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.
In this imaginative escape into an enthralling new world, World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott’s first young adult novel weaves an epic story of a girl struggling to do what she loves in a society suffocated by rules of class and privilege.
- The premise is unusual. I didn’t know about the Egyptian and Roman influence when I read the first book, but I saw the influence in the cultures.
- The multiculturalism of the world allows the author to explore identity, both personal and racial. This is at the heart of the novel, both for the main character and the country in which she lives.
- Unexpected and twisty plot.
- The story didn’t go where I thought it was going to go. I expected most of the conflict to be about Jessamy and her competing in the trials. It’s not that the story was bad, just that on some level, I didn’t get the story I was hoping for. In that way, it was both more and less than I expected. Not really a con, per se, but worth noting.
- The bad guy is really bad. He epitomizes the evil to which man will stoop for his own ambitions. Again, not necessarily a con, but worth noting. For younger YA readers, some of the events may be disturbing.
- From what you know of Ancient Egypt, how is Efea culture similar different?
- How do the Saroese resemble the Romans? What is different?
- If you had to choose a society to be part of, which would you choose? The Efean society ruled by women, or the Saroese society ruled by men? Why?
- Which culture should rule a country? The original one, or the stronger one? (Keep in mind the American Indians when you answer the question.)