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Tuesday, October 24, 2017

The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso


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.

Publication Date: October 24th, 2017
Imprint: Orbit Books
Publisher: Orbit
Genre: Fantasy
Received From: Netgalley in exchange for honest feedback
My Rating: 5/5

The Tethered Mage is full of politics and intrigue, plots and deceptions, magic and determination. The setting gives the feel of a collection of Italianate city-states in structure with different rulers over different cities coming into conflict with a potential rebellion on the horizon as the general backdrop to the story.

Amalia Cornaro is the daughter of one of the Council of Nine, intended to take her mother's place on the council eventually, her whole life thus far has been surrounded by the intrigues of court.  She would much rather have her nose in a book, puzzling out artificing projects and remaining blissfully unaware of the Council's working, though she knows that is not to be.  She likes to travel the city incognito, and it is during one such escapade that in trying to do a good deed, she accidentally links herself and Zaira together forever in a way that neither expected or wanted.

Zaira is difficult and uncooperative from the very beginning.  Amalia tries to make the best of a bad situation, but despairs that Zaira may never come around to the partnership they need to have.  Even so she continues to try and find ways to make Zaira's life better and earn her trust.  It is this unlikely pairing of personalities that drives the development of Amalia's character.  She is an heiress that has never wanted for any luxury, and has taken the Falcon/Falconer relationship for granted as part of life, though she had no thought of being one herself.  When confronted by someone who feels trapped and compelled against their will to accept this magical and physical binding, rather than being grateful to be raised in circumstance, it is confusing for her and she must alter her world view.  This willingness and desire to understand and accommodate is what made Amalia an attractive character to me.  She matures through the story from a daughter who follows her Mother's every order, to a strong young woman who will be capable of taking her place on the council some day, making her own decisions and standing firm for what she believes in.

There were some side characters that I hope we see more of in future books, I always enjoy when the secondary characters engender that interest in me.  This was a very satisfying historical feeling fantasy that I'm looking forward to continuing in the next book due out next year, The Defiant Heir.

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