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Thursday, March 02, 2017

Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliott

Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliott

Book Stats:  

Reading level: Young Adult
Genre: Fantasy
Hardcover: 468 pages
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Readers
Release date: August 16th, 2016

Series:  Court of Fives #2

Source: Library

Reviewed by: Kara

Order: Amazon | Book Depository

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.
Like the first book, I really enjoyed this second continuation. However, being a second book, you do have to understand certain key elements from the first, one most notably being the royal lineage. I was so confused by how everyone was related that it brought me out of the story quite a lot. Before starting this one, the reader should re-read the first and make a family tree chart for the royal family! It does not so much fall into a typical second book pitfall as the character and plot development are well fleshed out and the action doesn't slow, but there are moments where events pass by so quickly that you might not be quite sure what exactly has happened.

In Court of Fives, Jessamy wanted to be a Fives adversary to live her dream, but in this book, her dream has come at a price and the stakes are much higher for survival. She's a Fives Challenger but she also must keep her status and win more Fives competitions to stay in Lord Gargaron's good graces. Since the political conflicts are ramping up - like the war with Saro-Urok; a possible plot by Prince Nikonos and Lady Menoe to kill the royal family and Kalliarkos; another plot by Lord Gargaron to put Lady Menoe and Kalliarkos on the throne; and the hints of rebellion by the Efeans - Jessamy is caught in the middle with her father's marriage to Lady Menoe, her love for Kalliarkos, her Efean heritage, and her duty as part of Lord Gargaron's Fives stable. With her mother and siblings in hiding (except for the missing Bettany), Jessamy also has to assume responsibility for her family and supply them with money, keep them safely away from Lord Gargaron and his soldiers, and search for Bettany if she can. But most direct plans are thwarted, and she must rely on the Efean rebellion to help them. When Amaya joins Lord Gargaron's household in disguise to help her friend Denya, spy for news, and supply an income, Jessamy finds an ally to search for Bettany and in convincing Lord Gargaron to travel around so she can become a better Challenger. However, in doing so, she unknowingly stumbles into the thick of all the building political machinations. Her unique view has put her at an advantage few others can see, and she must take the step from pawn and small rebel to being a leader and she discovers her mistakes can have disastrous consequences.

Another key element is her relationship with her father and her understanding of his actions. As a military leader and under Lord Gargaron's orders, he had to wed Lady Menoe and set aside his former family, but when hard pressed, he acknowledges Jessamy as legitimate and is proud of her accomplishments, which is significant. Since she encounters a bit of his past in visiting the garrison where he was a spider scout, she comes to understand a bit of why he's made the choices he has, and why his relationship with her mother was so important and different than everyone else's. In examining her father's choices and that of her siblings, she also finds Bettany and how far one might go when you really sacrifice your family for your beliefs...

This book also brings her back to Kal and despite being on different sides, she discovers they are still allies. Since Kal is absent from Jessamy for much of the novel, there is even less romance than the last book. This situation with Kal, I expect, will also be a big part of book three, Buried Heart, coming August 2017. Really looking forward to it!

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.

Follow Tynga on: Facebook | Twitter

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