ARC Review ~ Court of Fives

Author: Kate Elliot
Series: Court of Fives #1
Genre: YA Fantasy
Page Length:  448 Pages
Publication Date: August 18th, 2015
Publisher: Little, Brown Books
Source: ARC via publisher (Thanks Novl!)
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.
The first think I noticed about this book is its connections to An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir. If you liked that one, then you might enjoy Court of Fives as well.

The Patrons are a race of people who rule over the Commoners. It's basically the equivalent to the Patricians and the Plebians of Ancient Rome. Jes is a girl of mixed race, and as such she and her family don't belong with either group. She loves to compete in the Fives, a competition consisting of five physically and mentally-demanding obstacles to complete before the other competitors do. It's a form of entertainment for people, and competitors in the Fives have a chance to make it big and win loads of money. A horrifying tragedy threatens her family's livelihood, and Jes must make tough decisions between love and loyalty to save her family and herself. 

The characters in this book really were a positive part of this novel. Although they weren't the most unique, they all possessed something that kept me intrigued. I admire Jes' tenacity and dedication. She tries so hard to be what other need of her. She shoulders so many burdens. I really enjoyed the relationship she had with her sisters. Jes' Patron father is a famous soldier in the army, and he defies society's standards by having children with a Commoner whom he loves and can never marry due to laws. He wants to raise his children as Patron as possible to give them the best life he can offer them. He's such a complex character who shows his cold, calculating side. Underneath it we see the compassionate side, the one who's tormented by the decisions he's been forced to make. Kal's naïveté and genuine good character was a breath of fresh air in a surprisingly dark cast. 

The world building is where most of my problems with this book resonate. For starters, the history is a complete mess. There's such a tangle of fighting among various nations who are all ruled by related royal families. I felt as though lots of key points in this book were never explained. We don't understand the society well besides Patrons being better than Commoners. Elliot fails to explain the history well. We never know how or why the Fives came about. It just bugs me how many things are left unexplained in this novel.

Court of Fives contains lots of fantasy elements. The magic is present, and it's bound to play a bigger role later on in the series. There are ties to religion and superstitions and hints to histories, ruins, and cultures long forgotten. I hope Elliot expands on this! The writing was quite good, yet the pacing was severely off. Way too slow in some areas and confusingly fast in others, this book could have been smoother. The romance was pretty bland, and I didn't see any development at all.

With lots of promise and much to look forward to in the oncoming books, I'd recommend you check out this start to a new series.


  1. I'm sorry that this wasn't as amazing as it could have been, Rachel, although at least it still had some elements and moments that were really quite enjoyable! The character segregation sounds so interesting (that kind of thing really interests me, but it's equally terrifying, to see it so black and white and set), although I'm planning on reading An Ember in the Ashes first, and possibly this if I end up enjoying that enough.
    Lovely review, and oh- the fact your flower rating system has eyes and mouths is so gorgeous.

  2. An Ember in the Ashes wasn't a read that I enjoyed all that much and I have a nagging suspicion that this will go the same. I'm sorry you didn't enjoy the book all that much and the worldbuilding sounds pretty disappointing which is very important when it comes to this genre especially. Lovely review!

  3. I wonder if Ancient Rome influenced books will be the next big thing.

    Thanks for reviewing this one Rachel, I hadn't heard of it before (which I find odd, I must be slacking when it comes to book stalking). I'm mostly worried about the pacing, I don't have the patience to play catch up in books. I understand not wanting to overexplain as an author, but help your reader out just a tad bit!

  4. Bleh. I did recently finish An Ember in the Ashes, but seeing that this is lacking in world-building makes me sad. I don't think I'll enjoy reading this, especially considering how thick the book is.

  5. A Court of Fives sounds pretty interesting! I haven't read An Ember in the Ashes yet, but I heard a lot about it! It's always sad when the world building doesn't work, and your left confused by all the unexplained things. Lovely review though!
    I also just wanted to say that I love how unique all your posts are and all the different ideas you come up with! I really like your blog design too. :) I see you around a lot on Twitter, and you seem super cool. I'm sorry that I missed all your recent FAC 2016 chats! They looked like a blast! Keep up all the awesome work<3
    All the best,

  6. Ahhh! I really don' like it when the world building in a YA fantasy is messy. I need solid world building or I'm going to be prickly as a porcupine when I'm reading it. I do like the sound of the characters but I think I'm waiting for the sequel to come out and then maybe binge-read the series.
    Great review, Rachel! I'm glad you liked it overall.

  7. Awh, I'm really not sure what to think of this one. I usually luuuurve world-building. Give me all the details! Whatever's the politics going on! Rich worlds! And whatnot XD So a beh world sounds okayish. Also, there's the romance. But overall, it sounds great! Lovely review <3

  8. I'm a massive fantasy fan, so Court of Fives is high up on my anticipating list. I think I might still give it a go and just hope the world building and meh romance doesn't destroy it for me :/

  9. An Ember in The Ashes wasn't at all my cup of tea, so oh god, I don't even know what to do about this book :/

    I swear on the Sun God, I cannot tolerate books that lack in world-building. I mean, this is a Fantasy! Isn't world-building the most important thing here? I'm okay with mediocre romance (I don't care for much roman in a Fantasy) but again, there's no fun in reading when characters are bland, right? Gah, Rachel! This was one of my highly anticipated reads :(

  10. Oh eugh. The Ember in the Ashes comparison got me I tried to read it a while back but something about the writing just irked me. And apparently the worldbuilding isn't fabulous which is def the tipping point lol. LOOKS LIKE I'LL BE SKIPPING THIS ONE welp

  11. This sounds like it really does play off the popularity of An Ember in the Ashes unfortunately with the Ancient Rome thing. A shame about the world building too because that's what I was craving in Ember!

  12. Yikes!! Sounds like this book was a mess. They can't all be winners I guess!

  13. Oh no! That sucks about the romance. :( I've been hesitant to start this because I've heard very mixed things. The lack of solid worldbuilding worries me, too.
    Thanks for your honest review! I'll be going in with lower expectations now.

  14. Hmmm, I'm not sure about this one... I wasn't entirely too drawn to it so I didn't get it from BEA and after reading your review I don't think I'll be reading it as a finished copy either...
    Thank you for a very honest review Rachel!


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