Thursday, October 13, 2016

Book Review: Poisoned Blade by Kate Elliott

A while back, Gail Carriger recommended Court of Fives on her blog as a must read. I was looking for a new book at the time, so I checked it out from the library and read it over the course of two evenings. After I was done, I told everyone I knew about it, including Michelle. She said it was ridiculously good and she hated me because it ended on a cliffhanger. Ha! Kate Elliott’s Poisoned Blade was released back in August and is the second book in the Court of Fives series. So, why am I reviewing the second book in a series when I never reviewed the first? Because this is one of those rare occasions where you can pick up the second book and settle comfortably into Jessamy’s world without necessarily having to read the first book.

Before we begin, a little backstory: In the first book, Court of Fives, we find out that Jessamy is born into a family that, according to her society, is not allowed. Her father is a Patron, a member of the ruling class, and her mother is a Commoner, a member of the lowest class. Technically, their marriage is not legal because of their societal divide, and unfortunately for Jessamy, she is subject to the rules and expectations of both classes. One of the activities she is not allowed to participate in is the Fives, an athletic competition that pits Adversary against Adversary for the entertainment of both Patrons and Commoners alike. Jessamy rebels against the expectations of her family and participates in the Fives without their knowledge. Jessamy is incredibly successful in her Fives pursuits, and at the end of the novel, she is elevated to the next rank of Adversary, a feat that has rarely been seen.

In Poisoned Blade, Jessamy’s story forges ahead as she must continue to compete in the Fives to protect her family. Jessamy takes the chance to travel around her world and finds herself in the beginnings of a civil war that will change both her life and her world forever.

It had been over a year since I had finished Court of Fives, and I was nervous that I wasn’t going to remember the details of the last novel. Lucky for me, the author drops hints throughout the first three chapters of Poisoned Blade to remind the reader of what happened in the lengthy climax of the last book.

I continued to like Jessamy throughout this sequel. She is one of those characters who seems almost superhuman. She’s an amazing athlete, brave, and a good friend to the other competitors in the Fives. What I loved about her character more is that her weakness is her family. She’s willing to do anything to save them. I also liked that Elliott continued her building of Jessamy’s world. The traditions, beliefs, religions, and class systems seem like they could exist anywhere. Her characters are forced to struggle with a multitude of injustices, including racism, classism, and barbaric religious traditions. I was impressed that Elliott was able to weave these topics into Jessamy’s world without the reader feeling like they were being beaten over the head with a message that pulls them out of the story. Finally, I loved the ending. Not everything is wrapped up in a pretty bow, but it provides enough closure for the reader to hold out until the next book.

There’s only one thing I didn’t like about Poisoned Blade. When I was reading Court of Fives, I found myself so sucked into Jessamy’s story that I would actually have audible reactions. I believe phrases like, “Oh, that’s just messed up!” and “You have got to be kidding me…” actually made their way out of my mouth. That didn’t happen in the sequel. Don’t get me wrong, I still enjoyed it, but it didn’t give me quite the emotional reaction that the first novel did.

It’s going to be a while before the third book in the Court of Fives series is released, but I am looking forward to seeing how Jessamy is going to survive the inevitable civil war that is coming. Good luck, Jessamy. I’m rooting for you.

Emily is impatiently waiting for two books to come in at the library. One is a comedy and the other is another creepy mystery. It's a race to see which comes in first! (She's secretly hoping the creepy one makes it...)

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