Title: Poisoned Blade
Author: Kate Elliott
Series: Court of Fives
Genre: Teen Fantasy
Rating: 3.5/5 stars
The Overview: Jessamy is moving up the ranks of the Fives–the complex athletic contest favored by the lowliest Commoners and the loftiest Patrons in her embattled kingdom. Pitted against far more formidable adversaries, success is Jes’s only option, as her prize money is essential to keeping her hidden family alive. She leaps at the change to tour the countryside and face more competitors, but then a fatal attack on her traveling party puts Jes at the center of the war that Lord Kalliarkos–the prince she still loves–is fighting against their country’s enemies. With a sinister overlord watching her every move and Kal’s life on the line, Jes must now become more than a Fives champion….She must become a warrior. -Goodreads
I’d like to start out by saying I’m a fan of this series and am really excited about Buried Heart, the conclusion to the trilogy coming out in July 2017. That said, I didn’t enjoy Poisoned Blade quite as much as Court of Fives.
What initially drew me to the series was the high-fantasy feel and element of competition. Poisoned Blade had very little focus on the games, which I found a bit disappointing. Rationally, I realize the entire plot can’t revolve around the games and still be a well-rounded story, but I was hoping for at least a little more focus on it. I also had a few plausibility issues. The main character always somehow managed to be at the right place at the right time for important moments. She was included in events and discussions well above her rank to the point where it was a little unbelievable. The movers and shakers even went as far as to tell her their grand schemes (usually treasonous and punishable by death) when I couldn’t see any logical reason for them to include her in their circle of trust. At least not to the degree that she was, anyway. I found most instances totally implausible, and it knocked my rating down a few notches.
There were still plenty of things I liked. I appreciated even more so in Poisoned Blade how well-developed and individualized all the characters were, especially Jessamy and her sisters. They really make the story complete and I can’t wait to see where their choices take them next. And, actually, I can’t wait to see where everything goes next. There are a lot of moving parts to this series, and I can tell it’s building towards something profound. Judging by how well Elliott ended each book, I’m predicting the trilogy-ender will be just as good. I still have lots of questions that need answers though.
Overall, as I mentioned in my review of Court of Fives, my new favorite trend is high fantasy authors tackling YA stories. Elliott is doing such a great job with the Court of Fives series that I plan on picking up other works by her sooner rather than later.
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