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Death Sworn by Leah Cypess eARC {4 Stars}

Death Sworn by Leah Cypess combines a fun fantasy world with twists on traditional fantasy tropes and some surprisingly deep morality questions. It introduces a world that I can’t wait to find out more about, even though nearly the entire book takes place in the cave system of a guild of assassins! Also, plot twists, ahoy, woot!

Note: I received an eARC of Death Sworn through Edelweiss for an honest review. Some things may have changed in the final version.

Death Sworn by Leah Cypess eARC {4 Stars}

Death Sworn by Leah Cypess (Death Sworn #1)
Published by Greenwillow on March 4, 2014
Genres: Fantasy, YA
Page Length: 352 pages
How I got my copy: Edelweiss
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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.

4 Stars


  • Let’s just start out with my favorite thing (no not dragons, haha): plot twists! I knew from early on that Death Sworn would have to have a crazy ending given the mysteries that Ileni encounters, but I still didn’t expect what happened, which is the best in my opinion :D.
  • The magic system in Death Sworn hints at being really cool. I suppose it is actually fairly typical in that it involves personal power being shaped by spoken spells, but the description of the spells that Ileni performs goes way beyond that! I could picture these scenes perfectly and they were so epic.
  • So at first Death Sworn seems to be a typical chosen one story since Ileni is the most powerful/skilled magic user of recent memory. However, Death Sworn quickly turns that trope on its head and I loved it! Ileni is slowly losing her magic and therefore she is still the most skilled, but she doesn’t have the power to do the spells she knows how to do. I can’t wait to see where the series takes this aspect!
  • I honestly didn’t expect the morality questions that arose. Ileni finds out a lot about how the assassins’ guild teaches about death and sacrifice and it raised some really interesting ideas, especially since Ileni is pretty opposite in opinion so there is lots of good discussion, yey.


  •  Pretty much all of Death Sworn takes place inside the caves, so while the outside world is discussed, we never get to see it. The hints that are dropped are so tantalizing and it drove me a bit batty not to find out much of anything of what the world really looks like in Death Sworn.
  • Ileni was an all right main character, but I didn’t particularly care for her. I didn’t dislike her, she just isn’t someone that I would go out of my way to be friends with ya know? More of an acquaintance even by the end of the book.
  • Remember that awesome magic that I told you about? We don’t get to learn much of it beyond  a couple of scenes since Ileni can’t cast many spells. I’m not really sure how the rest of the series will get around this, but I neeeeeeed to know more about that magic system (and kind of wish that Death Sworn had found a way to show us more despite Ileni’s situation)!


Death Sworn is an exciting start to what could be a really epic duology. The ending promises so much amazingness for book two so I’m just going to keep refreshing on Goodreads until more information about book two is posted >.>. But seriously, if you like fantasy and assassins, add this one to your March reading list asap.

4 Stars
Anya from On Starships and Dragonwings

Have you read this one? What did you think? Are you excited for it if you haven’t gotten to it yet?
– Anya


 Death Sworn by Leah Cypress

© 2014, Anya. All rights reserved.


  1. I’m super pumped that you enjoyed this one hun! I’m planing on reading this one very (very) soon and the unique magical system, plot twists and general unpredictability are seriously getting me excited here :D I am bummed that you didn’t connect with the MC more though D: kind of a bummer. Anyways, thanks for the wonderful review ^^
    Micheline @ Lunar Rainbows Reviews recently posted…Review: The Way of KingsMy Profile

    • Woot, it’s a really fast read too ;-). I’m hopeful about book two that the MC will come into her own more :)

  2. Can’t read the review yet – I know I know you’ve been pestering me to read this one already. I will! But I had to give into my WHERE THE SILENCE GATHERS urge. Sometimes I just have to read things as the whim hits me.
    Pabkins recently posted…Review: Night Broken by Patricia BriggsMy Profile

    • I completely understand! How are you liking that one?? I’m really excited for it, but my pdf won’t open on my kobo *sigh*

  3. I loved the magic system too! Very intriguing. I also hope we get to learn more about it, though!

    Fabulous review :)
    YA Book Queen recently posted…Highlights / Lowlights: FIND ME by Romily BernardMy Profile

    • Gah yes! I loved that she was losing her magic since that was an interesting twist, but it made it so hard for the reader to get much of a view on how the magic worked except glimpses

  4. I’m so glad we read this one together. You know I really enjoyed it too–the world was a tad small and underdeveloped but we both have high hopes for book 2. I can’t wait for the title and cover to be revealed :-)

  5. This one has been on my TBR list for months, and I can’t wait to read it! I’ve noticed just about all the early reviews mentioning the lack of exposure to the outside world and the lack of fuller explanations, but I’m still interested enough to give it a go. Good review!
    Kel recently posted…Antigoddess by Kendare Blake (3 stars)My Profile

    • Hehe, I think that that is a big thing that sticks out with this one, especially given what happens at the end ;-)

  6. I love the new trend towards duologies. It allows more involvement from the reader, and longer stories, without the dreaded second book syndrome. And yay for plot twists!
    Sarah recently posted…Discussion: Book Reviewer vs Book BloggerMy Profile

  7. Bec @ Ransom Reads says:

    Fantasy and assassins is what really makes me want to read this RIGHT NOW. But hearing those elements aren’t as great/involved as they seemed to be after reading the summary…. ehhh

    Magic is one of the best things about fantasy novels. It’s always so unique. I’d have thought the assassins would have more than one magic user teaching them (just because she’s the most powerful doesn’t mean Ileni is the most knowledgeable…). Then we’d see magic more even though Ileni’s magic is disappearing.

    It also suck you’re stuck in the caves. Caves are cool, but there’s not much scenery there. And I like following the characters as they travel through their world.

    It may sound like I’m criticizing stuff right now, but I still do want to check Death Sworn out. I do love fantasy and assasins, and your good points are enough to assure my interests this will be interesting. Thanks for the review :) It was good to read a positive one for this after many meh ones :D
    Bec @ Ransom Reads recently posted…Merchant’s Ransom: RequiemMy Profile

    • Agreed, love magic! There is a pretty good explanation for the assassins’ isolation along with the magic users since it’s a pretty hesitant alliance they have going. I do wish that there had been another magic user around from the beginning for just that reason, though I have hope for book two ;-).

      Definitely no traveling in this one unfortunately, though book two again has promise, hehe.

  8. And it is a duo instead of a trilogy? Bonus. Sometimes a quicker story is better after all.
    Nathan (@reviewbarn) recently posted…Fantasy Review: ‘The Barrow’ by Mark SmylieMy Profile

    • Haha, truth, though I feel like this could have been a world for me to get lost in for a while, oh well ;-)


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