I received this book for free from Publisher via Edelweiss in exchange for an honest review. Thank you!! This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.Death Sworn by Leah Cypess
Series: Death Sworn #1
Published by Greenwillow Books on March 4th, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Young Adult
Source: Publisher via Edelweiss
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.
Death Sworn, oh Death Sworn, with your awesome blurb, I thought this was bound to go well. You reminded me of The Burning Sky, which was one of my favorite reads from last year. But sadly, it just didn’t work out, at all. The prevailing emotion felt during our time together was, sadly, boredom. I ended up surprise buddy reading this one together with Christina, so it’s going to be no surprise that our reviews are rather similar. We were, unfortunately for Death Sworn, in full agreement.
The plot kicks off with Ileni becoming the magic teacher to the Assassins “guild”. Right from the start, I felt rather bored. Ileni lacks a personality to me. She was kind of grumpy, but that was about it. It was a simple main character in a simple plot. I missed complexity and emotion. (It doesn’t help that this was the first book I read after Ignite Me, which can be dubbed the most feelsy book on the planet.) Ileni is tasked with a secret mission to find out who has been killing off the previous teachers that her sorcerer group has sent over.
Within hours of getting there, Ileni meets Sorin and already tells him what she’s investigating. …Her “secret” mission. He’s an assassin who is presumably brainwashed to do whatever the master tells him and to keep no secrets from him. But whatever. It’s a little thing that I’d like to call “instatrust” and I hate it in books. It’s just.. no. A day or so after that, Sorin already tells Ileni his super personal and dark back story. Guys. Ugh. No. There was no build up or probable cause to this trustworthy relationship. You’re trying to build a book of suspicion but then instantly contradict that.
Sorin also has rather no personality to speak of, but Ileni is of course charmed by his good looks. We all know where it’s going, though apparently Ileni is still in mourning over her last relationship with Tellis. You never meet this Tellis, but Ileni will tell you at almost any occasion how much she misses him and how perfect he was. No concrete details. Just telling, no showing. It didn’t impress me or get to me emotionally. It felt like the author was trying to interject a really odd love triangle, where one side wasn’t even present. It was really annoying.
But fine, so Ileni and Sorin are “drawn” to each other, but even there I didn’t feel the chemistry for one second. Then the actual romance happens. And… I just can’t even. While Sorin was self-aware about the nature of his feelings for her, and how it may not be real exactly, he pretty much tells Ileni she’s stupid. And she’s fine with that. They have their moment, for which I have no facial expression at all, because I was still bored, as with the rest of this book, and then it actually fades to black, skipping the actual kissing and heavy romantic bits. Because, I mean, why on earth would young adult readers want a heavy dose of FEELS? Maybe the author knew she couldn’t pull it off. I dunno. After that, Ileni reflects that “they went pretty far” and already she “feels the pang of his absence” when they’re apart for a couple hours. …I have no words.
So you’d think then, fine, this book isn’t romance-centric, but the plot’s gotta pack a punch then. Not… really. While the world they live in is interesting, we barely get to see any of it. Just some poor hints about the Empire that is corrupt and rules with an iron fist (hi Star Wars feels), the sorcerers who live in hiding, the assassins who are trained as mercenaries and want to bring the Empire down, and the magic. You kind of have to fill in the blanks yourself though, and a lot of it is left in the dark.
The plot itself became disjointed, convenient, and simple. After being raised her whole life as a peace-loving sorceress, Ileni suddenly has no problems becoming a murderer. She was weak, but suddenly becomes strong. She almost dies but (sadly) doesn’t because of her auto-healing abilities. Then the antagonist is revealed. And suddenly a whole bunch of people apparently knew about him and everything. The ending was just a disastrous blur and made no sense to me at all.