Author: Kate Elliott
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy, Fiction
Series: Court of Fives #1
Disclaimer - This book was read in the ARC* form. There may be some differences in this version than from what appears in other copies of this book.
Publication: August 2015
Overall, a fun dip into a new fantasy world that has many unique qualities. It lies nicely between young adult and new adult fantasy. The characters vary from lovable to "I hope you die very, very soon," giving you the ability to root for who you choose. It was familiar to observe a society where there is upper-class, lower-class, and those who fall nowhere in between but they find a place regardless. With the secrecy of who is good and who is evil, you are left wondering what will happen next with every page. But in the end, the conclusion is perfect. There is much still to be uncovered, which leads into the rest of the series, but the ending of this book is satisfying and makes you cheer.
In-depth Review (contains spoilers)
I will begin with the negative to get it out of the way. Jessemy is not always a very likeable character, especially with the fact that she seems to know nothing about the truth of their world. But what is even more annoying is the fact that everyone tells her that she knows nothing and yet does nothing to explain. This leads past the realm of mystery to just plain infuriating. Clearly, if Jessemy does not know something, then neither do we. But when it comes to the Fives, she is a brilliant character. She is smart and quick-thinking. And it is stated more than once that she is so good at the Rings since she stops and thinks ahead before ever acting. Rash is rarely a quality of hers.
Another issue that I found was her relationship with Kalliarkos. At first it was confusing as other characters accused her of fawning over him and following his directions but every time, she adamantly denied that. And there are no thoughts of hers that follow the process of her falling for him. It was sudden and unexpected and not in a good way. She went from not having any interest in him other than as an adversary to wanting to feel him up. I believe there needed to be a more gradual process of her acknowledging him romantically. But once they were together, their relationship was so cute. They tried to touch each other every time they could. Even if it was simply holding hands. And they truly did not care who saw or what others believed. They were content with each other.
Now, can we talk about that bastard, Esladas? I know that it was supposed to be revealed that he sorta didn’t, kinda, not really had a choice. (I’m still confused on that matter.) But he is still a horrible father and a horrible, whatever he is supposed to be to Kiya. Because he sure isn’t a good boyfriend. Besides the fact of my confusion, I did like this development. He came off well as a flustered man, terrified to lose what little progress he made in raising his position. He’s a pathetic man with skewed priorities and that characteristic was portrayed well.
The cultural rituals were such a good way to bring you further into the world. With the priests reanimating corpses to walk to their own tombs and oracles essentially being buried alive, I was very creeped out. But it succeeded in doing what it was there to do. I was convinced that these were such normal practices in this world and not just anyone could go against them.
The royalty itself was a mess. I mean in the story, it was described well as a mess. It made so much sense that all the countries are simply warring cousins of each other. Royalty of this kind would be that pitiful. And it was such a cool characteristic of Kalliarkos to already acknowledge the fact that he wanted nothing to do with that. Some of the royal lineage is confusing to follow and I wasn’t sure what was so special about Kalliarkos being able to inherit two thrones. Especially since it still seems like he’s several familiar relations away from actually doing that. But he is such a likeable character with his growth in realizing the difference of his station throughout the book. I was furious with Jessemy when she broke his heart by winning the Royal Fives Court. I understood her choice, but I was still pissed.
The ending though, was so satisfying. What I would call a happy cliffhanger. There is plenty of things that were left unexplained and left you wondering. But the main dilemma was solved. As the reader, you look forward to more but are happy to take a break and step out of the world. There is no needing to read the next book immediately. Which is refreshing.
I did thoroughly enjoy myself during this story. I anticipate delving back into this world at some point and am excited to see how the story develops further. But Jessemy better not hurt Kalliarkos ever again. I doubt I’ll be able to forgive her a second time.
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*ARC, or Advance Reading Copy, is a pre-published, nearly complete version of a new book that is given out before the official release date. The aim is to gain reviews that can coincide with the launching and to get booksellers interested in selling the book. It is normal for there to be changes from the ARC to the actual published copy since this form is an uncorrected proof.