Friday, 6 February 2015

Review: Death Marked by Leah Cypess

Title: Death Marked (Death Sworn #2)
Author: Leah Cypess

Release date: March 3rd 2015
Publisher: Greenwillow Books
Genre: Young Adult Fantasy
Format: eARC
Pages: 220

Source: Edelweiss

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.
It had, in the end, been about death. About who needed it, and who was ashamed of it, and who celebrated it. About who might, someday, move past it.
Death Marked is the sequel to Death Sworn, and it's the conclusion of the series, no matter the fact that many people think it left too much open. I think it left just the right amount open, and I liked this book just as much as the first one, if not more.

Ileni now lives with the Imperial sorcerers at the Academy. She's not a prisoner exactly, because she wants to be there to find out if they truly are evil or not. Ileni has no power of her own anymore, and has to draw from lodestones. But where do the lodestones get their power from? Ileni has a lot of questions and seeks to find the answers. But that puts her in danger, and what she finds is nothing like what she expected.

Ileni has a lot of hiding to do in this book, more than in the previous one. At the Academy, only Karyn knows she was with the assassins. No one else can find out, because the Imperial sorcerers and the assassins are at war on opposite sides. What bothered me here was that Ileni seemed to keep switching sides, and at one point I didn't even know if she was pretending to betray knowledge or if she really was. I get where she's coming from, because both sides have their flaws, but still. She's very fickle-minded. But Ileni still has her morals intact, and there are things done on both sides that she cannot condone.

We don't see too much of Sorin, because he's still back at the Caves, and is now the new master after Ileni killed the previous one. He communicates with Ileni sometimes, and we can see that they care about each other a lot, even love one another, but both consider it a weakness. I loved that this book doesn't have a fairy-tale love story where the love between the main characters can conquer anything. There is way too much going on, and Ileni doesn't know if she's on the right side.

I wish we'd seen more of Sorin, of how he's handling everything at the Caves, how he's dealing with being the new master. And how he's making sure Absalm doesn't control him. Sorin has a lot of difficult decisions to make as we see in the book, but I just can't agree with the extremity. And neither can Ileni. Which causes quite a bit of tension, and it makes Ileni really think about what she's doing.

There are new characters, sorcerers training alongside Ileni - Cyn and Lis, who are twin sisters, and Evin, who is Karyn's nephew. The four of them definitely make an interesting group! I loved Evin. He's extremely powerful, and all magic comes easily to him. Moreover, all of it is his own. But Evin isn't interested in power, and that's what made me like him more. Ironically, it's also what made Ileni hate him. Yeah, she hated him because he had so much power but didn't use it for the 'right' reasons. Ileni's jealousy of Evin got on my nerves quite a bit, but I'm glad it tapered off later. Her hatred of him was really irrational, and there was this one point where he kind of saved her life and it made her hate him more. Which I really didn't get. Oh well, either way Evin is awesome and he's one of the highlights of the book in my opinion.

The ending is left pretty open, but for the first time I liked it that way. Normally, I need closure of some sort. Death Marked, though, felt right ending the way it does. With sorrow, but hope too. A bittersweet kind of ending, depending on how you look at it. For the romantics out there - you probably won't be too happy with the way things turned out. Don't worry, it's not as bad as I'm making it sound! But I found it to be realistic, which is the best way to go. At last, a realistic YA situation! Death Marked has definitely left its mark on me (hah) and I applaud Leah Cypess for giving us the right ending.

*Thank you to HarperCollins for providing me with an eARC for review*

Rating: 4/5

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