Sunday 6 April 2014

Death Sworn by Leah Cypess (Death Sworn #1)

Genres: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Romance
My Rating: 4 out of 5


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.


This book was intense and had me on the edge of my seat the whole time! It is high fantasy, but it isn't what you probably expect when you hear those words. It was pure intrigue. The entire novel is set in the caves and tunnels inhabited by assassins. Ileni is sent by the Renegai Sorcerers to tutor the assassins in magic. But while she is there she uncovers conspiracies and faces life-threatening challenges at every turn. And she discovers that she has a bigger part in it all than she could have ever imagined.

This book really kept me guessing and never let me get comfortable. You never know who to trust. I loved Ileni. She was a strong heroine. Despite her fading powers, she kept investigating and throwing herself into danger, heedless of the threats to her life. She was smart too, never letting the assassins intimidate her into giving up. She knew she had the mental capacity to unravel what was happening around her.

And she never even fully trusted Sorin. I enjoyed the complexities of their relationship. Sorin was loyal to the Master, and Ileni knew it. She may have loved him, but she never made herself fully vulnerable to him. She never let her guard down. Its not the kind of romance you usually find in YA novels. The all-encompassing passion, and the willingness to give up everything for the person you love. Not Ileni and Sorin.

It may be possible to win Ileni over by the cause of the assassins. But its the Master that the assassins put their faith in 100%, not their cause. Ileni would sacrifice herself for what she believes in, but she would never blindly put her life in someone else's hands. She will fight and die on her own terms. And that might be what happens in the next book, as Ileni leaves the caves and goes to discover for herself if the cause is worth dying for. 

I would love it if in book 2 Ileni proves to the assassins, or at least Sorin, that she could be an even better leader than the Master. I don't think I would even mind if this series doesn't have an HEA. Its so dark and uncomfortable that its a valid possibility. But I hope for at least some unity of action between Ileni and Sorin. And I would love to see Sorin sacrifice something for Ileni. Even something small. It doesn't have to be his beliefs or his life. Just anything, to show that she has changed him. That she had an impact on his previously ordered life.

“It's not hard to kill," Ileni said softly, as if discovering it all over again. "Not if you hate someone. It's so very easy."

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