Death Sworn (Death Sworn #1)
by Leah Cypess
Summary: 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.
Source: I purchased a Kindle copy.
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Death Sworn had a good premise. Ileni was sent to teach by her people in a cave of assassins after the last two teachers died in mysterious ways. She was losing her magic and quite useless in the region of her people and figured that was part of the reason she was chosen.
Death Sworn had no world building. None. I have no idea what kind of world it was set in, what the history between the Elders and the assassins were, why the Empire was to be overthrown, or what role each group played in the Empire. As a result, the book was quite unpredictable in terms of who killed who and what would happen with the overall conflict. However, the lack of world building was aggravating.
The book also featured an insta-love connection between the teacher and one of the assassin students assigned to her protection. I'm not really sure in what world a group of Elders would send a teacher so young to a group of men learning to be assassins, but since I'm also not sure what world this book was placed in, perhaps it's the same one. It was so obvious that Ileni would start to develop feelings for her protector.
I didn't like Ileni and since the story took place in the caves and she was isolated, I never really got more of other people or a change of scenery at all. She lacked an understanding of the assassins that a teacher should probably have. She was a little snobby, despite being utterly useless as her magic was draining (a problem in which we were given no reason for). If the story was supposed to be about changing your worldview, then the love story between the two characters would have been amazing. However, that wasn't really the point, so it was just kind of.. there.
Death Sworn had a ton of potential, but it just didn't hit the mark. It felt short in multiple ways. If it was a small section of a fantasy novel in which other characters were featured outside and it all created a conflict in the Empire, I would have not minded Ileni's story. But as a whole, the isolation, lack of world building, and instalove were all too much for me to overlook. To me, this reads like an underdeveloped slice of the plot of An Ember in the Ashes.
Labels: Fantasy, Review, YA