Author: Leah Cypess
Genre: Young Adult, High Fantasy
Source: Greenwillow via Edelweiss
A young sorceress’s entire life has been shaped to destroy the empire controlling her world. But if everything she knows is a lie, will she even want to fulfill her destiny? The sequel to Death Sworn is just as full of magic and surprising revelations, and will thrill fans of Leigh Bardugo and Robin LaFevers.Review by Nara
At seventeen, Ileni lost her magical power and was exiled to the hidden caves of the assassins. She never thought she would survive long. But she discovered she was always meant to end up, powerless, in the caves as part of an elder sorcerer’s plan to destroy the evil Empire they'd battled so long. Except that Ileni is not an assassin, and she doesn't want to be a weapon. And, after everything, she’s not even sure she knows the truth. Now, at the very heart of the Empire—its academy for sorcerers—the truth is what she seeks. What she finds challenges every belief she holds dear—and it threatens her fledgling romance with the young master of assassins.
Leah Cypess spins an intricate and beautiful conclusion to Ileni's story. In the end, it may not be the epic decisions that bring down an empire, but the small ones that pierce the heart.
The first thing I really got from starting Death Marked was dang, I have a terrible memory. Unfortunately, having found Death Sworn an average sort of read, I could hardly remember anything from that book. Which made it very difficult to empathise with any of the characters in Death Marked since I couldn't remember who any of them were. And I was confused about one thing or another for maybe the first third of the book because I wasn't sure why any of the characters were in the situations they were. Of course as I read on, I remembered some bits and pieces, and I ended up quite enjoying the last half of the book.
The main reason I wanted to continue with this duology was because I thought that the world building would improve. In Book One, Ileni is confined to the well hidden assassin caves, which therefore means that the limited world building makes sense. But in this book, despite the fact that she's out of those caves, the world building is still quite limited, with the story being a lot more character-oriented than anything else. Which I guess was okay because the main character Ileni was well developed enough to keep you somewhat interested.
The romance is okay, I suppose. I feel like it's really put to the side in this novel, which normally in any other book I would have been okay with, but with the lack of romance in this one, there wasn't really anything else more interesting to fall back on. The political intrigue and magic development side of things was pretty generic, and the "taking down of the empire" side of things was a bit interesting, but not something that had me on the edge of my seat.
Well, I did like Death Marked overall, but as is pretty obvious from this review, it's a very mediocre read, in terms of it not really being anything fresh or exciting in the world of young adult high fantasy. Not sure I'd recommend it unless you've hardly read any high fantasy at all and therefore won't compare this books to other more well rounded works.
World Building: 2/5