Series: Death Sworn #2
Published by HarperCollins on March 3, 2015
Genres: Action & Adventure, Fantasy, High Fantasy, Love & Romance, Young Adult
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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.
Tragic and enchanting. Star-marked
I’m starting the review off with this: I started Death Sworn on Oct 5. I finished it the same day. I then immediately started Death Marked and finished it the same day. And now I’m writing the review and I’m an absolute mess.
I shed a few tears for Sorin and Ilena when I realized this was a duology. Not exactly my proudest moment, but I’m absolutely stunned and heartbroken by the intricate weaving of Cypress’s storytelling about an assassin who’s cold through and through and a girl who’s torn between her heart and herself.
Where do I even talk about first? There were so many things about Death Marked that I love, and so many things that absolutely crushed me–among them, the choice Ilena had to make. It’s one that presses down on her from the moment the story starts. She’s torn between two sides, neither inherently right or inherently wrong, but both logical in their reasonings. If I’m being honest, even I had trouble picking a side. Sorin and his assassins killed children. They killed innocents in their goal to bring the Empire down to its knees–an empire that was stealing lives and stealing magic itself. And then we have Ilena with her skill and talent in magic, but nothing to call her own except the heart of a man who would kill those she loved if he had to. The decision weighs on her throughout the novel, questions of “what if?” plaguing her mind. What if she betrayed him? What if he betrayed her? What if the Empire wasn’t as evil as she’d thought? She’s grown up thinking it was cruel and merciless, fell in love with a man whose mission was to tear it down, but when she arrives, she realizes that not everything about it is bad.
Oh Ilena. It wasn’t just that decision that weighed on her either. Sorin and her relationship can only be described as star-crossed and tremulous. Sorin is firm in his belief and faith in his goal while Ilena isn’t so sure. I can’t say much about their relationship in this book because of all the plot points that hinge on it, but I will say that their reluctant love for each other absolutely broke me. View Spoiler »
Can I have a paragraph dedicated to Sorin alone? Because dear God I love him. He’s such a complex character and almost cruel in a way. But every time it comes to Ilena he just seems to melt and soften, if only a little. Nowadays, assassins in YA are so easily swayed by the people they love, but Sorin was…wow. He’s possibly one of the best written assassins I’ve seen since Celaena. And then we have his whole yearning for Ilena…even as she contemplates betraying him. We get hints from his POV, but honestly? More. I need more. I need so much more Sorin. I honestly can’t deal with my feelings about Sorin guys. Except more.
As for the plot? OH political intrigue of political intrigue. There are so many times in Death Marked where Ilena was this close to getting murdered on the spot–whether by a sorceress or an assassin, you never know. I was on my toes the entire time and while there aren’t any major plot twists, the plot went in so many directions I never could’ve predicted–especially that end. Cypress is honestly a hero in my book now. I will read anything she writes, especially after I loved Mistwood. Oh my GOSH I can’t even with my feels, excuse me.
Death Marked (and for that matter, Death Sworn) are books I’d absolutely recommend to anyone who loves their high fantasy filled with thrills and assassins you love, but can’t quite trust. And now I’m going to say the one thing that should get everyone running–I loved this book just as much as I loved Throne of Glass. It’s just as intriguing, the use of magic is a bit new, and the assassins? Hardcore and swoony. While I wouldn’t call it “epic” it’s still stunning and one I’d shove in your face at a moment’s glance.
SORIN X ILENA FOREVER.