Court of Fives #1. Author: Kate Elliot.
On the Fives court, everyone is equal.
And everyone is dangerous.
Jessamy’s life is a balance between acting like an upper-class Patron and dreaming of the freedom of the Commoners. But away from her family, she can be whomever she wants when she sneaks out to train for the Fives, an intricate, multilevel athletic competition that offers a chance for glory to the kingdom’s best competitors.
Then Jes meets Kalliarkos, and an improbable friendship between the two Fives competitors—one of mixed race and the other a Patron boy—causes heads to turn. When Kal’s powerful, scheming uncle tears Jes’s family apart, she’ll have to test her new friend’s loyalty and risk the vengeance of a royal clan to save her mother and sisters from certain death. (Published summary.)
Eh. Nothing in particular wrong with it, but it was just a fairly mediocre read. We’ve got a rather nebulous setting – it seems loosely egyptian-based and has various world-building facts, but I never got a strong over-all sense of the world they live in – we’ve got a few vague hints at magic (right at the end, completely unexplained), and we have a maybe-there, maybe-not romance (Jes repeatedly uses the boy to her own advantage, but he doesn’t seem to have noticed). Really, the only part that interested me was the girl’s powerful drive to compete in this athletic competition, and there wasn’t much of an arc to that. She’s good, and that’s that.
Sexual content: MC’s mother and father aren’t married as the father cannot legally marry a commoner, but he loves her and has stayed loyal. Mention of prostitutes. One kiss.
Violence: Character falls to his death during an athletic competition. Character back-hands a woman. Traditionally, servants and an oracle are killed to accompany important men into the afterlife. Several characters are walled up in a tomb with this intention.