Thursday, August 7, 2014

Review: Death Sworn

Title: Death Sworn
Author: Leah Cypess
Published: March 4, 2014
Publisher: Greenwillow

I feel like I should not have enjoyed this book as much as I did. It had many flaws, for sure, but the narrator's personality and voice were so solid, along with other characters, that I read this one all the way through without putting it down.

Here's the synopsis: Ileni, our heroine, is a sorceress who used to be immensely powerful. However, her magical fuel, for lack of better term, is almost depleted, and she's running on fumes. So, she volunteers herself for a suicide mission -- to become the ambassor/visiting professor for a guild of assassins who live and train underground in an elaborate cave system. Her own magical collective and the guild of assassins would be adversaries except for the fact that they have a common enemy. As it is, they're just extremely hostile towards each other.

Ileni is charged with teaching the assassins-in-training their rudimentary magic skills. At the same time, she's trying to figure out how the past two ambassadors died, and dodging assassination attempts from every side. Good thing she was assigned a bodyguard, who will become her reluctant partner-in-crime.

As previously mentioned, the main character was a standout for me. Her purpose for living is gone, so she's horribly reckless, but she also has a backbone, and intends to go down fighting. This combination allows her to get into some fantastic scrapes.

She's a nightmare for her bodyguard, Sorin, who is also a standout character. The second book in the series could definitely stand to see more of him. He has been raised since boyhood to be the perfect killer and to obey his chain of command without question. Seeing how he is completely driven off of his rails during the course of the book was great fun. 

As for flaws, there are two main gripes I have. One is that the political situation was really confusing and poorly laid out. My understanding of what parties are in play, and where they're playing, and for what is still hazy. Secondly, the descriptions of the setting need development. As a reader, I felt like I did the heavy lifting in imagining the setting as I read. 

All in all, I enjoyed the book quite a bit, despite reservations, and I'm really excited to see if the second installment carries on the good and fixes the bad.

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