Author: Leah Cypess
Publisher: Greenwillow Books, March 2014
Synopsis: When a young sorceress is exiled to teach magic to a clan of assassins, she will find that secrets can be even deadlier than swords. From the critically acclaimed Leah Cypess comes a dangerous and eerie fantasy about murder, shocking discoveries, and fiery star-crossed romance that readers of Cinda Williams Chima and Robin LaFevers won't be able to put down.A teacher who is losing her powers is sent to teach assassins magic. Can it possibly get more awesome? Yes, it can, because as the synopsis states the previous two teachers died in accidents. The level of solid story telling plunges you into a dark, cavernous world and hits all the notes of a well-written high fantasy plot.
Ileni is losing her magic. And that means she's losing everything: her position as the rising star of her people, her purpose in life, and even the young man she loves. Sent to the assassins' cave, hidden deep within the mountains, she expects no one will ever hear from her again. The last two sorcerers sent died within weeks of each other. Accidents? Or something more sinister? As Ileni navigates the dangers--both natural and human--of the caves, she'll discover secrets that have been kept for decades. And she'll find an ally in Sorin, the deadly young man who could be the assassins' next leader. With Sorin determined to protect her, sparks--magical and romantic--will fly. But will even he understand the choice she must make in the end?
Ileni is the strong-willed character we've come to expect in similar stories, but unlike most other characters in similar situations, she accepts the inevitability of her death. Ileni's world is my very favorite part of the story. It's laid out so logically that I just wanted to explore it more. And the world plays brilliantly into the plot -- it proves as treacherous as the big plot twist.
If you guys are thinking, that is all well and good, but where is the romance? Let me assure you that there is a good blend of romance, action and mystery in the story. Although the romance may be a little light, the chemistry is palpable. If you click over to the blog tour post, you'll see a pinterest board I made which shows some of Leah's influences as well as a collection of images that I thought represent the setting and plot.
When you're in the mood for a high fantasy story with a protagonist who is fierce but resigned to her fate and a world that is dark, intimidating and has just the right degree of complexity without becoming too broad, pick up Death Sworn. It's a perfect read for these colder mornings and darker nights.