22 July 2014

Death Sworn by Leah Cypess

When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with. So when the Elders sent her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.

But beneath the assassins’ caves, Ileni will discover a new place and a new purpose… and a new and dangerous love. She will struggle to keep her lost magic a secret while teaching it to her deadly students, and to find out what happened to the two tutors who preceded her. But what she discovers will change not only her future, but the future of her people, the assassins… and possibly the entire world.

It's been three years since I last read a Leah Cypess book and now that I've finished Death Sworn, I can't believe I managed to go so long.  Death Sworn exceeded my expectations with a great main character, an interesting world, and a compelling plot.  I would heartily recommend this book to any fantasy fan.

Ileni was a great main character: fiery in the best way.  She had a set of morals that she stuck to, unless sufficient evidence convinced her to change them.  She wasn't so heartless that she wasn't afraid of anything, but she had enough courage to put on a brave face.  She'd snap at you as soon as look at you, but she had a great capacity for kindness and compassion.

The writing style was fluid without being flowery, but I could see where some of it might be annoying: every page or so there was a mention about how deadly the assassins were.  "He could kill me easily" or some variation of that became a mantra.  That's not to say that the deadliness of the assassins wasn't shown, because it was in great detail sometimes, but the constant reminders were redundant after a while and borderline irritating after two hundred pages of it.

But the mystery was compelling and the world efficiently built so that it was breathtakingly easy to be pulled along with Ileni through the story and the tunnels of the assassin's cave.  With the next book set to expand outside of the caves, I'm excited to see another installment of the world Leah Cypess has already begun to build so well.

My one complaint about the story would have to be the romance.  My feelings towards it are rather unique because I happened to like both characters involved, and their connection, but the execution of the romance took a turn towards the overdramatic and, sadly, generic.  I think I might've gotten more out of it if perhaps the love interest had had his own, strong subplot.  He was just sort of... there a lot and if we as an audience had been able to tap into his thoughts, perhaps the execution of the romance (bad pun?) would have been better.

Overall, though, I am so glad that this is a series and I cannot wait for the next book, Death Marked.

"Every person we assassinate dies to serve a greater purpose."

"I'm sure they would be happy if they knew it," Ileni said sarcastically, but her voice sounded weak even to her. "If you would explain it to them, perhaps they would volunteer for your knives."
How to throw assassins off balance: cry in front of them.
The assassin crouched atop one of the shorter, thicker pillars, his body a curve of taut muscles beneath nondescript gray clothes. He looked more like a weapon than a person.
Book Info
  • pages - hardcover, 352
  • published - March 2014
  • publisher - Greenwillow
  • genre - fantasy
  • received via - library :)
  • rating - 5/5
  • series - Death Sworn
    • Death Sworn
    • Death Marked