Review: Death Sworn by Leah Cypess

Posted May 15th, 2014 in book review / 34 comments


Death Sworn Series #1

by Leah Cypess

Publisher: Greenwillow (March 2014)
Genre: Fantasy/High Fantasy, Young Adult
Format: Hardcover ARC (352 pages)
Source: Free book from publishing for honest review
Find It: Goodreads | Amazon | Barnes & Noble | Book Depository
Rating: ★★★½☆ (3.5 stars)

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.

At A Glance
Gotta love the scary assassin cave and dark world, but the characters and romance were meh.

The Good
This was a pretty badass assassin book. These assassins are in no way redeemable. They have learned to not care, not feel pain, and never hesitate to murder someone right from childhood. All they know is the Master knows all, he knows best, and he is law. It’s like an assassin cult. Creepy, right? And Ileni is thrown into this world of killers, and her only defense, magic, is fading. No fair!

Ileni was pretty kickass and brave throughout the whole novel. I couldn’t imagine having magic all my life and then it fading. And then being forced to live in a cave kingdom of assassins. Effing bonkers! Ileni did good though. She had a lot of bluster and words to hide behind, faking her way enough to look somewhat threatening. She was also not as afraid of death as most people are, so she took dangerous risks that often paid off in the end. And bonus, she got away with not getting stabbed a whole bunch of times. Yay!

There were many plotlines that all beautifully interwove in some way: Ileni’s magic fading, the mystery behind the sorcerers deaths, evil kingdoms to dismantle, Ileni doing the nasty with an assassin. 😀 But it was the sinister world and dark tone that really kept me reading. I never felt safe while reading this book, and I loved that. I am very interested to read the next book in the series. I want to see the world outside the cave. I want to see what Ileni plans to do after all those big reveals near the end. The ending could have been better, but I was still shocked by what happened and what might happen in the future. 

The Bad
My biggest problem with Death Sworn was that I didn’t connect with the characters all that much. Unfortunately, Ileni and Sorin were one-dimensional. They had one purpose and they never deterred from that purpose, no matter how stupid it was. Sorin was worse though. He was suppose to be the love interest and I never, ever liked him. He is just not a good person anymore. He is too far gone.

Even though I loved the dark, unrelenting world these characters lived in, we only got to see and hear about a small part of it. I mean, the whole book is set in a huge ass cave world. I wanted to see more of the outside, learn more about evil Empire.

It was also slow in some parts.

The Snuggly
Since Sorin was not my cup of tea, the romance wasn’t my favorite part. And I think these two had sex but I really don’t know. It was so ambiguous and confusing. If they did have sex, don’t worry, we only see a little kissing, that’s it. Good for a YA audience. Though I think everybody would like to see more passion and an emotional connection between these two.

Final Thoughts
Definitely not perfect. A total bummer that I didn’t really connect with the characters or the romance, but the interesting plotlines and dark feel of the novel made it worth the read. I can’t wait for book #2. Recommended.

“Every person we assassinate dies to serve a greater purpose.”
“I’m sure they would be happy if they knew it,” Ileni said sarcastically, but her voice sounded weak even to her. “If you would explain it to them, perhaps they would volunteer for your knives.”  

“It’s not hard to kill,” Ileni said softly, as if discovering it all over again. “Not if you hate someone. It’s so very easy.”
But it shouldn’t be.”  

That was why he had gone after Bazel. To give her a chance to escape.
The door to her prison had been wide open, and she had turned away.
Ileni felt her lips twist as she gave him the truth, knowing he wouldn’t believe it. “I was sent here for a reason. I won’t leave until I find out who killed Absalm and Cadrel.”
Something passed swiftly over his face, something that wasn’t disbelief, before it went blank again. “Or until you become the next victim?”
She turned away from him. “Or that.”

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34 Responses to “Review: Death Sworn by Leah Cypess”

  1. Istyriabookblog

    Hmm, this one sounds so awesome at first, but the reviews so far are meh. If I ever get a copy (not purchased) somehow, I’ll read it, but I’m not going to buy it because it doesn’t seem like it’s really worth it. Great review Jennifer!

  2. Ashley

    That sucks about the characters. :/ If I can’t connect with the characters, I rarely enjoy the book.. at least no more than 3 stars. I think I’ll skip this one! Thanks for the review.

  3. Melanie

    It’s a shame that you didn’t connect with the characters as much as you hoped 😐 But it does still look like a really enjoyable read. I have it on my kindle so I will probably give it a go later this year.

    Lovely review! <33

  4. Jessica Haluska

    Yeah, I’ve heard that the characters in this book are hard to connect with, and that’s really disappointing b/c ASSASSINS. Remorseless assassins at that. I’m not going to totally write it off (again b/c assassins), but I’m going to wait to see how the next book goes. Hopefully it will go better than this one did . . .

    Jessica @ Rabid Reads

  5. Carmel @ Rabid Reads

    I recently read another book that had the same problem; great world-building, but I just couldn’t connect with the main heroine. It’s hard when you don’t like the MC… Thanks for the honest review!

  6. Jenea Whittington

    Awe, I have a copy of this one, and I was hoping that it would be really good. I’ll get around to reading it, the reviews have been blah so far. 🙁 I’m glad that you still enjoyed it though.

  7. Braine TS

    I love assassins and the premise for this sounds superb, very epic but at the same time it should be character driven too based on your feedback. It’s a bummer when an epic story doesn’t have epic characters, hopefully book two will be better

  8. Brandi Kosiner

    I will probably skip this one if it is hard to connect with characters and romance because those the the things that really get me in

  9. Livia @ Butterfly-o-Meter Books

    The merciless hardcore assassins sounds creepily awesome, but if you didn’t connect with the characters I have a sinking suspicion I won’t either. And confusing romance between characters I might not connect with is even worse. And yet, assassins…so torn here, lol!

  10. Christy @ Love of Books

    I do love assassins, but the fact that it’s high fantasy kind of turns me off. Those are hard enough for me to get through, then to add in characters you don’t connect with. Meh.

  11. Sharon ObsessionwithBooks

    The premise for this sounds fantastic so it’s a shame you weren’t able to connect with the characters, I think you need this to connect with the story as a whole – bummer about the romance as well.

    A wonderful review.

  12. Micheline D

    That was pretty much my main issue with this one: I simply did not connect with the characters. Like, at all. You said it best: they were one dimensional. And Sorin was indeed worst so considering he was the love interest, it tainted my enjoyment of the romance and the entire book. I also agree that it was quite slow in some places too. I hope the sequel will improve on these things…Lovely review ^^

    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews

  13. Lily B

    ew one dimensional characters and a really bad love interest? Nothing kills a book faster for me, outside of love triangles

  14. elisa

    hhhmm, sounds good, I like the dark and assassin stuff, but not connecting with characters makes it tough. jury is out on this one, great review! 🙂

  15. Bookworm Brandee

    It’s a shame the author missed the mark on creating a connection to the characters for you, Jennifer. Because it sounds pretty good otherwise. Great review!

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