Court of Fives by Kate Elliott is only $2.99 Today!
I have no idea how long this special price will last, but Elliott’s publisher prices her ebooks high, so $2.99 is a bargain.
And oh is it worth it. I said long ago I was going to talk about this series and I never have. This sale price gives me the perfect opportunity.
This seems to be her answer to Hunger Games. Not that there needed to be an answer to Hunger Games. But let’s put it this way. Jessamy is a kickass character whose skill at the Court of Fives, a dangerous game that entertains the masses, is central to the plot.
However, the world-building is vastly different, and as Elliott builds amazing worlds of such detail and diversity, it’s enough to make this book as different from Hunger Games as it could possibly be.
This is unusual presentation is the beginning of the plot summary at Wikipedia [though I hope you abhor spoilers as much as I do, and will avoid going to read it]:
Enter the royal city of Saryenia. You will see such wonders here as you never knew existed in your tour of the many countries bordering the Three Seas.
It’s true this magnificent city began as a humble Efean fishing village built between Mist Lake and the Fire Sea. The narrow, twisting lanes of the oldest part of the city, the Warrens, are all that remain of the village, and of course only Commoners–that’s what we call people of Efean ancestry–live there now. Because the streets have no names, the only way to figure out where you are is by your proximity to the fountains at each intersection of three or four or five alleys (we can’t really call such narrow passageways “streets”). Each fountain bears the statue of an animal atop it, so the Commoners who live in the Warrens will give you directions according to how close they live to the “cat fountain” or the “scorpion fountain.” We won’t go there today, nor do we recommend you attempt to navigate that maze alone or, in truth, at all.
Saryenia has much more interesting and splendid things to see.
Jessamy lives in a world of Patrons and Commoners. Her father attained a military rank above his low station, something unheard of. In order to continue to advance, he needs to marry a woman of an equal or higher station–a Patron. It’s fine for him to keep concubines but his wife? Absolutely must be proper. But Jessamy’s father is a man of honor and as he continues to gain fame and respect, he refuses to marry and instead lives in the Warrens with his family–with the woman he considers his wife–and Jessamy and her siblings. I believe at the beginning of the book he has been with the woman he considers his wife–even though to marry her would be illegal–for over twenty years.
But at last his military victories and political advancement have lifted him to a position of such heights and popularity that his ability to live his life the way he wants is gone.
Jessamy–Jes, to her family–has a Patron father and a Commoner mother.
She is known as a ‘mule’ by Society.
Yes, a mule.
I love Kate Elliott’s ability to create systems so simple and elegant, and use words so incredibly precisely in doing so.
I have trouble keeping my worlds simple and elegant. Ahem. Moving forward.
Jessamy is intelligent, physically strong and agile, and loves the court of fives though her father doesn’t know she plays. Were she discovered, it would bring even more shame upon him, and he already has plenty.
Politics, power, romance, adventure–all the wonderful things you need for a kickass series begin here in this book. I’ve barely scraped the surface.
Check it out. I think you’ll love it.
The rest of the series is complete, as well. Poisoned Blade and as of July 27, Buried Heart. Which I have yet to read. Which I can’t read until The Dead Shall Live is ‘in the can’ as we say in the movie biz. But I’m in the publishing biz right now. I don’t know the publishing term.
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Have you read Court of Fives? What did you think?
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One-clicked and will let you know what I think! I tore through all the Cold Fire series on your recommendation and LOVED them. Definitely something different and wonderful in terms of world-building.
This is what amazes me about her. This world couldn’t be any more different than the Cold Fire series, and yet it is so rich and fabulous. Her characters and plots are strong, too, of course. She’s an amazing writer. Do let me know what you think!
I am back to comment! I tore through the first book, as expected. I enjoyed it immensely. I have to say her strength is DEFINITELY in world-building. It had that authenticity that just *clicked*. And my husband is Greek, so I was amused (or bemused) to see how sexist/racist the Greco-roman society is portrayed (I still taunt him with the fact that an otherwise completely staid guidebook I was once reading, could not refrain from noting that the men of ancient Greece were “world champion male chauvinists of all time”. heh! Anyway, back to the book. I loved it, love the main character SO MUCH. And loved the “little women meets american ninja warrior” concept even though it sounds completely crazy when you say that. Only weakness for me was that I like my YA pitched a little higher (this is aimed at grades 7-10), so some of the characterizations seemed overly simplified, and the love-angle was surprisingly boring considering the amazingness of the one in the Spiritwalker Trilogy. But obviously this is all minor and I’m reading the second one now!
I agree with everything you say. You know, when This Crumbling Pageant was published my publisher and I specifically didn’t classify it as YA for reasons that you seem to imply with your comment about “pitched higher.” I was so nervous about the really tough content in mine not being YA because I assumed it couldn’t be YA unless it was suitable for the entire range. I think that showed my unfamiliarity with as broad a range of YA as I now have read, and now we do claim the YA tag, because that’s where most of our readers. I would suggest our readers are adult women who love YA for its amazing breadth but still want a bit more mature content. Does that make sense at all?
sounds nice, just not my cup of tea