Title: Death Sworn by Leah Cypess
Published by: Greenwillow
Release date: March 4th, 2014
Source: ARC (Netgalley)
Age group: Young adult
Grade rate: B+
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.
I believe that fantasy is quickly becoming one of my favorite genres. Death Sworn was very eye-catching to me, both for its beautiful cover and for the synopsis. It definitely didn’t disappoint.
Ileni was an unexpected protagonist. When she arrives to the caves to be the assassins’ teacher she is quite resigned to her fate. She hopes to be useful to the Elders and expects to die very soon. A woman that is rapidly losing her magic in a cave full of male assassins couldn’t last long, right? Even though she kept thinking the worst about everyone around her (and some did deserve it!), and kept expecting to die, she fought with all she had not to. That, I have to admire. She thought herself to be incapable of any wrongdoing, but in the end, survival weighted more. I was also very surprised that she didn’t take the opportunity of getting power. She isn’t perfect. On the contrary, she is perpetually, sad, angry or scared, but she is a woman of action.
Sorin is another mystery. His true origin is unknown (to us, at least). He’s really good at being an assassin, but he is also fair and gentle. He is a bit mysterious and very complex; I can’t wait to know him better. Ileni, let me give you some advice: Tellis is not even worth your time, so please concentrate on Sorin, ‘kay?
The characterization is overall, really good. Cypess has created characters that are very complicated and two-faced. What I mean is that there are no absolutes, most characters are both good and bad. However, Irun and the Assassin’s Master and beyond creepy!
One of the most important components of a fantasy book it’s world building. As far as I’m concerned the more world building the better; not only do I want to be told about this new world, but I want to experience it as well. Death Sworn has a fascinating backdrop, and we are told all the time what goes on outside the walls of the caves and a lot of history, but we don’t get to experience it. I honestly didn’t care too much for the setting because I personally wouldn’t be able to last a week living inside a cave! The writing is really good and it flows nicely. The plot is amazing, full of twist and turns that I didn’t see coming at all.
The ending was a cliffhanger if ever saw one. Since Ileni left quite abruptly to go to the Empire, I assume that she will find some answers, make the right decisions, and find Sorin (*pretty please… makes puppy eyes*) I cannot wait to read the conclusion of the Death Sworn duology!
Some quotes for you:
“Ileni found herself sitting on the floor with her back against the bed, arms wrapped around her body, feeling as if something inside her had frozen and cracked. She had been so loved, once. She hadn’t even realized how lucky she was, to be the center of someone’s world, to have someone who would always be there. And now she was alone, a helpless girl in a labyrinth of caves, surrounded by people who would kill her at a word.”
“Do you truly think all the people you kill deserve to die?
“That would be an easier belief, wouldn’t it?” Sori’s face was remote. “But no…We face the truth, Sorceress: Not that they deserve to die. But that their deaths serve a greater purpose.”
About the cover: I love the cover. It's mysterious and I like the contrast of dark and light. I think this is the tower that raises over the caves, home of the assassins.