Death Sworn (Death Sworn #1) - Leah Cypress
I read this book for my 2014 Book Genre Challenge. The month of April was fantasy. Next month, steampunk!
Rating | ★★★★☆
I was hunting around for some good fantasy and I stumbled across this. Well, it looked fantastic. Magic, assassins, secret plots, mysterious deaths, and romance. It was like everything I wanted had been wrapped up in 352 pages. Or so I thought.
It was definitely a good book, but it didn’t meet all my expectations. While I was expecting high magic and crazy spells, most of it wasn’t well explained. Plus she was losing her magic anyway, so there was no background on the magical arts. Then the world building consisted of…a cave. Literally, the entire book takes place in a set of caves. Ugh, in a world with “Renegai” and an entire empire to topple, why did most of it take place in caves? Finally, why does the empire need to be overthrown? Who are the Elders that sent Ileni. WHAT IS HAPPENING? Honestly, most of the time I had nothing more than a vague idea of what was going on outside the caves.
The other aspects of the book I enjoyed for the most part. Ileni was refreshing. She was very bitter and treated her death as inevitable. She was clearly once a very talented sorceress, but her magic started waning leaving her almost indifferent to her fate. I liked how real she was, no one would be okay with losing such an integral part of their identity, and neither was she. She lashed out pretty often, questioned authority constantly, and often berated herself for mistakes. Just like all people.
Her guard, and eventual romantic interest was….(hmm, how do I put this gently?) He was boring. Oh yeah. Sorin had no personality. I didn’t even get the “rebellious, bad boy” vibe from him. He was totally flat. The romance was a tedious aspect. We get a glimpse of a past beau named Tellis, and then we get introduced to Sorin and just….no. But at least it is such a minor aspect that it doesn’t matter much. And it’s nice seeing how Sorin calls up questions of morality in the murder of innocent people for a cause.
The beginning of the book is slow slow slow. She arrives at the caves. She is losing her magic. She is trying to investigate. She is teaching magic without magic. Sorin Sorin Sorin. But the introduction of the Master adds a new twist. I loved the Master. He’s brilliant, manipulative, and has total control over a large group of killers. He has a twisted agenda, but it’s impossible to know what exactly. I love complicated villains, and the Master is definitely on the list.
In general, it’s pretty intriguing. There are a lot of mysteries and little plots unraveling. But it’s a little slow and a little vague at times. I want a LOT more about the Empire and what exactly has transpired in the outside world. I want to know more about Ileni’s magical training. There are a lot of open ended questions and this book acts more as a precursor than a real start. But I can’t wait to see where Ileni goes from here.