Last Updated on December 31, 2022 by ThoughtsStained
Ahhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhhh! *actual reaction after finishing The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso*
*attempts to calm down so she can properly write this review*
You have got to read this book.
I’ll let you in on a little secret: I actually, um, read this book before it was published.
(I know, right? This is probably one of the coolest claims of street cred I’ve ever had.)
I read a copy in the middle draft stages, as a beta reader thanks to my amazing internship with Naomi Davis. But even then, I could see how shiny every gem that decorated this crown of a story sparkled. With every draft, Caruso continued to polish and hone this story. Until it became the glorious beauty that, mere days ago, was published for the entire world to read.
Selfishly, I put it on hold at the library. Just so I could reread it just days after publication. Because that’s how desperately I wanted to return to the world of Raverra.
Here’s why you should read it.
Publisher: Orbit Books | Release Date: October 2017 | Pages: 438
Age Range: Adult | Genre: Fantasy | Format: Paperback | Source: Author
In the Raverran Empire, magic is scarce and those born with power are strictly controlled – taken as children and conscripted into the Falcon Army.
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.
War looms on the horizon. A single spark could turn their city into a pyre.
On the Page
Content warnings are written up by me, unless specified. Subject to being an incomplete list, though guided by referencing this list and trying to highlight as many as I can identify.
- The worldbuilding! Seriously, from the first page, you are just completely drawn into this world. It’s beautifully written. I love how we see so many aspects within this world, from the highest elite to the saddest pickpocket. (It gets even better when those juxtapositions clash and get mixed together. Which happens constantly in this book, continually pulling at your heartstrings and making your opinions switch and complicate and question and GAH).
- The beautiful magic system! Mage-marked innocents being conscripted through the magical power of jesses into the order of the Falconers. Thus, bound with someone without magic who has the power to control theirs. Magical Witch Lords in Vaskandar who hold power specifically because of their magic. A struggling populace in Ardence whose opinions–and loyalty–to the Serene Empire sway like the tide.
I know, right? How can so much yes fit into one book?
- The intricacy of the plot! This book is the definition of a page-turner. The ending is just…whoa. Everything is so perfectly placed, so wonderfully interwoven to deliver twists you don’t see coming.
- The budding relationship between Lady Amalia Cornaro and Zaira! The characters are, by far, my favorite aspect of this book. I love how three-dimensional every single one of them are. How quickly I’ve formed a very deep attachment for them. But Amalia and Zaira deserve special notice. Amalia for her growth and truly becoming the woman she’s been both raised and created herself to be. And Zaira for her sharp tongue, purposeful lack of social graces, fantastic wit and fearlessness regarding speaking the truth.
- To get absolute chills from the badass scene on page 342! I can’t write anything without giving this way. But holy goodness, I actually had to put the book down after reading that scene, because damn.
If you know me at all, you know I love books. You know I love reading. I love really fantastic stories told with a passionate voice that feels alive. You know I love fantasy stories that remind me why I write in the first place. Those that challenge my creativity by saying, “Hey, this is how it’s done. So hurry up and finish your novels so we can hang out at the bookstore and rip readers’ hearts out together, eh?”
(Because books talk to one another on the shelves. Obviously.)
You know I love characters that feel like friends (or enemies) by the end. Whose lives I become so invested in, they feel like friends. I love intricate plots, wonderful magic, colorful banter, romance. Those characters that challenge and complement one another and worlds I wish I could live in. I love to read hours past my bedtime because “one more chapter” has unspokenly become my mantra, yet again.
And you know, if I book manages to do all of these things, that I’ll talk your ear off until the end of time about how you need to read it.
Well, The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso is that book, friends. And more.