The Tethered Mage

The Tethered Mage

by Melissa Caruso


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The first book in a spellbinding fantasy trilogy for fans of The Queen of the Tearling and The Red Queen, where two young women — a mage with coveted powers, and the scion of a powerful family — are magically bound in service to the Empire.

Magic is scarce in the Raverran Empire, and those born with such powers are strictly controlled — taken as children and conscripted into the Falcon army, to be used as weapons in times of war.

Zaira has lived her life on the streets to avoid this fate, hiding her mage mark and thieving to survive. But hers is a rare and dangerous magic, one that threatens the entire Empire.

Lady Amalia Cornaro was never meant to be a Falconer. Heiress and scholar, she was born into a treacherous world of political machinations.

But fate has bound the heir and the mage. And as war looms on the horizon, a single spark could turn their city into a pyre.

The Tethered Mage is the first novel in Caruso's debut series, Swords and Fire.

The Swords and Fire series

The Tethered Mage
The Defiant Heir
The Unbound Empire

Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780316466875
Publisher: Orbit
Publication date: 10/24/2017
Series: Swords and Fire Series , #1
Pages: 480
Sales rank: 253,385
Product dimensions: 5.40(w) x 8.20(h) x 1.30(d)

About the Author

Melissa Caruso was born on the summer solstice and went to school in an old mansion with a secret door, but despite this auspicious beginning has yet to develop any known superpowers. Melissa has spent her whole life creating imaginary worlds, and in addition to writing is also an avid LARPer and tabletop gamer.

She graduated with honors in Creative Writing from Brown University and has an MFA in Fiction from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Melissa's first novel, The Tethered Mage, was shortlisted for a Gemmell Morningstar award for best fantasy debut.

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The Tethered Mage 4.3 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 11 reviews.
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
Before I get into the nitty gritty, you must read this series. It's incredible. Here's why. First, you are in for an action packed book with humor, political mystery, and vast character growth that will make you cheer and cry for these beautiful women who come into their own. Amalia Cornaro is the daughter of a fearsome political mastermind, but she's far from being her mother. She prefers to read and practice artifice designs. You can imagine her frustration when she winds up becoming a falconer to a fire warlock who wants nothing to do with her. Now Amalia must carefully navigate being a political power piece while maintaining her independence as the Cornaro heir. Not only this, but she's got to do it while trying to win the trust of her Falcon, Zaira, who doesn't trust her one bit. There are so many different characters in this book who all have history with the Cornaros or the Raverran empire, and Amalia's growth comes from trying to learn how she can save Raverra from war while also protecting her Falcon from being an unwilling weapon of war. I really loved this book because it was female empowerment mixed with some romance and politics. I typically do not really enjoy heavy political books but this wasn't politics for the sake of politics. It was intrigue and how does Amalia learn and grow in this setting. The author really used what was happening in the environment to develop extremely interesting characters. That's what is supposed to happen, but rarely does it actually happen this well. If this was all too long-winded then just read the book. You won't regret it!
Anonymous More than 1 year ago
A new author for me. Welldeveloped characters and a new universe w/word craft that evoked reality as the reader became enmeshed. Truly enjoyed it.
Anonymous 4 months ago
Joel Bour More than 1 year ago
This is the best book I have read in a very long time. If you're a fan of the genre, it is a must read. I am a huge fan of Melissa's writing style and story telling. She has constructed a beautiful and compelling world that always drew me in and was so hard to leave. This book has everything I could possibly want in a fantasy. The premise is unique and very well thought out. It has plenty of action and suspense and clever plot twists. The dialogues is smart, humorous at times, and gives you plenty to think about. Magic is, of course, a big part of the book, but it also contains very intriguing political plots and very insightful social commentary. It doesn't pound away at any sort of message, but it gives the reader so much to think about and conclude on their own about our own humanity. I very much look forward to reading the rest of this series.
Kamisha More than 1 year ago
I genuinely enjoyed reading this story, there were a lot of elements to the story that I felt were unique and interesting. I loved the magic system and the way that it was interwoven with the political system of this world. In this world mages and their powers are controlled or tethered by artifice-created jesses that their falconers have the ability to loose when they deem appropriate. All mage-marked children must be moved to the Mews (a facility where all the falcons in the Raverran Empire live) to grow up as falcons, where they will be assigned a falconer and their powers will be harnessed as they grow older. This system is utilized by the Raverran Empire to essentially create their own army of mages. Each mage is used in different ways, whether as a soldier (as with most fire and storm warlocks and vivomancers) or as a creator of weapons and other implements for the Empire (in the case of artificers). This system is questionable at best and Caruso certainly explores that with the character of Zaira, who never truly warms to the idea of her captivity. The political system and the machinations of the Empire and its enemies in this story were complex and intricate. Because of the power Zaira and Amalia possess and also because of Amalia’s birthright as the Cornaro heir, the characters are thrown headfirst into this political world and it’s dangers when neither one of them ever wanted any part in it. I loved the interactions between Zaira and Amalia and the stark contrast we find between Amalia’s view of the world as a member of the elite and Zaira’s view coming from a less privileged side of their world. While this aspect of their story could have been frustrating or disingenuine, Caruso manages to tell both character’s sides of the story in genuine and engaging ways. This is one of those books where I was truly surprised to feel attachment to not one but all of the main characters. The internal journeys that we see both Amalia and Zaira go on throughout the story are both so well done and developed. Amalia goes from being a bookish scholar who only gets involved in her mother’s political world when absolutely necessary, to putting her intelligence to use and accepting her role in the Empire along with her newfound power as a Falconer. Zaira goes from being a snarky, violent, and impetuous fire warlock to finally allowing a select few to see her vulnerabilities and ultimately accepting that she needs help in learning how to harness her powers. Though I rooted for both characters, Zaira was definitely my favorite; how could she not be with her snarkiness and intense loyalty to her beloved dog!?
DreamsNPurple More than 1 year ago
The Tethered Mage is the first book in the Sword and Fire series. Amalia is heir to her mother's place on the Raverran Council of Nine, but right now she's more interested in Alchemy than politics. The Mage Marked are normally taken into the Mews. as children. They are called falcons and the people who "jess" them are called the falconeers. The Falcons are used powerful weapons to deter other empires from attacking Raverra. Zaira, a fire mage, has escaped being caught until now. Unfortunately, it's Amalia who jesses her. Her destiny is changed from that day forward. The tethered mage was a well-written book. Its pace is pretty steady but does fall a little slow in the middle. I enjoyed the world creation. There are some twists and turns that were surprising. I am looking forward to the next book.
AngRI More than 1 year ago
My Review: I really haven't seen much about this book but was drawn in by the cover and found the synopsis intriguing enough to give it a shot. I am so glad that I did! While this book has a lot of magic in it, there is also a lot of political intrigue, behind closed door dealings and a lot of puzzles to figure out, my favorite combinations in a book. The characters are so widely varied from political powerhouses and super spies to loyal military members to reluctant/cynical citizens trapped in the system. I thoroughly loved all the thought that went into reading this book, there were a lot of twists and turns to figure out. They were so carefully done you could figure them out but not so easy that you saw it coming a mile away (at least for me). The magic system is really unique, it blends outright power with a little bit of artistry and a touch of steampunk like devices. Then of course you have the element of Falcons and Falconers for an added element of connection and tension throughout the book. This is one that I highly recommend and cannot wait until the next book! My Rating: This was so much more than I expected! I love that it didn't get bogged down with romance and that there was so much use of mental abilities as opposed to just fighting and magic. If you liked The Winner's Curse definitely check this one out! I give it a rating of Four Paws!
IrregularReader More than 1 year ago
Amalia Cornaro is heir to a great family name, wealth, and untold political influence within the Raverran Empire. However, she has been content to leave most of the political machinations to her brilliant and ruthless mother, and concentrate on her studies of arcane magic. However, when a powerful fire warlock threatens the city of Raverra, Amalia finds herself drafted into containing the warlock’s magic, and in so doing inadvertently becomes a “Falconer”, tethered to the fire warlock and responsible for controlling her powers. Thrown into the middle of a political firestorm (couldn’t help myself), Amalia must use everything her mother ever taught her to prevent a civil war within the empire she loves. This was an enormously fun fantasy novel, and is the first in the new series. Surprisingly, this is also Melissa Caruso’s debut novel. The story, while ostensibly YA, manages to avoid the pitfalls so common in the genre, and delivers an entertaining and suspenseful read. Caruso has built up an interesting and complex world, and her characters are lovingly crafted and more complex than one usually sees in the Young Adult genre. The book reminded me very much of Dragon Age, the Bioware RPG game (which from me is a huge compliment). I especially enjoyed the way magic is dealt with in Caruso’s world, and the push and pull between Amalia, and her “Falcon”, Zaira. Fans of YA or the fantasy genre looking for a bright new talent should definitely pick up this book. An advance copy of this book was provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.
TheLiteraryPhoenix More than 1 year ago
Lady Amalia Cornaro did not ask to be a Falconer. When balefire is starting to consume the city, she acts instinctively. Her choice is to become entangled into a role she knows she cannot have, or let her city burn. There is no choice, and she snaps the restraining jess around Zaira's wrist without hesitation. New problems arise - Zaira doesn't want to be a Falcon (a mage of the Empire) and she is not going to come quietly. There are more pressing things afoot than a disgruntled mage - noble children from the neighboring city of Ardence have been taken and someone has forged a note claiming Raverra is to blame. The city is already restless and ready to break away from the Empire.. When demands to stand down are ignored, Amalia and her Falcon are sent to Ardence as a warning. But it may not be enough. Zaira is the unspoken heroine of this story. Have you ever read a book where you thought, "The main character is good, but this book would be EVEN BETTER if this other character was the POV?" That is exactly how I felt about Zaira (our namesake "tethered mage"). She was bright and passionate, witty and disagreeable and I thought she was fantastic. Far more interesting than the baleful Amalia who tucks her tail between her legs and does whatever her mother demands. That said, all the characters are different levels of interesting. There is nothing wrong with Amalia - I just happened to like Zaira better. Domenic is a great character, as is Istrella. I really went for the "sidekick" style characters in this book more than the main leads. The fantasy world is incredible. I'm a sucker for a well built fantasy world. Give me monarchies and magic and great universities and oh my goodness, here, have my heart. Epic fantasy is my niche. I love it. This is a well built epic fantasy. In The Tethered Mage, Caruso chooses to focus on the political aspects of the story. However, she plays great attention and detail to her magic system as well, which is essential in a good epic fantasy. I found the Falcons to be the most interesting part of the story and am hoping to hear more about them and the Witch Kings in the next book. It was a little chatty, but I loved it. The Tethered Mage took me a little while to get into. There is a lot of dialogue in this book. Dialogue isn't really my favorite... I like a good balance, but the writing world is definitely trending more to dialogue. There were good questions asked within the book, and I definitely loved Zaira. I don't know if I would have been as invested in this book without her. It's a bit on the longer side, but that is to be expected in an epic fantasy. The author needs proper time to build their world as well as the regular story, so I forgive the length. It's definitely not a George R. R. Martin length! I think that The Tethered Mage will appeal to readers who enjoyed Cinda China Williams' Seven Realms series as well as fans of Elizabeth Bunce's Thief Errant series. Personally, I'm looking forward to reading the next book in the spring.
taramichelle More than 1 year ago
The Tethered Mage was one of the best books I’ve read lately. While the second third was a bit slow as the web of intrigue was established and investigated, the last third flew by and astonished me with the brilliant of some of the political maneuvering. When I turned the last page, I seriously debated going back and starting over because I adored this world so much. It sent me into a serious reading slump because I couldn't find anything that was as intricately woven and brilliantly detailed. I was absolutely thrilled to see how Caruso brought this world to life. This fantasy world is based on the city-state system of Venice, with a Doge and a Council in power. The world-building in general was fantastic. I would have liked a bit more explanation as to how magic worked but, given the care Caruso took to develop the rest of her world, I'm assuming that future installments will expand that further. Some readers may find the middle of the book a bit slow since there aren't many action scenes. However, the political maneuvering that takes place during this portion of the book sets up an explosive finale. I thought the plot and the writing in this book were both generally brilliant. The characters in general were all extremely well-written and vibrant. In particular, the relationship between Zaira and Amalia was so well done and I liked how it evolved. Amalia is the book-smart heir to one of the most powerful political families in the Raverran Empire. She's smart, strong, and politically adept. Zaira is a fire warlock who has hidden her powers for most of her life. She's passionate, bold, and not afraid to speak her mind. I loved seeing how they both developed and matured, both individually and together. The issue of the power imbalance between them was handled well. Additionally, the villains were nuanced, well-developed, and, perhaps most importantly, cleverly done. Plus there's a few adorable romances! The Tethered Mage was a brilliant beginning to what promises to be an incredible series. I can't wait to find out what happens next and I’m counting down the days until I have book two in my hands (at which point I will probably exhibit zero self-control and read it that day). It’s technically an adult fantasy novel but there’s definitely YA cross-over appeal. I’d recommend this for fans of spies, political intrigue, and excellent characters. *Disclaimer: I received this book for free from the publisher in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review.
pooled_ink More than 1 year ago
pooled ink Reviews: Keep your enemies close and your pawns closer. THE TETHERED MAGE is filled with traitors slithering through its pages and nothing is ever what one says. With several players, some bold faced and others pulling the strings out of sight, in this game of dominion, there is a constant strum of unrest, desperation, determination, and all set to the ticking of a clock. While Zaira refuses loyalty to her captors and Amalia desperately searches for a solution of peace, their enemies have great plans set into motion and are not at all concerned about getting a bit of blood on their hands. As the plot escalates, will true enemies be unveiled? Or will fire turn them all into naught but ashes? *Read my FULL review on my Wordpress site: Pooled Ink