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By Singing Light

Pretty much everything here originally appeared at my actual blog: By Singing Light. I particularly focus on upper middle-grade and young adult books. I also enjoy adult genre books, especially speculative fiction.

Currently reading

The Lost Tools of Learning and the Mind of the Maker
Dorothy L. Sayers
The Seventh Bride
T. Kingfisher
Hope in the Dark
Rebecca Solnit
Outrun the Moon
Stacey Lee
Midnight Thief
Livia Blackburne
The White Hart
Nancy Springer
The Great Wall Of Lucy Wu
Wendy Wan-Long Shang
Jim C. Hines
Elizabeth & Leicester: Power, Passion, Politics
Sarah Gristwood

Death Sworn by Leah Cypress

Death Sworn - Leah Cypess

I read and loved Leah Cypress’s first two books, Mistwood and Nightspell, when they came out, so I definitely went into Death Sworn with high hopes. I very much enjoy the mixture of fantasy politics, romance, and good prose that are her hallmarks. And I found that I did in fact like Death Sworn a good deal, but not exactly in the way that I expected to.


This is less of a review and more of a reaction; yours might be different.


- Ileni is a nice main character, unsure of herself in certain ways but with a very firm moral compass, despite her agonizing over certain elements of her upbringing. She’s also smart, which is refreshing, and she takes risks but in a calculated way that doesn’t annoy me.


- Cypress’s worldbuilding is, as always, extremely deft; she creates a complex interaction of cultures which I largely bought. Also, the system of magic was well thought out and I liked the costs and implications.


- I wished that the book had started in a different place, that we had actually seen the Renegai society while Ileni actually lived in it, rather than through flashbacks; it rendered the whole thing rather muted and kept it from having the emotional heft that it should.


- While I didn’t mind the romance, I also wasn’t head-over-heels in love with it either (err, no pun intended), and at times it felt a bit repetitive.


{- Incidentally, can anyone think of an example of a book where the main character meets a boy at the beginning and he doesn’t turn out to be the love interest? I feel like there is an obvious example, but I can’t quite think of it.}


- I was extremely surprised by the lack of resolution at the end; partly I hadn’t realized this was a series, and it’s very much the “things have happened, but there’s a lot to come” type of ending.


Generally, I liked this one but, as I hinted above, had a somewhat muted emotional reaction to it. The mystery part was fine; I didn’t guess the solution at all (I’m not sure it is guessable? Would be curious to know what others think). The romance was fine, the political interactions interesting. But I never found myself completely immersed in the world or the story. Sometimes when this happens, I can pinpoint why, and other times I’m really not sure. This is one of the times when I’m really not sure. I certainly intend to read the next book.


Book source: public library
Book information: 2014, HarperCollins; upper mg/YA (there’s some violence and threat of violence, but this shouldn’t bother the kid who’s read, for instance, the Attolia books, or Tolkien

Source: http://bysinginglight.wordpress.com/2014/04/25/death-sworn-by-leah-cypress