ARC Review: Death Sworn by Leah Cypess

Death SwornRating: 2.5/5
Series: Death Sworn #1
Genres: Young Adult, High Fantasy, Magic, Assassins
Release Date: March 4th 2014
Publisher: Greenwillow
Source: ARC from Edelweiss
Check out on GOODREADS

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 was a huge let down. When I first started it, I thought I would fall in love. The fantasy fan in me was fangirling and thought she had discovered a YA gem when it came to fantasy.

The problem with this book stems from the fact that essentially nothing happened. This book could have been condensed to a couple of pages for the amount of things that took place. I feel like this book was a set up for the sequel rather than a full fleshed novel. There wasn’t much character development (with reference to Sorin), there were some rather bothersome twists and the plot really didn’t grab my attention the way it should have, perhaps because it took more than a two-thirds of the book for anything substantial to actually happen.

When Ileni was first introduced, I thought I had hit the jackpot yet again with a believable female lead. One who didn’t want to play hero. One who was bitter about how little her life was worth to those who she had looked up to her whole life. I think the one thing I really liked about her character was that she wasn’t a speshul snowflake. She once was, but she was losing her powers now and that made her worthless in the world of Renegai. She had skill but skill did not hold much value with power. Her character did show some development but the problem was that I was detached from her. I did not feel a connection. I read page after page but felt nothing for her until the end. The ending made me really appreciate her character because she is her own person. What everyone else says or believes will not stop her from having doubts. She will not agree to anything without proof. She is strong enough to not let anything influence her own beliefs.

I liked Sorin. I really did. Until the ending. The ending showed me how little he had actually grown. There was no character development on his end and it pissed me off. I thought there was hope for him but I don’t think so anymore. I didn’t want him to undergo a complete personality transplant or to even regret killing people. I just wanted him to be able to think for himself. He can still obey his master AND have his own opinions but it seems as though he is just a pawn. He isn’t an individual, he is just an identity, a puppet. As someone who LOVES assassins, it really is a pity that he wasn’t up to my standards.

The world building was amazing. It really was. Which was why during the first 14% all I could do was fangirl over the brilliance of this book. It’s a shame the world building couldn’t make up for what the characters and plot lacked because otherwise this would have been a 4 star read.

The romance didn’t do much for me either. I actually have no idea how Sorin developed feelings for her. Like what? I only saw it coming because it was inevitable and not because I actually noticed the whole change in their relationship occurring. I am wondering if throwing in a romance in this book was even a good idea. Perhaps it would have been better suited for the sequel and that way there would have been more room for a more substantial plot in this book.

There was nothing going on in this book. There were hints but there wasn’t any real effort put towards finding out who the murderer was. The whole book seemed to focus on Sorin saving Ileni’s ass and their relationship. Oh and let’s not forget Irun trying to kill Ileni. The twist that occurred in the end just.. yeah.  It came out of nowhere and I really don’t understand why the book had to take THAT turn. I suppose it wasn’t impossible to swallow but it did seem a little like the author was just trying to move the book along more than anything else.

The best part of this book was The Master. He is one of the most complex characters I’ve encountered. He isn’t the good guy but he isn’t necessarily the bad guy. What I enjoy most about his character is his ability to manipulate people (of course I hate it when Sorin falls for it every time but that aside). He has this whole plan laid out, one he has probably been working on for YEARS and no one but him understands what he’s doing. In spite of this things always works out, they go smoothly and then the puzzle pieces click. Everything he does is a part of his plan and the organized, plan loving human in me squeals at the shire perfection of how he lays everything out.

I still plan on reading the sequel because I do feel like the author has an interesting writing style and the world she has built really is wonderful. I hope the sequel won’t be nearly as much of a letdown and I’ll finally see some real action.

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Rashika is a mysterious creature who likes to hide in the shadows. It's impossible to get to know her but if you must know, she is a huge bookworm. She also happens to have a huge sweet tooth so you can always lure her over the dark side by offering her something sweet (or bribing her with books).


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