Melissa Caruso

The Tethered Mage

Author: Melissa Caruso | Publisher: Orbit Books

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 could threaten 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.

I picked The Tethered Mage up on a whim while I was waiting out the heatwave in Waterstones. I wasn’t quite sure what to expect, as I’ve never heard of it, or the author, and really enjoyed it. Apparently, it’s her debut. It’s not going to exactly set the world alight, it certainly isn’t the most brilliant or innovative fantasy I’ve read this year, but it was a good, light read. I’m not surprised it got such good reviews.

The worldbuilding is really excellent. I feel like it was based on Venice and other parts of Italy – which made for some interesting comparisons. Stories are always just that bit more believable, they feel more real, if there’s a grain of truth. I thought that was a clever technique. And the descriptions of the palaces and cities had just the right amount of detail to embed the world in the reader’s mind, while leaving something to the imagination. Everything hung together and there were a consistent set of rules throughout.

The characters have some fairly predictable progression, as they grow in their relationships and maturity. They weren’t particularly memorable or multifaceted, and were quite stereotypically familiar, but that honestly didn’t spoil the book for me. There’s often something comforting about a familiar character trope or plot line, and that was the case here. I also liked the treatment of LGBTQ characters and relationships, which I thought was relatively broad ranging, quite subtly woven in, and treated with delicacy while still broaching the more difficult issues.

The plot itself is fast paced, well thought out, and with enough twists and turns to keep it interesting.

All in all, while not the best book I’ve ever read, it was well written, fast paced, interesting, and fun. I enjoyed The Tethered Mage very much.

Rating: 4/5

2 thoughts on “The Tethered Mage”

  1. It’s definitely there… it’s not the main theme but I like that it’s a normalised part of the worldbuilding. I don’t know if I’m just noticing LGBTQ themes now because we had a whole LGBTQ book theme in the blogosphere awhile ago…


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