Today I'm thrilled to be a part of the promotional tour for Death Sworn, the newest young adult fantasy novel from Leah Cypess. This was a darkly fascinating read for me, but before I get to my thoughts on the book itself, I thought I would share with all of you the top three ways protagonist Ileni handles her time in the Assassins' Caves far, far better than I would.
Be sure and check out the bottom of the post for a list of all the participating blogs as well as the details on a fantastic giveaway!
THE TOP 3 THINGS THAT WOULD MAKE ME
A POOR SUBSTITUTE FOR ILENI
A POOR SUBSTITUTE FOR ILENI
• The Dark - I'm not afraid of the dark per se, however, I do tend to invent epic and completely illogical explanations for any and all sounds I hear when alone in the dark, which often leads to my assuming the fetal position and rocking. A creak on the stairs? Clearly I'm seconds away from a gruesome death via axe murderer. A scratching sound at the window? Sweet baby Jesus, a creature of some kind is trying to break in and its grotesque and freakishly long fingernails are going to tear me apart, and OH MY GOD, what if my dogs try to protect me and get hurt in the process? As you can see, noises in the dark cause my mental stability to decrease at a fairly alarming rate.
Ileni, on the other hand, handles herself in the dark extraordinarily well. She's always on alert but yet never overreacts like some people whose name may or may not rhyme with Benny. She never lets her imagination run away with her and manages to keep a level head despite the dangers quite literally around every corner.
• Attitude - I have one. It often makes an appearance at inopportune moments, like when I should be professionally polite but can't quite manage to keep my snark from slipping out. Ileni has to deal with a class full of young men of various ages, some of whom are intent on proving they are bigger/badder/generally more awesome than she could ever hope to be. Instead of verbally putting them down in a most satisfying, if not entirely mature, way, Ileni continually takes the high road and refuses to rise to their most tempting bait. She manages to walk away from each class with her head held high, whereas I would walk away with my mouth stretched abnormally wide in order to accommodate my foot.
• Secret keeping/Sleuthing - As established by the previous bullet point, I have trouble keeping my mouth shut when it would behoove me to do so. While this typically applies to situations where sarcasm is not the entirely appropriate response, it also extends to keeping secrets. I can't do it. I have to buy all my Christmas presents for other people just a couple days before the holiday otherwise I inevitably blurt out what everyone can expect to get from me as soon as I've left the store. Ileni keeps things much closer to her chest, not in an irritating way but rather as a means of self-preservation, and I couldn't help but admire the way she slowly but surely put the various pieces of the puzzle together without ever tipping her hand to those who would easily see her dead.
To sum up, Ileni is a far stronger young adult heroine than I could ever hope to be :-) *pats self on back*
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Death Sworn #1
Available March 4th
Source: eARC from publisher for review
When Ileni lost her magic, she lost everything: her place in society, her purpose in life, and the man she had expected to spend her life with. So when the Elders sent her to be magic tutor to a secret sect of assassins, she went willingly, even though the last two tutors had died under mysterious circumstances.
But beneath the assassins’ caves, Ileni will discover a new place and a new purpose… and a new and dangerous love. She will struggle to keep her lost magic a secret while teaching it to her deadly students, and to find out what happened to the two tutors who preceded her. But what she discovers will change not only her future, but the future of her people, the assassins… and possibly the entire world.
Death Sworn is an intriguing story, the singular setting of the Assassins' Caves adding an intimacy that would have been missing should we have found ourselves in the middle of a vast fantasy world, but though we spend our time in close proximity to many of the characters, they exist somewhere just outside the reach of our grasping fingers. Though that may sound like a flaw, the distance Ms. Cypess creates between us and everyone else save for Ileni is clearly deliberately done, leaving us fumbling for purchase with the assassins just as Ileni herself is. As a result, we feel a kinship with Ileni throughout, warmed by her seeming progress with her guide and protector Sorin, and then a short time later surprised by the reminder of how cold he can be. While there is a bit of push and pull with regard to their relationship–something that’s usually quite frustrating–in this case there’s an indefinable added layer to his behavior that piques our curiosity rather than raising our ire (for the most part).
Ileni is our anchor in this story, her questions regarding the startlingly fanatical loyalty and submission to the man the assassins call the master mirroring our own to make us feel as though we’re on this potentially futile mission together. She has trouble wrapping her mind around Sorin and the rest of the assassins’ willingness to do anything and everything their mysterious master asks of them–including handing over their lives when he requires it–just as we do, but she also recognizes in herself her own previously unwavering dedication to the beliefs of her people. She plays it smart with Sorin throughout, lowering her guard on occasion without dropping it completely, and she remains vigilant even when she desperately hopes her caution will prove to be unnecessary.
There’s a murky quality to this story, almost as though we’re viewing it through frosted glass rather than clear, and where this would normally be a drawback in any other story, for an inexplicable reason it works to Death Sworn’s advantage, leaving us on edge as we read and wanting more when we finds ourselves on the last page.
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I wrote my first story in first grade. The narrator was an ice-cream cone in the process of being eaten. In fourth grade, I wrote my first book, about a girl who gets shipwrecked on a desert island with her faithful and heroic dog (a rip-off of both The Black Stallion and all the Lassie movies, very impressive).
After selling my first story (Temple of Stone) while in high school, I gave in to my mother’s importuning to be practical and majored in biology at Brooklyn College. I then went to Columbia Law School and practiced law for almost two years at Debevoise & Plimpton LLP, a large law firm in New York City. I kept writing and submitting in my spare time, and finally, a mere 15 years after my first short story acceptance, I sold my first novel to Greenwillow Books (HarperCollins).
I live in Brookline, Massachusetts (right outside of Boston) with my husband Aaron, a researcher and doctor at the Joslin Diabetes Center, and our three children.
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One Grand Prize pack including signed copies of all 3 of Leah’s books (Mistwood, Nightspell, and Death Sworn), plus signed SWAG for all 3 books as well! Please enter via the Rafflecopter form below. Giveaway is US only.
a Rafflecopter giveaway
Be sure and check out the rest of the participating blogs:
2/24/2014- Two Chicks on Books- Original Content
2/25/2014- Mundie Moms-Original Content
2/26/2014- Bookish- Original content
2/27/2014- Fiktshun- Original Content
2/28/2014- Magical Urban Fantasy Reads-Review or Original Content
3/3/2014- Supernatural Snark- Original content
3/4/2014- Page Turners - Original Content
3/5/2014- Tales of a Ravenous Reader- Original content
3/6/2014- YA Sisterhood- Review3/7/2014- A Backwards Story- Original content