Book Review: Death Sworn

Death Sworn
Published by: Greenwillow Books
Release date: March 4, 2014
Genre: YA fantasy
352 pages
Source: galley kindly provided by publisher

First things first: look at that cover. Is it not gorgeous? I will readily admit that my attention was initially drawn by that beautiful cover. Excellent marketing, giving a book some packaging that so efficiently draws attention.

I certainly love a good fantasy series featuring a strong female main character; the Fire and Thorns series by Carson and Redwine's Defiance trilogy are among my favorites. Those two series, along with several others, set the bar pretty high for new series of this sort. Death Sworn does a pretty good job of keeping up.

My least favorite thing about this novel: it's difficult for me to accept that the assassins follow the orders of the Master so unquestioningly. One particular scene comes to mind, of course, but discussing it would definitely be a spoiler, so I will refrain. The absolute power that one man has over a group of trained killers, however, is just unsavory.

My favorite thing about the novel is that, with her magic waning, Ileni is left to rely on her wits while in the midst of these dangerous men. She must be careful to not reveal that her power is compromised. She must be careful to not surprise or anger the men, who all could easily end her life. She must choose wisely who she listens to and who she trusts. She must solve the mystery of how her predecessors died, both so she may serve her people, and also so she can figure out how to avoid their fate. Above all, she must be SMART. I love reading smart characters, and I am most appreciative of young female ones, because I think our girls need more of them to read.

Death Sworn is a great start to this series. I will be grabbing up book 2 as soon as it's available; if the ending of book 1 is any indication, this series is going to get even better.


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.


  1. Yes, the cover is gorgeous. I am looking forward to reading this book too and hearing that the lead female is a strong character is always a plus for me. I like them more that way especially in a world like this book.

  2. Oh, that cover is definitely gorgeous! Also, I've been wanting to read Cypess' books for so long-- I really should start this year! Need to read more of those smart, strong female protagonists.

    Great review.


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