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Cover image for Death sworn
Death sworn
First edition.
New York, NY : Greenwillow Books, an imprint of HarperCollinsPublishers, [2014]
Physical Description:
346 pages ; 22 cm.
Series title(s):
Number in series:
General Note:
Sequel: Death marked.
"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"-- Provided by publisher.


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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. Teen Vogue proclaimed, "It's impossible not to fall deep into the dark yet alluring world of sorcery and secret assassins." 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.

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?

Reviews 4

School Library Journal Review

Gr 9 Up-Ileni was once a powerful sorceress, poised to be a leader among her people in their war against the Empire that exiled them long ago. But her magic is slowly and inexplicably fading, and she has been sentenced to spend the rest of her life as a teacher to assassins in a distant cave fortress. The teen also hopes to discover who killed the previous tutors sent by her people. The mission becomes further complicated by Ileni's growing feelings for Sorin, the assassin charged with protecting her. As Ileni delves deeper into the caves and the murders, she discovers more than she bargained for about herself and her people's relationship with the assassins and their mysterious leader. This book has a strong beginning that quickly fails to deliver, due in part to poor world-building. While Cypess gives a strong impression of a deep history of Ileni's people and the Empire itself, she doesn't delve into that history enough, which causes the story to lack a sense of true power. The romance is sluggish, despite a promising start, and Ileni herself, while steely and strong, has a tendency toward overt self-pity and whining. The novel's twists and turns set inside claustrophobic caves often lead to dead ends and will frustrate readers. Fans of Sarah J. Maas and Kristin Cashore may be drawn to this title but may not get deeply engaged.-Necia Blundy, formerly at Marlborough Public Library, MA (c) Copyright 2014. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Horn Book Review

As seventeen-year-old Ileni's magic begins to fade, she's sent to the Black Mountain to tutor assassins in sorcery. With the help of Sorin, her student and assigned protector, she must discover who killed her predecessors before someone kills her. Ileni proves a compelling protagonist, and the blend of romance, assassins, magic, and murder-mystery consistently raises the stakes. (c) Copyright 2014. The Horn Book, Inc., a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.

Kirkus Review

A teenage sorceress without magic attempts to solve a murder in a cave full of killers. What could possibly go wrong? Deemed expendable due to her rapidly dwindling power, Ileni is sent to the Assassins' Caves to teach magicand secretly to investigate the sudden deaths of the previous tutors dispatched there. Resigned to her task (and likely murder), Ileni despises the assassins and all their works yet is also reluctantly drawn to the unexpected grace and even joy in their lives, as well as their selfless dedication to a greater purpose. Cypess has a talent for bringing freshness and depth to tired tropes; her lyrical prose and understated imagery evoke the claustrophobic caverns and the unbearable stress of ever-present danger. Ileni, with her complex blend of intelligence, arrogance, longing, despair and determination, is an exceptionally vibrant heroine. While her delicately passionate romance with her assassin bodyguard appears uncomfortably close to Stockholm syndrome, it also encapsulates the constant tension between popular perceptions of assassins as awesome and sexy superninjas and as callous, mercenary, bloodthirsty thugs. As her constricted surroundings paradoxically result in a more nuanced appreciation of the wider world, Ileni gradually learns the difference among those things worth killing for, worth dying for and worth living for. A thoughtful exploration of identity and responsibility wrapped in a twisty, suspenseful mystery and set in a gorgeously realized fantasy world. (Fantasy/mystery. 12 up)]] Copyright Kirkus Reviews, used with permission.

Booklist Review

In a striking start to a new series full of magic and murder, Cypess (Nightspell, 2011) has created a heroine at the intersection of Tamora Pierce's Alanna and George R. R. Martin's Arya Stark. Ileni, a sorceress, is sent by her village elders to a rival land to tutor a group of young, brash aspiring assassins in the ways of magic, but she's been separated from everything she loves, and soon she is wishing for her assignment to end . . . at whatever cost. Her predecessors were quickly dispatched by a mysterious foe, and she has been told she's just as expendable. With her powers fading, she's starting to believe it. But she's not alone in her ever-more-hostile circumstances: Sorin, a young assassin assigned to protect Ileni, is good at training, magic, and doing what he's told without question, and they work together to keep each other safe and solve the murders of Ileni's predecessors. Fans who loved Kristin Cashore's Graceling (2008) and its brave heroine will be sated by Cypess' genre-crossing tale of intrigue.--Comfort, Stacey Copyright 2014 Booklist