ARC Book Review: Death Sworn by Leah Cypess

Posted February 26, 2014 by Debby in Book Reviews

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.

ARC Book Review: Death Sworn by Leah CypessDeath Sworn by Leah Cypess
Series: Death Sworn #1
Published by Greenwillow Books on March 4th, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, High Fantasy, Young Adult
Pages: 352
Format: eARC
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.

2 Stars

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.

Summing Up:

While it started off mildly entertaining, this book never managed to impress me. With cardboard characters, a feels-less romance, a pointless love triangle, and ultra convenient plot, it’s not a book I would really recommend. Usually I’m all for magic and assassins but… not like this. I’m not even angry. I’m just bored.

GIF it to me straight!


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5 responses to “ARC Book Review: Death Sworn by Leah Cypess

  1. I ended up giving this book 3 stars, because it was okay. Like you said, there is nothing too special about this book. The characters are mweh, the romance is not good, the world-building is so/so. But in the end, I still kinda liked it, haha. There was something about the story that made me interested for the next book 🙂 I hope to see more kick-ass action scenes and assassinations in the next one.

  2. Well, this certainly makes me sad, and a wee bit wary! DEATH SWORN seriously sounded so good in theory, with elements that I could definitely like. I’m sad to hear that it missed the mark with you.

  3. Sad to hear that it wasn’t as good as it sounds! I still have this one and hopefully will give it a try and see if I’d like it more than you did.
    Thanks for your very honest review, Debby!