Death Sworn by Leah Cypess
Book One of the Death Sworn series
Publication Date: March 4, 2014
Rating: 4 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
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.
What I Liked:
I've had this book since AUGUST, you all, August 2013. I remember because the ARC came in the mail the day before I moved out of my house and into Johns Hopkins, as a freshman. I was so grateful, because it was the first Harper I received (thank you, Leah!). It's gorgeous, it's fantasy, and I knew I had to have it.
I really enjoyed this book! It's a beautiful start to a new series, and I will be reading the next book(s) in the series. I had not read Leah's other books, but this is a new series. Ileni is a sorceress with dying magic. She is sent (forced to go) to a cave, to train young male assassins. No one knows that her magic is dying. And a threat lies beyond the cave, and Ileni will have to make some decisions about her magic, her duty to her people, and her heart.
This book takes place in the cave I mentioned above - like, the ENTIRE book takes place there. This is a good and bad thing. It is good, because we get a clear sense of the setting of the novel. It's not so good, because that is the ONLY setting we experience. We don't know much about the "outside" world - but we will in the next book (I'm sure).
This book is written in third person limited - limited to Ileni. I really like this, as it is a nice switch from first person. We get Ileni's point-of-view, but also the master of the assassins' point-of-view occasionally (very rarely though). I like Ileni. She is a strong character, and she follows her instinct and her heart, and not always the orders of others.
The other protagonist is Sorin. Sorin is the best (or one of the best) assassins being trained. He is tasked with shadowing and protecting Ileni - which is not an easy job, in a cave of assassins. Sorin is loyal to his master, but as the book goes on, he changes subtly. He becomes conflicted about his loyalties and his duties.
There is a bit of romance between Ileni and Sorin, but it is VERY light. Not much happens between them romantically, but the attraction is present. I hope to see more of the romance in the next book(s), because I am totally rooting for the magic-less sorceress and the deadly, unfeeling assassin.
The world-building in this novel is pretty good! Granted, the entire novel is set in a cave, so we don't know much about the actual world, but I liked the scene that the author set. The attitude of the assassins is brutal, harsh, but filled with honor. Ileni's attitude is passive, soft, yet unyielding. I loved seeing the worlds collide.
I feel like there wasn't too much of a climax in this book - but maybe it was supposed to be subtle for a reason. The book kind of meandered a little, but it was a calculating type of meandering, like a snake lying in the wake, waiting for just the right moment to strike.
As I said before, I really liked this novel, and I definitely will be reading the next book(s) in the series. I hope to see more from the actual world and more from the romance! Otherwise, I think the author did a fantastic job with this awesome fantasy novel.
What I Did Not Like:
I think I mentioned this point quite enough, but I would have liked to experience more from the setting - more than just the cave. Yes, we get to know a lot about life in the cave, and that sets the tone for the novel However, the next book will be set in the outside world (I think), and I would have liked to know more about the outside world. Being in the cave seemed like the world was in a bubble.
And more romance, please! This isn't really a complaint, but I would have liked to see more between Ileni and Sorin. At the moment, it definitely does NOT seem like their style, so I get it. But in the future...
Would I Recommend It:
This is definitely one that fantasy lovers should read! Fantasy is my favorite genre, and I loved this book. I wanted a little more from the book overall, but I'm hoping that the rest of the series will be more fulfilling. There is a hint of romance, but not enough to label this book with the "romance" tag. I would recommend this read to fantasy lovers primarily - I know this one won't be for everyone.
4 stars. I really enjoyed this book, and I definitely will be reading the next book in the series!
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