Reading Level: Young Adult
Size: 352 pages
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Release Date: March 4, 2014
Stand Alone or Series: 1st book in the Death Sworn series
Source: eGalley from NetGalley.com
Rating: 4/5 stars
I got a copy of this book to review through NetGalley. Thanks to Greenwillow and NetGalley for giving me a chance to read this book. This is going to be a duology; the second book is as yet untitled. This was a decent fantasy read, I enjoyed it.
Ileni is sent by the sorcerer group she lives with, the Renegai, to teach a bunch of assassins who live underground magic. Ileni has a secret, her magic is fading and the Renegai sent her down to teach the assassins as more of a sacrifice than anything. The last couple sorcerers sent to the assassins as teachers have mysteriously died in accidents. Ileni also has a secret mission, to find out who murdered those previous teachers.
Ileni’s assigned protector is an assassin named Sorin. Sorin is loyal to the leader of the assassin’s guild who is known only as The Master. However, Sorin does occasionally question the Master’s motives. What neither Sorin of Ileni realize is that they are playing roles in a much larger game.
Sorin and Ileni do have a romance of sorts, the romance between them is subtle and develops slowly.
Ileni is one of the smarter heroines I have read about, she generally makes good choices…she is determined to do what is right and daring when necessary. I enjoyed reading about her. I enjoyed the realism behind some of her decisions.
Sorin is a killing machine, but still somewhat conflicted about his duties. He’s a complex character that was interesting to read about and I hope we learn more about him and his background in future books in this series. Both Sorin and Ileni are engaging and likable, so they are generally fun to read about.
Almost the whole book takes place underground in the Assassin’s caverns. The assassin’s are trained never to question anything and are strictly disciplined. As a result the characters are fairly isolated from outside events for the majority of the book, this changes a bit towards the end of the book.
I would have liked a better explanation of how magic works, it is never really explained why Ileni’s magic is fading or why some people have magic and others don’t.
I also thought the story was a bit isolated and at times this made things a bit boring. We get glimpses of the world outside the assassin’s cave but are never really introduced to it well. There were a few parts of the story that I thought lagged a bit because of this…it also makes the world building come off as a bit weak.
Overall this was a good fantasy read. There is lots of intrigue, mystery, magic, some action, and a subtle romance. I wish we had learned a bit more about magic and the world outside the assassin’s caverns. Hopefully future books in this series will explain that. Recommended to those who like young adult fantasy.