In this third book in the epic Court of Fives series, Jessamy is the crux of a revolution forged by the Commoner class hoping to overthrow their longtime Patron overlords. But enemies from foreign lands have attacked the kingdom, and Jes must find a way to unite the Commoners and Patrons to defend their home and all the people she loves. Will her status as a prominent champion athlete be enough to bring together those who have despised one another since long before her birth? Will she be able to keep her family out of the clutches of the evil Lord Gargaron? And will her relationship with Prince Kalliarkos remain strong when they find themselves on opposite sides of a war? Find all the answers in this beautifully written and exciting conclusion to World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott's debut New York Times bestselling young adult trilogy!
I am so full of love for this book and the whole series that I don't really know where to start. Kate Elliott's Court of Fives trilogy (plus two novellas) is packed full of themes and tropes that I adore: political intrigue, complex family dynamics, multi-faceted relationships between women (especially sisters), star-crossed lovers, separations and reunions, competitors at the top of their game, revolution. The latest and final volume in the trilogy, Buried Heart was one of my most anticipated books of 2017. I was more than satisfied; this book brings it all and more, by going to places I never would have expected and wrapping everything up perfectly. I say perfectly, not neatly -- just like in real life, there are unanswered questions, loose ends, and heartbreak. But the conclusion felt true to the world, the story, and the characters that Kate Elliott created, and I have a hard time asking for more.
One of the main themes of this book -- and looking back, of the entire series -- is the unavoidable legacies of colonialism. The main character, Jessamy, is a product of that colonialism: her Saroese father is a respected general who loves the mother of his children but cannot treat her respectfully if he wants to rise in the ranks of the army, while her Efean mother is nearly destroyed by the political machinations of his rivals. As an elite Fives adversary, Jes has long navigated both words, performing for Patrons while remaining loyal to her Efean family. But circumstances quickly lead her to a place where she must make a choice, and her decision drives everything that follows. Ultimately, Jes's fate is bound up in Efea's, and they can only rise together.
Family is also a significant aspect of these stories. Kate Elliott has compared the trilogy to Little Women; while clearly not a straight-up retelling, there are clear similarities in the relationships the sisters have with each other and their parents, especially their distant father, gone off to the wars. Here, the scholarly Maraya finally gets her turn in the spotlight. She and Jes work together, protect each other, and find their own roles in the rebellion.
Although this wouldn't be a Court of Fives novel without some athletic competition, the focus of Buried Heart shifts away from the Fives Court and onto the battlefield. The people of Efea are plotting a rebellion; meanwhile, outside invaders threaten Patrons and Commoners alike. But the Fives are as much a game of strategy as of physical skill, and Jes proves herself a schemer and a leader, out-thinking her rivals on every side. The way she uses her enemies against each other and plots a victory is satisfying and realistic.
To say much more would require more spoilers than I want to include here, so I'll leave off for now, but I'd be happy to talk more with anyone. In short, this book and the entire trilogy rank among the most satisfying reading experiences I've had in awhile, and Kate Elliott cements her status among my favorites of all time. I can't recommend this story, and her other works, highly enough.
Paul Weimer at Skiffy and Fanty, yours?