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Sunday, March 9, 2014

Review: Death Sworn by Leah Cypress

Publisher: Greenwillow
Published: March 4, 2014
Pages: 352
Source: For Review from HarperCollins/Edelweiss
Rating: 3 Stars

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.

In short: Death Sworn was not especially memorable, but I did appreciate Leah Cypress' ability to create such a darkly atmospheric world.
It's definitely not a good sign that I am sitting down to write a review for Death Sworn a month after I finished reading it and I have already forgotten quite a few of the details. Sure, I probably shouldn't have waited so long to write my review, but to be honest, that isn't normally a problem for me because I actually have a pretty excellent memory normally. I rarely have problems remembering scenes and plot points from books I've read so to say that I have forgotten much of Death Sworn means that it did little to impress me and was not particularly memorable.

That's not to say that I disliked Death Sworn. I don't recall the details of course, but I do recall enjoying it enough. I was intrigued with the darkly atmospheric world that Leah Cypress has created. Immediately we are introduced to an ominous mystery and feeling of unease simmering just below the surface. I love reading about magic and assassins and I think Leah Cypress delivered an original premise combining the two. I was definitely unclear on some of the aspects of the world and certain plot points, but overall I think the dark tones and the rich atmosphere of the world were my favourite parts of Death Sworn.

On the other hand, from what I recall of the characters in Death Sworn, they were pretty inconsistent and largely frustrating. Ditto with the romance. Hey, I like forbidden romance as much as the next girl, but can we please stop with the whiplash-inducing personality changes? Because of this, I felt distant from the characters for most of Death Sworn. I was still occasionally intrigued by the characters and their actions, but they were really lacking the oomph that makes great characters memorable.

Overall, Death Sworn was an unfortunately forgettable book that was lacking specialness. BUT I do think that Leah Cypress has a definite talent for creating enigmatic and shadowy settings and tones that intrigue and tantalize. While my experience with Death Sworn isn't enough to convince me to move forward with this series, it has confirmed my committal to read Leah Cypress' previous book, Mistwood, which many people seem to love.

Other Reviews:
Ex Libris
The Daily Prophet
Supernatural Snark

Author Links:


  1. Aww, too bad this one didn't work for you, Aylee. I, too, would have a problem with the characters if they were inconsistent too.Maybe I should pick up Mistwood instead or maybe wait for book 2 of this series before picking this one up. Hmm..

  2. Thanks for linking to me! I did like this book, but I agree with you on the characters being a little inconsistent, at times. I'm hoping things even out with the next book.

    Kate @ Ex Libris

  3. Too many details are super hard to remember. Ah, like you, I do like my dose of forbidden romances, but then again, frustrating characters frustrate me to no ends. It reaches a point where characters start seeming very senseless and shallow to me. Death Sworn does look promising but because it didn't blow you away or anything, I'll let it pass, I guess. Also, if you don't feel the need to continue with the series, then it's as simple as nothing at all. Thank you for this lovely review, Aylee!

    Sarika @ The Readdicts

  4. I've had my eye on this one, mostly because it includes assassins. Too bad it wasn't particularly memorable.

  5. Like you, I have a pretty awesome memory...so it says a lot when I quickly forget details in books, shows or movies so I can definitely understand what you speak of here! I'm planning on reading this one soon myself so I like that it was at least enjoyable and not painful for you hehe. The dark, atmospheric tones sound worth checking out to be in any case so while I'm sorry this one didn't grab your attention more (oh and yuck @ the whiplash inducing personality changes!) I'm still curious enough to check it out! Lovely review Aylee!!

  6. "I think the dark tones and the rich atmosphere of the world were my favourite parts of Death Sworn." - agreed! I also had a bit of trouble enjoying the romance / characters. It was an interesting book, but I wanted so much more from it!

    Nice honest review :)

  7. I love fantasy, especially when it involves magic and assassins, so I'll probably read this one even though you found this one forgettable, Aylee. It's too bad the characters and romance were disappointing but it seems like the worldbuilding makes up for it. Hopefully when I get around to reading this one, I'll like it a bit more.

  8. I still don't know for sure if this book is for me, though I'm certainly curious. Maybe I'll wait until the next book comes out. I don't like the sound of the inconsistent characters and romance, and hearing that a book was forgettable for someone with a good bookish memory is not a great sign for me. Maybe Mistwood is a better bet! Lovely honest review Aylee :-)

  9. Aw I was hoping this one would be a little more epic. I love interesting worlds but I don’t think it would be enough for me without anything else to really add a lot to it. Thanks for the review!

  10. Aww, I'm sorry it didn't work out better for you, it sounds only sort of okay. I hate when the characters aren't consistent, it's one of my pet peeves

  11. Sorry you didn't really like this one. It's definitely not good that you can't remember many details if that's something that is normally easy for you. I'm not the biggest fantasy fan, so this wouldn't normally stick out to me anyway.

  12. The more reviews of Death Sworn that I read, the more I'm swayed to just stick with reading the Mistwood duology and *only* reading Cypess' most recent work if I love her first series. That's too bad, because the premise for this does sound as though it has potential. Perhaps I'll wait around and see if the story improves in the sequel.
    Oh! In case you didn't know, I believe the Mistwood ebook is still on sale for another few days if you are interested in giving that one a go. I purchased it near the beginning of the month, I think.

  13. Sounds like something less than impressionable. I'm going to hold off on this one for a while. Its just a "meh" on my reading list.