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Sorcery and Assassins: A Review of DEATH SWORN by Leah Cypess – Plus Giveaway

Posted by on February 24, 2014

Leah Cypess
352 pages
Publisher: HarperTeen
Release Date: March 4th, 2014
Source: ARC from Publisher

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.

Ileni’s magic is fading. Once, she was said to be the greatest sorceress in all of Renegai, but now she’s looked down on by her people. So when she’s sent to train a bunch of assassins, she accepts, to prove that she’s not worthless. Or be at a place where nobody will pity her. But right now, her problem isn’t just about her magic, because the last two trainers died in the same cave not that long ago. And for all she knows, Ileni could be next.

From page one, we’re thrust into a world of magic, danger, and assassins. DEATH SWORN is a well-written start to a fantasy series that is bound to leave you breathless and begging for more.

Leah Cypess doesn’t start with a slow beginning that fills us in on the details, rather, she masterfully weaves it into the story as we’re pushed along Ileni’s story. The imagery was vivid, the characters dark and mysterious, and the reason behind the deaths kept me guessing through out the book. Of course, I didn’t even suspect who it was and until Ileni figured it out.

Ileni was a character that I fell in love with quickly, because even while suffering under her pain and anger, she defied the norm and wasn’t a depressed weakling that needs others to help her. She’s more of the “get out of my way” type of character who takes matters into her own hands. Of course, when you’re in a cave full of assassins you can’t be soft. Sorin—an assassin tasked with protecting her—was pretty cool too, but I disliked how highly he and all the other assassins thought of their master.

The master. Now he was one mysterious and confusing character that I will never understand. With his endless reasons, hidden agenda, and overflowing knowledge—he’s a character you won’t find in your everyday YA novel. I’ll just leave it at that.

Have I mentioned that there are assassins? That are amazingly awesome? (Yes, I have come to realize awesome is my favorite word.)

If assassins, magic, and sorcery is your thing, Leah Cypess’s latest is for you. It was well-written, kept me hooked throughout, and the whodunnit theme was an added bonus that kept me guessing through out.

And now I shall add another book to my growing list of need-to-read sequels. Happy sigh.

About the Author

I wrote my first story in first grade. The narrator was an ice-cream cone in the process of being eaten. In fourth grade, I wrote my first book, about a girl who gets shipwrecked on a desert island with her faithful and heroic dog (a rip-off of both The Black Stallion and all the Lassie movies, very impressive).

However, I took a few detours along the way to becoming a full-time writer. After selling my first story (Temple of Stone) while in high school, I gave in to my mother’s importuning to be practical and majored in biology at Brooklyn College. I then went to Columbia Law School and practiced law for almost two years at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, a large law firm in New York City. I kept writing and submitting in my spare time, and finally, a mere 15 years after my first short story acceptance, I am going to be a published novelist. I am very excited about this!

I live in Brookline, Massachusetts (right outside of Boston) with my husband Aaron, a researcher and doctor at the Joslin Diabetes Center, and our two daughters.

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  1. Ooooohhhhh this one sounds really really good! Assassins, magic and sorcery is most definitely my kind of thing. ;) Looks like I’llbe adding this one to my to-read pile! Awesome review. :D

  2. I’m glad you liked this one as I’ve been seeing it around. And Ileni sounds like a pretty awesome heroine–I hope to love her as much as you did when I read this! :)

  3. I haven’t read it yet! But I want to!! I really enjoy Leah writing style. I’ve been looking forward to reading this for months!!

  4. I really like the sound of DEATH SWORN and its world of magic, danger, and assassins! Yes please. It’s great when the book can simply take off from page one. I’m looking forward to checking this fantasy series out. Wonderful review, Asma :)

  5. I am reading Death Sworn right now and LOVING it. I’m a little over 50% of he way through, and these characters are so nuanced and complex. I love Illeni and Sorin, even though I don’t like them sometimes. They feel like real people. Can’t wait to see how this ends!

  6. I have not read it but I am DYING to, seriously. You have a lot of amazing giveaways and amazing books featured on your blog, but this one tops my list. I love the cover and I am a sucker for a good book about magic. The only thing about reading it now that scares me is having to wait so long for the sequel!! Thanks for another great giveaway!

  7. I haven’t read Death Sworn yet but I did read an excerpt on another blog and it was pretty cool. I’d really like to win it. Thanks.

  8. I agree completely! I absolutely loved Ileni’s narration and the assassins in this novel were the perfect blend of deadly and mysterious. Plus, the romance? SWOON. I especially liked the fact that so many moral questions about the validity of death and purpose of it were brought up in this novel. While I could have done with more world-building, I can’t wait for the sequel! Lovely review, dear! :)

  9. I have not read Death Sworn yet but I really really want to get my hands on it and read it because I heard great reviews about it plus it sounds right up my alley! thanks for the awesome giveaway!

  10. HECK YES I WANT TO READ DEATH SWORN! I have been wanting to read this book for a while it sounds AMAZING! Thank you for the giveaway! :)

  11. All these assassin books that have been coming out lately have me so excited for the fantasy genre. Can’t wait to read!

  12. I haven’t read this one but I really want too! That’s why my fingers are crossed in hopes of winning this awesome giveaway!!!! ;) I believe I even tried to get approved at Netgalley for this book but sadly I got denied! I’m still a beginner in the blogging world and really new with NetG!
    Anyway Thanks for the opportunity to win :)
    Book Hangovers Blabs Books xoxo ♥

  13. YES! I want to read Death Sworn. From the amazing cover to the intriguing, magical blurb, I am completely hooked. I really hope to get the chance to read it soon! Thank you so much for the giveaway!

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