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Tuesday, February 21, 2017

Court of Fives by Kate Elliott

This fantasy was so good! I definitely did not expect to like this book as much as I did. It was compelling and action-filled. The characters were engaging. I loved Jes and Kal the best. The whole book revolves around Jes' conflicts and her choices based upon a few events. Running the Fives has been her dream that has always been out of reach. With her father's status as great military leader and his already taboo marriage to an Efean woman that he refuses to put aside, meaning she and her children still have his loyalty which is unheard of for a Patron man and makes him and his wife legendary among the Efeans, Jessamy is cautioned even more to be inconspicuous and obedient. In fact, none of the girls are to ever draw attention to themselves, hard because of their mixed race/status, the attention of Jessamy and Bettany being twins/cursed, Maraya having a club foot, and Amaya being exceptionally beautiful. This makes having a mixed race a key element of the book, which should draw some attention in YA and be part of #weneeddiversebooks movement. It's rare to have a YA fantasy deal with mixed race issues so prominently.

When their family status and future is most insecure than it has ever been due to her father's lord dying, Jes still pursues her dreams with the possibility of ruining everyone else's, which one could argue shows both courage and stupidity. It doesn't hurt that she's met Kal, who she is attracted to, not just for his looks, but because he's smart, honest, and a talented Fives runner who also happens to be a lord. But then when her mother and sisters are shamed as her father's star rises by being taken in to Lord Gargaron's household, Jessamy also faces the hardest choice -- to continue with her one chance to run the Fives in front of her father or be a dutiful daughter and go with the rest of her family.

Having always thought her father was rather hard to reach and would deny her despite her dreams, Jessamy continues with her plans but loses to Kal on purpose; however, Lord Gargaron knows of her cunning plan and forces her into a deal to run for him which also increases her father's status. But when she finds out that her mother and sisters are missing, Jessamy sacrifices her chances as a Fives adversary to possibly be discovered rescuing her family, showing that when faced with the worst odds, she will choose her family's lives over her own. It's quite a turn from selfishness to sacrifice for Jes, but then, if you consider that Jessamy decided not to run the Fives originally, she likely would have been missing with her family and no one would have been in a position to attempt to save them, much less find powerful enough allies to make a difference in their fates. This is one of the reasons that this book is really inspiring because choices of one young teen girl (who starts out selfish yet brave) comes to be the savior of her family, at least in the short term. We'll see what happens in the next book!

The setting was a mix of ancient Egyptian and Greco-Roman society (think playing Age of Empires or Civilization) and myth. For more on the elements Kate Elliott used to create Court of Fives, visit "The Book Smugglers" site. This was a pretty clean read except for the bit about Kal pretending Jes is his mistress to give them more time together to plot and plan. Does contain some romance, but not very much, so this can definitely be read by middle grade readers or upper elementary readers. An interesting bit is how the premise is modeled after a variation of Little Women, which I hadn’t realized up until now. All in all, worth a read! If you'd like to read an excerpt, visit Tor.com. Stay tuned for my review of book 2 coming soon!

Tynga is a 32 years old mom of two, from Montreal, working as a lab technician in an hospital specialized in heart disease. In her free time, she enjoys reading all things Paranormal and photography.

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