Edelweiss · Fantasy · High Fantasy · Historical Fantasy · magic · review · Wizards · YA

Death Sworn (Death Sworn #1) by Leah Cypess

13549218Hardcover, 352 pages
Expected publication: March 4th 2014 by Greenwillow
Source: Edelweiss

I have a fondness for Cypess’s writing. I like the way she individuates her characters, creates her setting and the atmosphere in the book. I am not always enamored with the plot of her stories but I am more often than not willing to trust her to guide me to a wondrous resolution. Though I wasn’t too fond of her last offering, Deathsworn worked for me.

The novel is about Ileni, a 17 year old sorceress with considerable knowledge about magic and its uses. She has been sent (or sentenced, depending on who you ask) to take on the role of the tutor to assassins-in-training. The Assassins Guild and Ileni’s people have a deal that they’ll send one of their people to train the student assassins to use their magic powers and in return the assassins won’t kill the peace loving (or lily livered, again depending on who you ask) sorcerers and sorceresses. The great tragedy in Ileni’s life is the gradual disappearance of her innate magic which causes: her fiancé to become an ex and her removal from her home aboveground to the subterranean caves of the assassins. She is also given a mission: find out who killed her predecessors of whom there are two. In the first few pages she meets a boy assassin who is beautiful and as is typical of beautiful assassins, is also a love interest.

There you go, that’s what the story of about. If you will excuse the flippancy, we’ll move on to the review proper.

What I liked about the novel is Ileni, the setting and the ending. As she is the character the story is focalized on, it was imperative for me that I empathize with her and I do. I love that she has a backbone and though her imperfections are many, she is flawed in a way that is interesting instead of infuriating. Her progression as a character is compelling and though sometimes she acts in incomprehensible ways, most of the times I am staunchly on her side.

The love interest is okay though I could have done without him. He certainly did not intrigue me too much. I mean, I liked him but I didn’t love him. There is a villainous character and certain plot movements are utilized to express the student assassins’ dedication to the cause but these movements are discordant because they seem too extreme compared to the rest of the novel. That just may be me though.

The setting figures prominently enough in the story to be called a character in its own right and as I said before, Cypess creates setting extremely well so it was a treat reading about the labyrinthine caves. I loved the ending because it infused the romance with a freshness that is so lacking from lots of the YA novels I have read. The ending was a move in the right direction and convinced me that I want to read the next book because I want to know what Ileni faces in her journey to discover herself.

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