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{April 20, 2014}   {Review} Death Sworn by Leah Cypress

Death SwornFrom 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.

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Unfortunately, I found this novel to be rather anticlimactic on a number of levels.  First, I did not connect with any of the characters. Not stubborn Sorin, resigned Ileni, nor any other assassin in the novel.  While I usually adore novels about assassins, there just wasn’t much in terms of assassinations to keep my interest in this novel. Now, the entire novel takes place inside a cave, so assassinations would be hard to carry out amongst the assassin clan, but even so, I excepted there to be more battles, more angst (Ileni is the only female in the compound, afterall), and more of a plot itself.

Instead, I found Ileni to be too much of a needy young woman to do any worth while, and as the plot revolves around her, not much happens.  She has been sent to the caves to find out the truth behind the murders of the sorcery teachers that came before her, but even that mystery is only lightly probed.  Little magis is spun, and though Ileni is losing her magi, resigned to her death, and overall quite depressing, I expected a lot more action and magic to take place as I read.

As the story stands, I still don’t know much about the Empire aside from their repressive state, and the assassins are chosen to try and stop them.  And that’s about all I know from this segment.  I realize that it’s the first in the series, and that book two will definitely probe more into the life of the Empire, but knowing very little at this time has made it difficult for me to really care about an upcoming sequel a year or so away.

Likewise, for knowing very little about the Empire and the assassins, I found that some of the events in the plot were a little too far-fetched; too easily overcome.  For one, Ileni is a lost little girl scared of everything, though she tried to put on a good front, and yet near the end too many events she struggled with throughout the entire novel happened much too easily. I can’t say much in terms of these events without spoilers, so I’ll leave you with this: Ileni does two things that should have been near impossible, and she meets no resistance in either, and yet they are hugely impactful to the story.  Instead of a reprimand, she easily saunters away from each, which I personally found unbelievable and anticlimactic as a reader.

2 stars

In exchange for an honest review, I received this novel from the publisher during NCTE 2013.

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