Series: Court of Fives #1
Published by Listening Library, Little Brown Books for Young Readers on August 28, 2015
Genres: Fantasy, Romance, Young Adult
Length: 11 hours 40 minutes
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*This book was provided by the Publisher for review. No compensation was provided and all opinions are strictly my own.
In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott begins a new trilogy with her debut young adult novel, weaving an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.
Jessamy's life is a balance between acting like an upper class 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, multi-level athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom's best competitors. Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an unlikely friendship between a girl of mixed race and a Patron boy causes heads to turn. 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
Court of Fives has some great world building going for it. The background history of the two peoples was slowly given over the course of the book and I found I was gobbling up each new bit given. I was a little disappointed that this book felt like a series setup / stepping stone book. When I finished it I had that reaction of “huh is that all that’s going to happen?” The plot in this one felt more like it should have been a sideline item to something bigger. But that aside I did enjoy the world and will definitely read more.
The Fives tournaments were really interesting to imagine and reminded me of those crazy obstacle course shows (but way more dangerous). A lot of the elements of the cultures felt familiar, such as the burial rituals and the ruling class of Patrons, but that wasn’t necessarily a bad thing. I am hoping the next book brings about some unique twists on what we’ve already been given as the world definitely has some good potential.
Jess took awhile to grow on me and her sisters didn’t really impress me much. For instance, the personality of Amiable (actual name Amara? Sorry If I get spellings wrong) felt really cliche selfish sister to me. Then another was the smart bookish one. Though Jess was a pretty selfish girl as well in ways. But the other sisters just didn’t stand out to me – admittedly though we learn things about them that makes me wonder if we’ll get to see more character building in the next book.
I thought this was going to be more along the lines of adult fantasy but simply with a young adult protagonist, but it felt very mainstream YA to me. I think I went in with that expectation of it not being such a straightforward read. I think the ending was just a touch too obvious for the setup of the next book. In cases like this where the first book feels like an appetizer I usually find I enjoy the second book better. I am sure that will be the case this time as well.
Thoughts on the narration
Georgia Dolenz did a great narration job. This is the first time I’ve listened to a book narrated by her and hopefully it won’t be the last. Her voice fluctuations were mellow and made the listening a real pleasure. I recommend the audio version of this book over the print edition as I personally started reading it in print and then set it aside for over a month because I had become bored. But when I listened to the audio instead I made it through in a matter or days.
When I'm in the zone I can flip book pages faster than the eye can see - screaming "More Input!" I'm a book, yarn, & art supply hoarding goblin who loves to draw, make toys and craft all sorts of creepy cute things. My current habit is to listen to audio books while I'm arting it up!