Release Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Genre: Young Adult, Fantasy
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.
Probably 3.5 Cauldrons
DEATH MARKED is the sequel & conclusion to the Death Sworn duology. A journey that has seen 17-year old Ileni exiled from her Renegai home, to landing among assassins who desire to take down the Empire, to entering the hive of the Empire itself searching for a way to destroy their power source. Things haven't exactly been easy for Ileni since the beginning. She lost her magic, was sent off to die, faced lies and betrayal, found love, and was forced to kill someone in order to save her life.
DEATH MARKED picks up 3 days after Ileni left the assassins cave. Ileni is soon caught by Imperial Sorceress Karyn (who we met in Death Sworn), and brought to the Academy of Sorcery. Ileni finds that there are a whole lot of questions to answer, choices to be made, and new characters to be meet. Ileni has no power of her own anymore, but finds that if she draws on lodestones, she's just as powerful as other more advanced sorcerers. For Ileni, she must find out how to destroy the Empires source of power, but ends up finding out more than she expected.
DEATH MARKED shows that Ileni faces a whole slew of choices that aren't necessarily easy. Will she choose to become the weapon necessary to defeat the Empire? Will she turn her back on Sorin, who she may love but doesn't necessarily trust, and join the Empire who has been depicted as the big bad wolf ready to gobble up little boys and girls for lunch? Who can she really trust when all she's found so far is hurt, misery, and heart break? Will she accept how the Empire takes its power, or will she find another avenue to a higher purpose?
Ileni’s struggles with she believes in and is really tested in DEATH MARKED. Why would anyone want to put their life on the line for the Empire or the Assassins who won't stop killing people no matter what the cost is? As I was reading this book, I was kind of shaking my head over Ileni's actions, but considering how her life has changed since losing her magic, I can't fault her entirely. Thus, we find a very indecisive character who doesn't really have anyone to help her make tough decisions.
The world that Cypess leaves us with, is not entirely black or white, or even gray. It's not entirely good, or entirely bad. There's more to it than meets the eyes, which leaves Ileni utterly confused and struggling with what has happened to her since being banished and sent off to die. There is too much at stake for Ileni just to flip a coin and say, that's what my choice is and I'm sticking to it. One could say that this is what free choice is really about. The freedom to choose our own paths without anyone else telling us how to eat, what to wear, or who to love, or to make a choice between two forces that have their own baggage to deal with.
I loved Evin and his brother Girad who we meet at the Academy. Evin is a powerful sorcerer, and his brother is cute as a little puppy. I didn't mind all that much that Sorin was basically a bit player instead of a key ingredient like he was in Death Sworn. I have heard other people saying that there is a bit of a love triangle involved in this story. Don't believe everything you read. It's just not true. While Ileni has had her share of love interests, Tellis, Sorin, and perhaps Evin in the near future, they don't happen while she is with anyone else.
Perhaps one should temper their expectations at a happy ending and that everything will be wrapped up in a nice little basket with plenty of pretty bunnies to go along with it. The ending leaves room and possibilities for another book should Cypess decide to return to this world. I have said this before, I shall say this again to the moaning of those reading this review, I don't like open ended endings. I think it's the lazy way to cut and move onto something else. I like to see my characters ride off into the sunset. I don't really mind if an author chooses to write important characters off by killing them. At least I know what happens next, and can move on.
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