So my name is Rashika and I am weird. I read a lot (duh) and I watch a lot of TV. I also like to review. Check out my blog (where I co-blog with awesome people).
***This review has also been posted on The Social Potato
Court of Fives was kind of disappointing. The blurb had me excited but the book itself wasn’t nearly as exciting as I had thought it would be.
I imagined that this would be a politically tense book and there would be high stakes but I never felt that way. Sure the MC is ripped away from her family by a conspiring lord but I never felt as though there were hidden motives everywhere or any sort of mystery that one usually gets in a politically charged novel. In fact, I think that this book is pretty straightforward because even though some people have agendas, they aren’t necessary hidden. Everyone knows there is something fishy going on and nothing is very surprising.
To add to that, this is a slow book. It isn’t boring per se but it is slow which is why it took me longer to read than it should have. The pace picks up a little towards the end of the book but I just wish more had been going on in the book. If there had been higher stakes, if things had been slightly more shrouded in mystery, I think this book would have nailed it but it didn’t.
I will say that I absolutely adore the world building in this book. It’s by no means original but I think Eliot does a good job of making it stand out. I LOVED learning the history of the world this book is set in and I loved learning about the war that rages on. We might not have gotten as many details butthere was never a moment when a small detail was mentioned and then just forgotten about. Everything was woven in beautifully.
I also adore Jes as a main character. I won’t say that she is one of the best female leads but her development over the course of the book is fantastic. She starts of as someone who has privileges she is completely unaware of and in some ways, despises. Yet when it is all taken away from her, we see how much her privileges have shaped her. She may be biracial but all of her beliefs and customs have been heavily influenced by one race (which just happens to be the dominating one.) I loved seeing her become aware of this and realizing that not everything she has been told is a 100% true and that she doesn’t have to be a part of an oppressive culture.
One of the things that I also found was beautifully done was the portrayal of classes. The Commoners are the lower class whose land was taken over by the upper class Patrons. The Patrons grow up sheltered and are told lies about their history whereas the Commoners are more aware of what really went down and have a lot more freedom than the socially oppressed Patrons.
Kal is one such patron. He also happens to be a prince. My problem with him was that even though he is shown to be this kind and considerate Patron, he is completely unaware of his privilege. He wants to be seen as an equal yet he can be so unaware of the differences between patrons and commoners and their upbringings. It was really hard to get behind Kal sometimes but I do think the future books will involve some serious growing up for him.
The romance also did not work for me. I loved it in theory but on paper it wasn’t done as well as it could have been. There was no real development and there was no chemistry. It all felt very bland to me which was why it was so hard for me to ship the two characters.
Jessamy’s relationship with her family on the other hand, was amazing. I LOVED seeing her with her family. Her sisters differ a lot from one another since they all want different things from life. Yet they all seem to love each other (in spite of all their banter and differences.) Jessamy’s mother is a commoner and her father a patron but they were a couple that stuck together for 20 years until a lord decided he wanted to tear the family apart. We didn’t get much of it but I liked that her parents loved one another. Her mother was a fierce woman who wasn’t always seen as such by her daughters but one who has hidden strength. Her father, at first, seems like an asshole but I ended up warming up to him too.
The book is slow, like I mentioned earlier, and the first quarter of the book is spent establishing the world and the race. The next two quarters were Jessamy getting used to her new life at the stable and the last quarter is where anything really worth of note happens. It isn’t that the first 3 quarters of the book are painful or boring; it’s just that there is so little worth note going on.
While I think this book would have benefited from higher stakes (and perhaps a better developed romance), I did enjoy the book and can only hope it gets better from here (especially if that ending is any indication of what is to come in future instalments.) I eagerly await the sequel and till then, if you are a fan of fantasy, you should definitely check this one out!
Note that I received an ARC of the book for review in exchange for an honest review.