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.
I’d seen this book around a few times, but since I’m not a big fan of Fantasy (there are exceptions) besides thinking ‘Oh that’s a gorgeous cover’ I didn’t really ever take the time time to stop and actually read the summary. Until a pretty finished copy arrived on my doorstep. As I was looking through the book, the first word that caught my attention was assassin! With me being almost obsessed with books about killers and assassins, I couldn’t believe I hadn’t heard of this one. How had I not heard of this??? I read through the summary and thought it sounded fascinating. Assassins + Magic =WIN! I was excited to read this one but I couldn’t fit it in my TBR at the moment. Luckily, a few days later I was able to score an audiobook copy for review. I do love my audiobooks and my assassin books so this was another win.
Since Ileni’s powers are rapidly decreasing, the Elders have deemed her ‘expendable’ and have sent her on a mission to train a group of assassins. Aside from the fact that she will be surrounded by trained assassins and that she can’t really defend herself with her powers if she needs to, the last two teachers ended up being killed. Ileni doesn’t understand how these assassins can blindly follow their Master’s commands, especially after he commands one of the young assassins to kill himself. But, the assassins, Sorin especially, believe that their Master orders them to kill because those deaths serve a higher purpose. Ileni is equal parts terrified, fascinated and attracted to Sorin, even though she believes he is a cold blooded killer. When their feelings start getting in the way, Ileni knows that her diminishing powers is the least of her worries. She must find out who killed the last two teachers while making sure she doesn’t attract the attention of the Master. But who can she trust among a group of assassins?
Things started off a little bit slow for me…but that’s okay because I think this is the norm for some fantasy books. The whole ‘setting up the world’ for us thing. Unfortunately, this was a little bit too slow for my liking. While it was never boring, I felt like I was just waiting for that moment for it to take a turn and for the pacing to speed up. Although I liked the chemistry between Ileni and Sorin, I also wanted more out of this. I think it was about the 60% mark where they finally kiss. This is also about the point where things really start picking up. Although I really enjoyed the set up of the story, the world, the characters and Ileni and Sorin’s relationship, I would have loved it if we just had a little bit more of everything. I am excited to see how the next book will play out now that we have all that stuff out of the way. I want more romance and more action and I hope we get both! Although this wasn’t my favorite book in the fantasy genre, the unique storyline and unexpected plot twists still made this an enjoyable story. I’m looking forward to the next book in this series!
Audiobook Comments: This is the first audiobook I’ve heard by Cris Dukehart. A narrator is so important for the story because they can definitely make or break the book. Since this story was a little bit to slow for my liking, I’m glad that I ended up listening to the audiobook instead of reading it. Cris did a good job as narrator and I loved that she had a distinct voice for each character. I think the narration saved it for those times in the beginning where it felt like it was dragging. I enjoyed the narration of this book and I hope they keep the same person for the next book.
Some of my favorite non-spoiler quotes from Death Sworn:
Ileni found herself sitting on the floor with her back against the bed, arms wrapped around her body, feeling as if something inside her had frozen and cracked. She had been so loved, once. She hadn’t even realized how lucky she was, to be the center of someone’s world, to have someone who would always be there. And now she was alone, a helpless girl in a labyrinth of caves, surrounded by people who would kill her at a word.
“It’s not hard to kill,” Ileni said softly, as if discovering it all over again. “Not if you hate someone. It’s so very easy.”
But it shouldn’t be.
“Do you truly think all the people you kill deserve to die?
“That would be an easier belief, wouldn’t it?” Sori’s face was remote. “But no…We face the truth, Sorceress: Not that they deserve to die. But that their deaths serve a greater purpose.”
“Every person we assassinate dies to serve a greater purpose.”
“I’m sure they would be happy if they knew it,” Ileni said sarcastically, but her voice sounded weak even to her. “If you would explain it to them, perhaps they would volunteer for your knives.”
She knew this would end badly, It was so ridiculous and so doomed that she could almost despise herself. Except, except… except her whole life was ridiculous and doomed, so if a brief interlude of happiness had come her way, why not grab that? She had forgotten how good it felt to be happy.