Disclaimer: Even though this book was released on March 4, 2014 I read the advanced reader's copy. There are probably some minor differences between the advanced reader's copy and the published version.
...I'm going to leap into the amazon summary to get this started, "When a young sorceress is exiled to teach magic to a clan of assassins, she will find that secrets can be even deadlier than swords. From the critically acclaimed Leah Cypess comes a dangerous and eerie fantasy about murder, shocking discoveries, and fiery star-crossed romance that readers of Cinda Williams Chima and Robin LaFevers won't be able to put down.
Ileni is losing her magic. And that means she's losing everything: her position as the rising star of her people, her purpose in life, and even the young man she loves. Sent to the assassins' cave, hidden deep within the mountains, she expects no one will ever hear from her again. The last two sorcerers sent died within weeks of each other. Accidents? Or something more sinister? As Ileni navigates the dangers—both natural and human—of the caves, she'll discover secrets that have been kept for decades. And she'll find an ally in Sorin, the deadly young man who could be the assassins' next leader. With Sorin determined to protect her, sparks—magical and romantic—will fly. But will even he understand the choice she must make in the end?" AMAZON LINK OF JUSTICE
So the way this book reads, I frequently wondered if I was reading the second book in the series just based off of everything that was already happening in the world.
BUT it turns out it is the first book, and the reading quickly clues you in to the state of the world. Kind of.
The book begins with Ileni entering the cave of the assassins where she is supposed to train those who have magical abilities to use them to better their fighting skills.
The last two magic masters who were sent there have died too quickly for their time there, and as Ileni is losing her magic, the impression is that there will be no big loss if she's killed trying to discover who killed the prior two magic masters.
So it's kind of like a suicide mission but more like Ileni trying to make the most of the rest of her life? It's complicated.
Ileni and Sorin have very interesting interactions as Ileni has lost the purpose in her life as she was raised to be a magic user first and foremost and now that she's losing her magic, she doesn't know her purpose in life.
Sorin on the other hand knows he lives to serve the master and do what is necessary to remove the empire.
The clash of their wills was pretty awesome to watch.
Then the world building and tone of the book was well set as most of it took place in the caves of the assassins and the constant fear that Ileni had as well as the action (they're assassins, people are going to fight) were vivid and seemed realistic.
This was definitely a story that I had great difficulty putting down at any time.