Title: Death Sworn
Author: Leah Cypess
Series: Death Sworn
Book #: 1
Reading Level: YA
Goodreads Rating: 3.70
Published: March 4th, 2014
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 is the story of a girl who used to be all powerful, until suddenly she was not. It is the story of a rebellion, it's a story about choices and sacrifices, obedience and temptation, even addiction. It explores the blurry lines between good and evil and how our choices come along with consequences we might not expect. Most of all it is the story of two crazy kids trying to survive in a world where all the odds are stacked against them, where puppeteers play with their lives in the shadows and they don't know if today may be their last. It is a pretty engrossing story, though a little weak on the world building but that didn't stop me from enjoin myself in the least.
In the very first few sentences of the book we are introduced to Ileni, a girl who used to have a purpose in life. She was supposed to be the most powerful magic wielder of her age until she discovered that she was running out of fuel. While she was stripped of her title and everything she was, and sent on a death mission, this didn't do anything to deter the will of Ileni. In fact, it kind of made her more reckless and willing to do just about anything. It made her daring. Which is why when she is sent to the assassin's cave to train their pupils in the arts of magic she is able to go inside their dark caves with a straight spine. She has nothing going for her, so bring it on.
In the caves she meets Sorin, an assassin who is tasked to take care of her. Sorin is a bit of a wild spirit. He follows his Master's directions to a "T" but he also has his small rebellions. Overall these two characters are unlike many others in the YA verse. Ileni is kind of like not caring what happens to her so she takes chances and pretty much plays with her life. I want to get to see more of Sorin next book, I want to see who he is when he is not bound by his Masters's rules or plans.
I liked Ileni's character. I liked how in the caves she was able to explore parts of herself she wouldn't have dared to in the outside world. By being confined in the caves she became freer than ever. By the end of the novel she changes in many ways, a lot of character development. She definitely found her edge, and she is well in the way to discovering her truth and purpose.
The world building in the title was okay. Nothing special, yet not terrible either. The entire novel is set in a cave, beginning to end. The cave itself was a character. The cave seems to be huge, mysterious, and has all these passages where you can get lost. I can't wait to read the next novel though because even from inside the cave you get glimpses of what it is to be in the outside world and it sounds like a pretty terrific place. We just have to wait for the second book in order to explore it. But from inside the caves you get the gossip and glimpses (background story). The assassin's are trying to take down the local evil government brick by brick, the good mages (where Ileni comes from) are sitting on their asses while the bad mages turn the world upside down.
What picked my interest the most about Death Sworn was the classes of mages and the way magic was handled. It seems that some mages got to keep their magic while others' just dwindled and died. Why is this? why would some have inherent magic while others lost it along the way? I guess this can relate to how some people can be creative but then start losing it as they grow up, life beats it out of you.
Overall interesting title and concept. The writing was seamless and keeps you glued to the page. The romance has an edge of danger and self awareness to it that made you want to explore it further. It is a good start to the series, I just hope we get more battles and magic in the coming titles. Plus, more world building. As a beginning title Death Sworn is worth your time.