don't think that he butted heads with anyone this whole book. He's like a puppy. He's constantly trying to make Jessamy happy and it was like that was his whole purpose.

As for the rest of Jes's family, they were alright. Her mother just seemed to be too pleasant about everything. Even though pretty much nothing in this book is pleasant at all. I did not like Amaya. She acts like such a princess and gets all uppity anytime she sees Jes getting attention from Kal which was annoying. Get over yourself. In the short time that Bettany was mentioned, she just seemed to be unpleasant and Maraya was basically just there to take care of everyone.

I wasn't really feeling the romance either. It felt kinda fake. I really just felt like Jessamy was using Kal the whole time. They don't even really have a relationship and she is asking him for all these HUGE favors that only benefit her. And she badgers him into doing it. He just wants to know how to master Rings! I honestly don't really even understand why he liked her besides because she could help him with Rings and he just wants to run the Fives and forget all his other lordly duties.

Despite not really caring for many of the characters or the romance, I liked the story. It kept me fairly interested. I feel like some parts were a little bit slow, but it wasn't too bad. The only thing I can think of that I didn't care for about the story was how things just seemed to happen. It was like Jes got one of her brilliant ideas, badgered Kal into helping her, and then just BOOM they're doing the plan. Like there's no transition or preparation or journey to the plan, they just come up with it and immediately jump into it. No explanation as to how they're really going to accomplish it or how to deal with any people who might be around, it all just happens. I hope that makes at least a little bit of sense.

The only parts of this book that really confused me was all the talk of the history of Saro and Efea. And all the kings and queens that all have the same names. I couldn't find it in me to care about all that. It never felt important to me. At this point, I also don't really see the importance of the wars that keep getting mentioned.

Despite this rather blah sounding review, I did overall enjoy this book. The plot was kinda interesting. I would definitely read any sequels that this book will have. 


  1. Oh, too bad about the romance and not liking characters! I rather enjoyed this one, and will be looking out for more books in the series. I know many other reviewers have struggled with this one, so I'm happy to see that you at least somewhat liked it! :D

    Excellent review, Cyra!

    Alyssa @ The Eater of Books!

    1. I am excited to see what will happen next. Maybe the characters will grow on me in future books. I hope they do. I think that I could like Jes and Kal. I just need a little something more from them.

  2. Good review, I'm glad in the end you liked it because I still have got to pick this one up!

    1. Thank you! I think that in the future I could like the rest of this series better, I just need Jes and Kal to work better together or just not be together. I really and truly hated their relationship.


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