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Death Marked (Death Sworn) Hardcover – March 3, 2015
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From School Library Journal
Gr 7 Up—In this thrilling sequel to Death Sworn (HarperCollins/Greenwillow, 2013), Ileni has been separated from the dreamy and dark-eyed assassin Sorin in order to fulfill her destiny. In the midst of dangerous spell weavers, the formerly powerful sorceress has returned to the Empire that exiled her to infiltrate the Imperial Academy. The institution is where the best enchanters in the land train and hone their skills under the unforgiving hand of Karyn and the strongest learn to wield their power and serve the Empire. The protagonist hopes to destroy the Empire from within. But in the middle of her enemy's heart, she starts to doubt everything she's been raised to believe. Appealing to fans of Robin LaFevers's "His Fair Assassin" series and Kristin Cashore's Graceling (both Houghton Harcourt), there is some violence, but nothing too graphic. This novel will especially be appreciated by readers who enjoyed Cypess's previous volumes.—Clair Segal, LREI, New York City
“Spellbinding. . . . Cypess is an author to continue watching and reading.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA))
“Mesmerizing.” (Kirkus Reviews)
Praise for Death Sworn: “In a striking start to a new series full of magic and murder, Cypess has created a heroine at the intersection of Tamora Pierce’s Alanna and George R. R. Martin’s Arya Stark.” (Booklist)
“[I]t’s impossible not to fall deep into the dark yet alluring world of sorcery and secret assassins.” (Teen Vogue)
“A thoughtful exploration of identity and responsibility wrapped in a twisty, suspenseful mystery and set in a gorgeously realized fantasy world.” (Kirkus Reviews (starred review))
“Cypess masterfully depicts battles with daggers, spells, and wits. The surprising conclusion leaves readers hoping for a sequel.” (Voice of Youth Advocates (VOYA))
Top customer reviews
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Leah Cypess introduces Ileni to a new world and new characters in this second and final installment in the series. She takes her on a journey from the caves of the assassins to the mountains that house the Academy where the imperial sorcerers train. She puts her in a situation where she must fight against being used as a weapon, try to stay focused on her mission, find a peaceful solution to the conflict between the sorcerers and assassins, and attempt to stop the atrocities committed by the sorcerers to obtain their magic.
She puts her at the mercy of the head of the Academy. She separates her from the one she loves but cannot trust. She tempts her with unlimited stores of magic. And she forces her to choose between her heart and what she believes in.
DEATH MARKED leaves behind the world and most of the characters introduced in the series’ first book. It begins to explore the realm of the sorcerers, though its explorations don’t reach as far as the Empire. As with the first book, the story is largely contained within the walls of those Ileni has managed to infiltrate.
It reveals a world that is as cold and ruthless as that of the assassins, if not more so. And it shows just how similar these enemies really are in their willingness to sacrifice, to kill, to stop at nothing to win. And with its new setting and characters, it feels like a brand new adventure.
Difficult choices must be made – ones that come with a steep price. Realizations must be faced – about weaknesses, flawed beliefs, expectations, and love. Sides will be chosen. Sacrifices will be made. Lives will be lost. And hearts will be broken.
Author Leah Cypess gives readers a heroine who had a lot to learn about the world she lived in and about herself. She allowed her to fail. She allowed her to grow. And she developed her into someone who was strong enough to make a difference.
Fans of the first book should expect a fascinating world, interesting, flawed, likable and detestable characters, awesome abilities, and a gripping story in DEATH MARKED. They should also be prepared to expect the unexpected in this thrilling and heartrending tale.
Death Marked by Leah Cypess
Book Two of the Death Sworn series
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Publication Date: March 3, 2015
Rating: 3 stars
Source: ARC sent by the publisher
Summary (from Goodreads):
A young sorceress’s entire life has been shaped to destroy the empire controlling her world. But if everything she knows is a lie, will she even want to fulfill her destiny? The sequel to Death Sworn is just as full of magic and surprising revelations, and will thrill fans of Leigh Bardugo and Robin LaFevers.
At seventeen, Ileni lost her magical power and was exiled to the hidden caves of the assassins. She never thought she would survive long. But she discovered she was always meant to end up, powerless, in the caves as part of an elder sorcerer’s plan to destroy the evil Empire they'd battled so long. Except that Ileni is not an assassin, and she doesn't want to be a weapon. And, after everything, she’s not even sure she knows the truth. Now, at the very heart of the Empire—its academy for sorcerers—the truth is what she seeks. What she finds challenges every belief she holds dear—and it threatens her fledgling romance with the young master of assassins.
Leah Cypess spins an intricate and beautiful conclusion to Ileni's story. In the end, it may not be the epic decisions that bring down an empire, but the small ones that pierce the heart.
What I Liked:
Oh man. This book. It has me torn in two. On one hand, it's a decent novel and has a good story... but on the other hand, I wanted more from the book. Maybe my expectations were too high. Maybe I'd had an idea in my head when I finished Death Sworn, and after reading Death Marked, the idea wasn't what happened. I don't know. But I didn't enjoyed Death Marked as much as I'd hoped...
Ileni is now a prisoner to the Empire, the very thing she despises. She is a weapon, but not an assassin. At the Empire's Academy, she learns how to use combat magic, with lodestones to help her. Ileni hates it - her people are all about healing and peace, not war and slaughter. But Ileni has a goal, and she must see to it that she finds the truth. But she will have to choose a side, and that could mean betraying the assassins, or losing her life.
I liked Ileni a lot in Death Sworn, and I like her still. She is a strong and hardened, tough as nails, yet gentle and calm. She has a lot of poise for someone who risking everything by sneaking around behind the Empire's back. Ileni loses her way, but she tries her best to stay true to herself and her people. I definitely could put myself in her shoes and could see myself making the same difficult, heartbreaking decisions that she had to make.
This book introduced a slew of new characters. Cyn, a cruel and vicious pupil of the Academy, with her own magic (like Ileni used to be). Lis, her twin, with no magic of her own, a shell of her sister. Evin, the powerful nephew of the scary head of the Academy. And a familiar face... Arxis, an assassin. Except that no one at the Academy knows who Arxis really is.
I really like all of the new characters, even if I hated some of them. They are so well characterized and constructed and have distinct personalities. I especially liked Evin - he is so easygoing and friendly, but really, he is the most powerful of all of them, and could kill them all with the amount of power in his pinky finger. He's a real sweetheart.
I think I liked the story of this book, but I don't think it was enough for me, in terms of a conclusion novel. Like, if this were a sequel novel, and there were more books in the series, I would like this one more. But if you put things into perspective (knowing that this book is the last book, of the duology), then, well, I'm not satisfied. Read on.
What I Did Not Like:
I definitely needed more from the story. Ileni is stuck in the Empire's Academy. That's kind of the state of affairs throughout the entire book. I couldn't really grasp what Ileni's end goal was. I didn't understand why she was there, what she was trying to accomplish, how she was going about accomplishing it. This book probably could have been cut in half, because not that much happened, and what happened was important, but didn't really do much for the overall plot of the series.
The first book definitely had more action in it, despite everything happening in the cave. This book read quickly, the events went by pretty quickly, but it didn't feel like much was happening. Ileni is avoiding Karyn (the head of the Academy), Ileni is contemplating whether or not to contact Sorin, Ileni is struggling to use the magic. A lot of internal battling, but not a lot of external ones (in my opinion). Or maybe I just wanted more.
Sorin is basically NOT in this book. We get his third person perspective in like, two chapters (the whole book is in third person, but limited to Ileni, except for those few instances where the author showed Sorin's perspective). I was disappointed, because I really, really liked Sorin in Death Sworn. And I'm not necessarily talking about as a love interest - he's an interesting character.
So... the romance. I'm not really happy with the romance. It's really not in this book at all. It doesn't progress forward... if anything, we go backwards. Think about it - Sorin and Ileni aren't really interacting in this book. I don't want to spoil things, but them not together affects their relationship, sort of.
I'm not saying the romance is BAD, or badly constructed... but I wanted more, for sure. That was a complaint I had in Death Sworn - that I wanted more romance. I wanted more in this book as well, and didn't get more. The ending needed to be more solid, in terms of the romance. Ugh! It's so hard to explain, but I didn't hate the romance. I just didn't like it either. It bothered me, but not enough to rage. I could see why the author took the direction she did, but still... hmph.
Would I Recommend It:
If you read Death Sworn, definitely give this novel a shot. It's worth the read, especially since this series is only a duology. However, don't do what I did. Don't go in with super high expectations. Don't be *too* excited, basically. Then you won't be super disappointed.
3 stars. I liked it, but I wanted more. I definitely think there is room for another book, if the author chose to write another and/or got a contract for a third. There are plenty of loose ends (in all aspects of the story) that could be tied together!
Most recent customer reviews
I loved the new setting and the tidy way everything is wrapped up. This story surprised me over and over again, even to the ending.Read more
I finished Death Sworn about a couple of months ago, and knew that I had to get Death Marked ASAP, so I requested an eARC.Read more