Tournament of Books Round 1: Court of Fives vs. An Ember in the Ashes

In Court of Fives by Kate Elliot, Jessamy wants nothing more than to participate in the Game of Fives which includes rigorous obstacle courses. Some of the paths can be deadly if you don’t make sure you have your footing right. Much to her dismay, there is no way that her father would ever let her participate in the trials but Jessamy has no intention of following his orders.
court of fives
On the day Jessamy is to participate, her father comes home from war as a hero and she is torn between trying to be the dutiful daughter or following her heart and participating in the Fives. What happens next is a complete undoing of the world she has come to know. Not only will she meet someone during the game who will play an intricate role in her future, but her whole family will be torn apart all to serve another man’s greed for power.

This book has a older world feel to it that would perhaps be best compared to early Paris or Rome. Wars constant and men are judged by their valor and how many sons they have. There is also a very firm hierarchy of classes and a firm belief in folklore which is passed down through the generations. The book is a page-turner but there are times when the story slows down or goes too much into the historical that I did feel a little disinterested though these were few and far between. Overall I would say this is a book I would recommend to fans of dystopian or historical fiction of this time period.

An Ember in the Ashes by Sabaa Tahir contains a world that works like a Roman Empire which is filled with nothing but danger for all. Two individuals from opposite worlds, but share a common view for their own future, just might have the courage to break the bonds that chain them.

ember in the ashes
Laia is a Scholar slave, the lowest of the low in the ranks of the Martial Empire is fighting to find her brother and break him out of prison. Elias is a Mask, a warrior who has known nothing other than fighting and training as an empire soldier since age six. Two completely different lives yet the both only long for freedom from this world which is filled with violence and uncertainty. Both live in fear and both want to change the world. Elias wants people treated equal but lives in fear that he will be discovered deserting and will be killed. Laia just wants to survive her time as a servant under the watchful and terrifying eye of the Commander. Death is a possibility for her every day and the Commander is merciless. Yet Laia tries to get information to the Resistance in order to gain her brother’s freedom.
But when Laia and Elias meet, worlds collide. Both are guarded against each other yet are yearning to find out more about the other. Especially when they discover they have the same views. But to let people know they know each other is almost certain death and they both have something much bigger to survive.
This is an edge of your seat book in a world determined to crush all those who don’t follow the rules. You will be amazed at Laia and Elias’s will to survive and the trials they will overcome. The world and the characters are realistic and moving. Not a book to be overlooked and an amazing production for a debut author.


Reviewed by Shelley Daugherty, Library Media Specialist at Richwoods High School, Peoria, IL


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