Monday, December 18, 2017

The Tethered Mage

The Tethered Mage is the first book in the Swords and Fire series, by Melissa Caruso, from Orbit Books.

I really enjoyed the heck out of this book.  The world building is fascinating and detailed, the magic system is internally cohesive and believable and the political machinations for power (very loosely based on the great dynasties of  renaissance Italy and environs) are well wrought and complex.

This is a substantial book, 438 pages, but tautly plotted and it never dragged. There are several plotlines, well interwoven into an epic story arc. I was very surprised that this is a debut novel; the author has a very strong voice and a gift with dialogue.

Other reviewers have done a very good job of describing the plot and characters.  I really enjoyed the lushness of the setting (which reminded me a lot of Venice) and the way that the fire mage Zaira was not easily won over.  Her unwilling partnership with a 'handler' of a different class and background was organic and well written, it wasn't just a few paragraphs of whining and then besties forever.

There were several mystery subplots which were deftly handled and the denoument was exciting and perfectly paced.  I'm really looking forward to the next installments.

I would not precisely classify this as YA.  It would be appropriate for older YA readers, but also fine for any epic fantasy fans, whatever their age.

Four and a half stars, looking forward to what comes next!

Disclosure: I received an ARC at no cost from the author/publisher.


  1. Is there any way I can contact you to share my book for review?

  2. This sounds like an interesting book! I will look it up, thanks for the review ^^

  3. Hi Nonstop Reader.

    After reading several of your reviews on your blog, I think you might enjoy my newly (self) published science fiction novel. Your review of "The Tethered Mage" displayed the depth of insight that I am seeking for an early reviewer.

    My book, Perfect Imperfection, centers around the adventures of a not-too-smart, over-weight young man with a receding hairline who stumbles onto and into a secret benevolent society of scientists, called Perfect Imperfection or PI. With assistance PI’s accelerated learning and artificial intelligence technologies, Billings trains to become a virtual secret agent that helps humanity in the face of accelerating scientific, ecological and social evolution. The antagonist, Blackbeard, an elite black hat hacker, employs cutting-edge tech to land the biggest score of his career. An epic virtual game of cat and mouse ensues, with everything in the balance.

    I've tried to give hope to the reader despite the path the world is on, there is a way to save us. The point behind the story is to show we can overcome the trivialness of all our imperfections, be they physical, social, intelligence or economic. I will donate all profits of the book to causes that are consistent the book’s key themes.

    By way of introduction, my name is S. E. Gould, and I’m a recovering software entrepreneur and corporate finance executive, looking to spend the best part of my life writing fiction that may help inspire the world to choose a better path.

    If you are interested in reviewing, I am happy to send you a pdf, epub or can gift you a free amazon kindle version or paperback. Lastly, if you want an interview or run a giveaway for your followers, I can help you out there as well. I appreciate your consideration.


    S. E. Gould (segould at gmail dot com)