Sunday, February 23, 2014

Review: Death Sworn by Leah Cypess

Title: Death Sworn
Author: Leah Cypess
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Source: Greenwillow Books via Edelweiss

Goodreads rating: 3.76 out of 5.00 (240+ ratings)
Goodreads | The Reading Room

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.
Review by Nara

In order to end on a more positive note, I'll start off with the negative aspects of the book; the biggest of which is to do with the world building. There's a complete lack of world building, and this is probably the main reason this book gets four stars rather than five. I'm a big world building reader, so if a book has crappy world building, it isn't very likely to get five stars from me unless the other aspects are seriously compelling, which wasn't quite the case with this book. There are a few references to other settings in the world of the book- the Empire, the land where Ileni's people live (I can't even remember the name of that place...) but there's pretty much no development of those aspects of the world at all. I suppose this is the first book in the series, so it's possible that everything will be explained properly in subsequent books. I do have to admit that the book was very focused on Ileni and her immediate survival- so that perhaps explains the lack of world building. Doesn't necessarily mean I liked it though.

Of course, I wouldn't have given the book four stars if there weren't some other interesting aspects of the book. One of which was the romance. It definitely wasn't instalove, but there was kind of a sense of it being a romance of convenience. Ileni is the only girl in the assassin compound, and the only person there who protects her or even acts like he's sort of on her side is Sorin (even if it is because he has orders to do so), and so he's almost a love interest by default. Like, would you rather pick the fifty other hostile, deadly assassins or the one less hostile but still deadly assassin? haha. Still, I did quite like it overall. If you like slow burning romances, I think you'll probably like this one (despite the feeling of it being a leeeetle bit too convenient). By the way, I am quite sure that the previous love interest referenced in the blurb as "the man she expected to spend her life with" (whose name I have momentarily forgotten lol) will turn up in later books and FREAKING RUIN EVERYTHING. I will flip a desk when if that happens.

I really loved the protagonist. She was exactly the strong female lead needed in this story- lost all her magic? No problem, she uses the few dregs she has left to do a lot of useful things. Lost the man she expected to spend her life with? Whatever, she got a new love interest, bro. Lost her "purpose in life"? That's okay! She creates a new, much more compelling, much more useful role for herself. I wouldn't say that she's badass (although there are a couple of epic moments in the book where you can't help but fistpump at what she does), but she's pretty clever and somewhat opportunistic. See? She's such an awesome character!

If you like character oriented high fantasies, I definitely recommend this book! If you're a person who doesn't like books with little world building, I'd still recommend this book! There are so many other interesting aspects which can grab and keep your attention.

Liked it

Overall: 8/10
Plot: 4/5
Writing: 4/5
Characters: 4/5
Cover: 5/5