Format: E-Galley, 448 pages
Release Date: August 16, 2016
Publisher: Little, Brown Books for Young Reader
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
Now a Challenger, Jessamy is moving up the ranks of the Fives--the complex athletic contest favored by the lowliest Commoners and the loftiest Patrons alike. 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 chance 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.In this thrilling sequel to World Fantasy Award finalist Kate Elliott's captivating young adult debut, a girl immersed in high-stakes competition holds the fate of a kingdom in her hands.
Poisoned Blade is the second installment in author Kate Elliot's Court of Fives series. Jessamy "Spider" Tonor has done the impossible. She's won a Court of Fives challenge which has vaulted her from novice to challenger something that isn't normally done until someone has won TEN challenges. And, she's rescued her mother and sisters from being put to death. But, it came by betraying the one person she pledged to stand by; Lord Kalliarkos, the heir to the throne of Efea.
Jess is still being closely watched by Lord Gargaron who tried hard to wipe out her entire family in the previous novel and forced her father into marrying Lady Menoe. Jess knows that if Gargaron learns what she and others did to save her mother, and sisters, there will be dire consequences for their actions. With her betrayal, Kal has to take up a role in the army that he found so unappealing while they were training for the Fives and falling in love. While Kal is sent away to war, Jess continues to run the Fives in order to keep her mother and sisters from ending up on the streets.
Jess has become a beacon of hope for other common born with patron fathers. While she technically has no legal standing in this world, she finds that being the daughter of a General who has saved Efea time and time again, pays dividends. She's even on a Fives circuit to put her names out there for everyone to see. But, Jess also knows that her goal of moving up from Challenge to Illustrious isn't all that important when the entire country is going to hell quickly.
Poisoned Blade is more politically motivated this time around. There is more back stabbing, more diabolical planing, more conflicts that has Jess in the middle of a war that she has to face her own brand of betrayal at the hands of someone she least expects. Everything that happens in this book, could have dire consequences for Efea and everyone that Jess cares about. I love Jess, I really do. I have said that from the very beginning I like the way she is strong, without being superhuman. She's able to do things that others can't do because she, like the Olympians in Rio, have trained hard, and worked hard to get where she is now.
While others may say that she put her own desires before her family, she's more than made up for running out at night to train for the challenge that could be compared to the American Ninya Warrior TV Show. I liked this story because of the character growth of both Jess and also Kal who really stands up and takes charge of a really bad situation. His relationship with General Esladas shows that he has the ability to be as fine a leader as he is the heir of kingdom.
Jess's relationship with her sisters, especially Amaya, is once again center stage. There are so many moving parts to this story that you really need to focus on the subterfuges that are happening right under the surface. Who can Jess really trust? Is anyone, including her sisters, actually trustworthy when the chips are down, and Jess needs allies?