{Review} DEATH SWORN by Leah Cypess

Last week, I participated in Leah's blog tour with a post on the 
Top 10 Assassin Novels You Should Be Reading 
(According to me, anyway!).

Check out my review of NIGHTSPELL
the companion novel to Leah Cypess' 
previous world seen in MISTWOOD!

Right now, you can buy e-book copies of 

MISTWOOD for $1.99 
NIGHTSPELL for $4.99.

What a great deal!!! 

Be sure to also take a look at a guest post 
from Leah Cypess on Fairy Tale Retellings!

O P E N I N G   H O O K:

THE FIRST STEP SHOULD HAVE BEEN the hardest. The cave entrance angled so sharply that one step was all it took: plunging her from light to darkness, from the fresh scent of snow to the smell of must earth, from the touch of the breeze to the weight of dank stone. Ileni stopped for a moment, and not only to allow her eyes to adjust. Melted snow trickled down her hair and dripped on the back of her neck, and her skin was chapped by the wind, but inside the entrance to the Assassins' Caves, the air was dry and still. She could hear the slow drip of snow melting off rocks, but with her next few steps, she would leave snow and wind--and sunlight, and falling leaves, and everything she had ever known--behind her forever.

(Page 1, US hardcover edition)
Read the first 70 pages online now FOR FREE!

Mystery! Magic! Intrigue! Assassins!

This type of fantasy always grabs my attention from the get-go, how about you? I've wanted to get my hands on DEATH SWORN by Leah Cypess since it was first announced.  1) I've really enjoyed her prior novels.  2) Um,  assassins.

Ileni is a Renegai, and one with some of the most magical promise anyone has ever seen. At least, she was. Now, she's losing the magic she's always taken for granted and told her upbringing was all a mistake.  She's sent to tutor a bunch of assassins in the art of magic,  part of a long-term agreement with the Master of assassins. Both the Renegai and the assassins are renegades being hunted by the Rathian Empire. Ileni is resigned to her new station in life. The two tutors before her are both dead,  possibly murdered. She could be next. An assassin named Sorin is assigned to be her protector,  and together, they set out to solve the mtstery revolving around who is killing the Renegai tutors.

You would think that being the only female in a cave full of male assassins would make for a harem-like situation with every guy in the vicinity falling all over our heroine. Thankfully,  DEATH SWORN is unlike its teen siblings in this way.  Ileni isn't the girl everyone fawns all over. There aren't instances of insta-love or love triangles/squares/etc. every time you turn around.  Thank goodness!  Instead, Cypess focuses on the slow burn. If you've read her prior novels, you'll know that romance is secondary to the story. First and foremost,  Cypess focuses on the fantasy. Doing so makes it easy to recommend her books to both younger teens and people who are sick of the "super romancey" fantasy novels out there.  That isn't to say there's not romance, because there is. It works, too. Neither Ileni nor Soran trusts easily,  so their guards are lowered as they slowly begin to trust one another.

DEATH SWORN is full of interesting characters. Ileni stands out as being unlike so many other YA heroines out there.  She accepts her fate and doesn't try to change it, but tries to makes things safer for the next person in her situation.  She is capable of making her own decisions and won't be cowed,  even when surrounded by highly-trained killers. This packs a great punch at the finale. Sorin has flickers of growth here and there. That's s lot more going on beneath the surface than what we see.  I don't believe he's as brainwashed as we've been led to believe. I have a theory, and hope to see it come to fruition next year with the duology's conclusion. I also found the Master of assassins to be an intriguing character,  though things always seem to go a little too perfectly for him.

The world-building is lovely, as I've come to expect from Cypess, and I'm looking forward to seeing how Ileni shapes her own destiny next year! 
C O V E R   D E S I G N:

The framing is really, really awesome. You can see more of the detail when you open the book up and look at its gorgeous title page.

Within the frame, there's a mysterious tower rising into the air, and birds are fleeing.

The colors lend a mysterious air to the cover, too. Regal around the edges at the frame, and the image within warring between the sickly colors of the sky and the freeing colors of the land.

Each new chapter looks like this:

When books have fancy artwork, it makes me shiver and do a happy dance. How about you? I'm so glad Greenwillow did this for DEATH SWORN. It feels so much more epic this way!

This interior image also reminds me of the artwork on the spine and back of the dust jacket.
O F F I C I A   I N F O:

Author: Leah Cypess
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Greenwillow Books / HarperCollins
Received: For Review (ALA Copy and Edelweiss e-ARC)
Read my purchased finished copy

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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