Court of Fives Trilogy by Kate Elliot
Court of Fives (book 1).
On the Fives court, everyone is equal.
And everyone is dangerous.
Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper-class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But away from her family, 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 competitors.
Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an improbable friendship between the two Fives competitors—one of mixed race and the other a Patron boy—causes heads to turn. When Kal’s powerful, scheming uncle tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test her new friend’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a royal clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death.
Confession: This book grabbed me from the start. It was exciting and fast paced between the competitions, rescuing her family and the budding romance between Jes and Kal just kept me on the edge of my seat. I immediately liked Jes, she was fiercly loyal to her family, especially her father and sisters, but she also knew how to stick up for herself. I loved the relationship that developed slowly between her and Kal. There was instant attraction between them, but they took things slow, mostly because falling in love would have caused even more issues for Jes and her family. The plot by Kal’s uncle to manipulate Kal and Jes’s father was well done, and kept you wondering about how prejudice against a race could make someone so evil. I also enjoyed reading about the Fives competition, it sounded amazing and hard, but I also liked the friendly rivalries everyone seemed to have with each other.
Poisoned Blade (Book 2).
Jessamy is moving up the ranks of the Fives—the complex athletic contest favored by the lowliest Commoners and the loftiest Patrons in her embattled kingdom. Pitted against far more formidable adversaries, success is Jes’s only option, as her prize money is essential to keeping her hidden family alive. She leaps at the chance to tour the countryside and face more competitors, but then a fatal attack on Jes’s traveling party puts her at the center of the war that Lord Kalliarkos—the prince she still loves—is fighting against their country’s enemies. With a sinister overlord watching her every move and Kal’s life on the line, Jes must now become more than a Fives champion…She must become a warrior.
Confession: I liked the second book just as much as the first, although it was a bit slower moving. Jes and Kal don’t spend a lot of time together in this book, they are both doing what they need to in order to survive. Jes running the Fives and winning, Kal off fighting a war. But when they do come together things heat up as they realize that their separation didn’t make them stop caring for each other. The plot of Kal’s uncle taking over the country heats up as well and comes to a crises by the end of this book. This one is a bit bloodier, with some battles and murders happening. But still an exciting read.
Buried Heart (Book 3)
On the run from the murderous King Nikonos, Jessamy must find a way for her beloved Kalliarkos to take his rightful place on the throne. Only then can he end the oppression of the commoners by their longtime Patron overlords. But Kal’s rise to power is fraught with manipulation and shocking decisions that make Jes question everything they promised each other. As their relationship frays and Jes’s family and friends beg her for help, will she cast Kal and her Patron heritage aside? Will she finally join- even lead- the rebellion that has been burning among the Commoners for years?
This heart-pounding finale forces Jessamy to confront an inescapable truth: with or without her, the revolution has begun.
This was a great final book in this series. The ending had some surprises that I wasn’t expecting and some of them were a little gruesome, but it ends on a positive note which I was worried for awhile that it wouldn’t. Jes and Kal spend a lot of time at the start of the book, simply running for their lives, but they still find time to be together. I still liked them as a couple, but at times I found myself rooting for Ro and Jes to get together. I really liked Ro, the poet who helps start the revolution. He was fun and smart and was a good match for Jes, but he was a bit of a charmer and a flirt which Jes eventually calls him on.
Jes’s family and her relationships with all of them is strained throughout most of this book, and although her sisters and mother do not trust her father any more, Jes refuses to believe that he doesn’t still love them all. She continues to fight in what she believes to be right even when everyone tries to convince her that she is wrong. I liked all of her sisters and found them to be well rounded characters. Her mother I found a little harder to like, but I understand where she was coming from.
The world building was interesting throughout the whole series. It has been described as a greco-roman society with some Egyptian influences, which I would agree with. There also appears to be a little middle-eastern influence as well. The cultural history of the Efeans was fascinating and Jes found out things about that part of her heritage through out the three books. There was also some interesting things about how the Saroese, (the rulers of the country who conquered it 100 years ago) appropriated their customs and made it into something new and at times twisted. The Saroese had some pretty twisted beliefs, especially with how women and girls were treated.
Overall I really enjoyed this series. It had a fascinating culture to learn about, and strong, well rounded characters that you couldn’t help but root for.