A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
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.
I really enjoyed Death Sworn and was very excited to see where Cypess would take her characters and story. Overall, this book failed to live up to the first in the series. I wanted more about the Assassins, Sorin and world building.
I did enjoy seeing Ileni’s character growth and struggles and felt that Cypess has done a great job giving her a mixture of loyalty, guilt and passion. If this was the middle book in a series it would get a higher rating because I’d be eager to see what happened next. Knowing this is it I’m just left feeling dissatisfied and sad! There was so much more to develop. How can this be it?
In this sequel we see much less of the assassins though we do get a few chapters from Sorin though they are very short and really his character felt ignored. So much of the Death Sworn was set to show his growth and interactions with Ileni and in this book it was abandoned- he went to being a character Ileni knew rather than being someone prominent. I was so sad because he was my favorite character.
In Death Marked we get to see more about the Empire and are introduced to many new characters. I liked most of them and felt that Cypess did well in creating Evin especially. His character was easy to like and I enjoyed the humor he employed to cover his hurt. We find out if what Ileni has learned her whole life was true or not and we get to judge the Empire’s actions for ourselves. I enjoyed all of these aspects and while reading was absorbed.
I think it all boils down to this being a duology and focusing on Ileni. I think that if someone reading isn’t all that invested in Sorin they will enjoy these two books. I respect that this was the journey the author wanted for her characters but it left me wanting.
This feels like a case of it’s me not you for this book. The story was a good one but I can’t feel happy about it just because it abandoned so much I loved about Death Sworn. The ending felt abrupt and left so much more for me to question. Yes, all the major story lines were acknowledged, the character’s stories were mostly developed and concluded but for this reader it left me wanting so much more.