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March 6, 2015

Shelley Liked It: Death Marked by Leah Cypess

Series: Death Sworn 2
Format: E-Book, 400 pages
Release Date: March 3, 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Source: Edelweiss/Publisher
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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31 comments:

  1. I don't like reading duologies. The first time I read books under that category I was disappointed that the story ended so fast. Like, the characters weren't developed well either but I like them. It's just that when I read a duology, I can't accept the book to end and that saddens me.

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    1. I have the same problem. If you write 2 books, why not 3? Why not just write one complete book @ 500 pages, vs (2) at 250 pages.

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  2. It is hard to love a book when you are constantly questioning why someone is making such stupid choices. ;)

    I am glad overall you liked this though, wonderful honest review!

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    1. Agreed, and thank YOU, for stopping by!

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  3. Open endings don't work for me either. I need closure, damn it!

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    1. I do too! It's like eating a piece of red velvet cake, and then discovering that someone else stole the rest of the damn cake!

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  4. I'm happy you enjoyed this book overall. I can understand your displeasure at how the author ended things though. It doesn't seem fair to say this is the end but not really provide an ending...or at least not a satisfying one.

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  5. I have had the first book for ages but haven't read it yet. It's too bad it doesn't have more closure, that's really disappointing for me.

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    1. There is PLENTY of room for more story. Especially the romance part I mentioned. Does it pan out? Does Ileni find allies?

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  6. Ah, the endless debate of open-ended novels :) I feel your pain, I know it can be frustrating - though, personally, I don't mind it that much. But I do have a problem with indecisive characters. I like a girl who can make tough decision and own them. Loving your review - haven't read the series, but you do make it sound good.

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  7. Sounds like an OK read, sadly I'm not a big fan of open - ended novels and I'm always glad I didn't encounter one on the blind, so thank you for the heads up.
    I really don't like feeling unsatisfied when I finish a book :(
    Thank you Shelly!

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  8. I skipped over most of the review because I have both books but I haven't got to them yet. Was book 1 good?

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    1. Yes! Sorry, I totally forgot to link my review to this post. I suck sometimes!

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  9. I don't like open ended endings either :(

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  10. Yeah open endings aren't for me either. Some authors I've seen have pulled it off but most of the time I'm left going wait, wha?!! That's it?

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  11. Despite longing for more a wrapped up ending, I am glad you enjoyed the characters and world. Hmm, maybe another book will develop

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  12. I planned on reading the duology because the first book interests me but after reading your review and seeing that it ends with an open ended ending I think I'll pass.

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  13. The cover for this book reminds me so much of the US version of Trial by Fire! How frustrating there was an open ending, but if the author picks up later on then I guess that would be okay. Great review Shelley!

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    1. Thanks, Jenn. I appreciate you stopping by and commenting!

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  14. Sometimes it's a bit complicated with conclusion but in a whole it sounds interesting. I'm not that much into fantasy so not sure I'll try it. But it's interesting to see it's a duology, we don't have a lot like that.

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    1. That's very true. As long as they tie up loose ends, I can deal with duology's.

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  15. I can enjoy open endings when it's not just a possibility for an author to write a third one, should the series be successful !

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    1. I've noticed a trend where duologies have apparently become popular. I guess that's fine if you can't fit your entire story into one book.

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  16. I'm not to thrilled with open endings but I've enjoyed Cypess's writing in the past - which was also open ended - so I think I would give this a try anyway.

    Karen @For What It's Worth

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