The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso

The Tethered Mage by Melissa CarusoThe Tethered Mage (Swords and Fire #1) by Melissa Caruso
Published by Orbit on October 24th 2017
Genres: Fantasy
Pages: 480
Format: Ebook
Source: NetGalley

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. 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 a spellbinding new fantasy series.

The Tethered Mage is the first book in a series, set in a world where magic is scarce, and those who wield the power are tightly controlled by the ruler of the land. They are known as falcons, and when their talents are discovered they are bound to someone who is able to control their use of magic – a Falconer.

The main character of the novel is a young noblewoman who is busy going about her stereotypically air-headed lifestyle when she is rudely interrupted by a fire warlock attempting to burn the city to the ground. Of course, she is doing it in self-defence, but that seems an unnecessarily violent way of going about it, so our erstwhile heroine tethers the warlock, and thus begins a hate-hate relationship between them as they each learn to control their abilities.

There is a whole lot of courtly intrigue, and pomp and circumstance in this novel, which really isn’t my thing, and I felt that it dragged out unnecessarily as a result. The author has some interesting ideas, but so much of the tension seems thoroughly contrived as a result of the magic system that is used in the book. I found the main character quite useless, as most of her power is derived from her access to someone else’s power – either from being the heir to a noble house, or from her Falcon’s magical abilities. She has relationships and friendships with a lot of other characters in the novel, but mostly she seems to drift through it as a spectator on this journey.

Zaira – the Falcon in question – on the other hand was a much more interesting character for me, and although we do get to learn a lot more about her backstory, I would rather have had her as the main character. But that wouldn’t work because of the contrivances of the magic and or the governance system.

At the end of the day, I just felt like this was a pretty forgettable novel that took far too long to go basically nowhere. There is some sort of phoney war going on, but not as you’d really know it based on the more romantic elements the author chooses to spend most of her time on. I would need to find some very strong reasons to go and read the others in the series.

I received a review copy from the publisher through NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

Rating Report
Overall: two-half-stars

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