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Death Sworn by Leah Cypess

death swornI read and loved Leah Cypess’s first two books, Mistwood and Nightspell, when they came out, so I definitely went into Death Sworn with high hopes. I very much enjoy the mixture of fantasy politics, romance, and good prose that are her hallmarks. And I found that I did in fact like Death Sworn a good deal, but not exactly in the way that I expected to.

This is less of a review and more of a reaction; yours might be different.

– Ileni is a nice main character, unsure of herself in certain ways but with a very firm moral compass, despite her agonizing over certain elements of her upbringing. She’s also smart, which is refreshing, and she takes risks but in a calculated way that doesn’t annoy me.

– Cypress’s worldbuilding is, as always, extremely deft; she creates a complex interaction of cultures which I largely bought. Also, the system of magic was well thought out and I liked the costs and implications.

– I wished that the book had started in a different place, that we had actually seen the Renegai society while Ileni actually lived in it, rather than through flashbacks; it rendered the whole thing rather muted and kept it from having the emotional heft that it should.

– While I didn’t mind the romance, I also wasn’t head-over-heels in love with it either (err, no pun intended), and at times it felt a bit repetitive.

{- Incidentally, can anyone think of an example of a book where the main character meets a boy at the beginning and he doesn’t turn out to be the love interest? I feel like there is an obvious example, but I can’t quite think of it.}

– I was extremely surprised by the lack of resolution at the end; partly I hadn’t realized this was a series, and it’s very much the “things have happened, but there’s a lot to come” type of ending.

Generally, I liked this one but, as I hinted above, had a somewhat muted emotional reaction to it. The mystery part was fine; I didn’t guess the solution at all (I’m not sure it is guessable? Would be curious to know what others think). The romance was fine, the political interactions interesting. But I never found myself completely immersed in the world or the story. Sometimes when this happens, I can pinpoint why, and other times I’m really not sure. This is one of the times when I’m really not sure. I certainly intend to read the next book.

Book source: public library
Book information: 2014, HarperCollins; upper mg/YA (there’s some violence and threat of violence, but this shouldn’t bother the kid who’s read, for instance, the Attolia books, or Tolkien

By Maureen LaFerney

My name is Maureen. I currently work as a library assistant in a public library in the Indianapolis area, and also just so happen to be a voracious reader. I frequently end up under a cat.

5 replies on “Death Sworn by Leah Cypess”

This is one where I was really swept up in it while I was reading, but the more I thought about it after the more I had some issues.

I agree the mystery part is fun and I liked the politics and the world.

My issues:
-Meh about the romance and even though I was only meh about it, I was still annoyed at where she chose to cut to black on the actual romantic scenes. (And it was a cut not a fade.) That made little sense to me.

-Where the heck did the knife come from at the end? I read an ARC so maybe that’s fixed in the final copy?

-I have a fear a love triangle is going to make an appearance in book two. She spent so much time thinking about the old boyfriend and he’s bound to make an appearance at some time right?

I agree on all of those! Although I think it was his own knife that he had just used? I can’t quite remember, but that was my impression.

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