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The Tethered Mage

(Swords and Fire #1)

3.80  ·  Rating details ·  5,232 ratings  ·  851 reviews
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
Paperback, 438 pages
Published October 24th 2017 by Orbit
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Kate This is not YA. The author has stated multiple times that it is not YA. I find it very arrogant and presumptuous of some readers on here to say that t…moreThis is not YA. The author has stated multiple times that it is not YA. I find it very arrogant and presumptuous of some readers on here to say that this is "definitely" YA "regardless of what the author might say" when the author/editor/publisher is the supreme authority on what genre or age range their book is, and they have all stated that this book is NOT YA.(less)
George I see "dh", I always assume the voiced "th" of "then" (as opposed to the voiceless one of "thin").

Given the setting in an obvious analog of Renaissanc…more
I see "dh", I always assume the voiced "th" of "then" (as opposed to the voiceless one of "thin").

Given the setting in an obvious analog of Renaissance Venice (including the Council of Nine, cf. Consejo de i Diexe), I'm supposing that "Ci" represents the Italian sequence, as in "Ciao!" (not quite the same as English "chow").

Which gives me CHEEARTH-ah, with a diphthong in the first syllable and the aforementioned voiced TH, not the unvoiced one of "earth".

A bit of searching shows that "Zaira" is probably three syllables in the Italian name derived from the French "Zaïre" (, tsah-EE-ra (or maybe dzah-), but only two in Spanish, since spells it with no written accent, which makes it SYE-ra or THIGH-rah, depending on what variety of Spanish you like.

But I perversely prefer ZYE-rah. My only defense is that not every name is spelled Italian-style, and some (e.g. Savony, Jerith, Terika) are emphatically not.

Notice that, wisely or not, you asked "How do you pronounce ..." The above is the product of an old man who got his linguistics degree decades ago, with an emphasis in English language. Someone else--e.g., the author--may give you subtly or noticeably different answers.(less)

Community Reviews

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Average rating 3.80  · 
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 ·  5,232 ratings  ·  851 reviews

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Melissa ♥ Dog/Wolf Lover ♥ Martin
I had a great time with this book! There was never a point that is was boring, at least not to me. =)

**Maybe some minor spoilers**

Amalia Cornaro is out one evening getting a rare book when she runs into a fire mage and a Falconer.

Zaira has been in hiding all of these years because she doesn't want to be a slave to the city. She has lived in some horrible situations as a result.

Amalia was trying to save her from some ruffians when she set off her fire and was on the brink of burning the town d
James Tivendale
Sep 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy, freecopy
I received a review copy of The Tethered Mage in exchange for an honest review. I would like to thank Melissa Caruso, Nazia, and Orbit. Less than a week ago I had no idea what to read next. I picked up this book as the cover looked gorgeous and contained quotations from RJ Barker, Anna Smith Spark, and Vic James. I'm super happy that I did and I would describe this book as YA political fantasy with magic - almost like the perfect mix of Gilded Cage and The Lies of Locke Lamora.

The world of Eruvi
Brittney ~ Reverie and Ink
Heyyy friends! Quick update!

I did an interview with Melissa in my live stories on Instagram (@reverieandink)! Check it out here: or for the full thing!

Pst... her writing advice is incredible!



I'm not going to do a full review because I am SO backed up, but here's a quick summary of my thoughts -

Obviously, I loved it, but do note that it's a slower book. But not a bad slow by any means - it was so well writ
Robin (Bridge Four)
Sale Alert: Kindle Daily Deal 20May20 for $2.99

Have you ever bought a book just because you really liked the cover? I fall into this trap every once and awhile and I will say that I sometimes it bites me in the butt but at least this time the inside of the book was about as substantial as the outside.

Political intrigues aren’t really my cup-o-tea. I’m more action/world building oriented in my fantasy but the Tethered Mage did a pretty decent job of holding my attention even so.

Amalia is heir to
Scarlett Readz and Runz....Through Novel Time & Distance
First of all….cover love ♥

Two girls from different backgrounds are bound together in an act to save themselves unbeknown of their consequences.

The empire has seen long lasting peace and is in control of the Falcons. Those are mage-marked warlocks that are separated from their families if they show a special marking after birth and brought to the Mews. Some of their magic abilities can get out of control and therefore they are kept away.

Amalia, the heir to her mother’s throne goes out into the
Aug 17, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: dnf, just-don-t, fiction, vine
Can we stop having pale people 'rescue' dark people by kidnapping them and holding them against their will? That'd be great. ...more
Mogsy (MMOGC)
Mar 27, 2017 rated it really liked it
4.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

Looks like my list of best fantasy debuts of 2017 grows yet again, and I have another new author to keep my eye on. Although there’s no magic formula to determine what makes a good novel (not to mention I can’t always explain why certain books simply work well for me while others do not), there are still a few key elements I generally look for, including believable and compelling characters, realistic atmospheric and wor
Oct 19, 2017 rated it really liked it
Review from Tenacious Reader:

4.5/5 stars

The Tethered Mage was a very enjoyable read with an interesting magic system.

Individuals in this world develop a tell tale mage-mark (a ring on their iris) as they develop their magical ability. There are different types of abilities that may manifest and some display at a younger age than others. But regardless of ability, if a child displays the mage-mark, they must be enlisted as a Falcon. A “jess” is put on thei
Dec 13, 2017 added it
Shelves: library

There are some interesting ideas thrown in here but overall the plot, characters, and language are too simplistic to really draw you in. I’d definitely put it at YA level, it actually reminded me of Caraval in tone, dialogue, and the blushes of teen romance. Not for me.
Unfortunately this is going to be a DNF. I'm about 40% in and gosh, it's so boring. I liked the idea behind the story, but nothing has happened. There's a lot of talk, political machinations - or talk of it - and I just don't care about any of the characters. Thanks to NetGalley for sending me a copy of this to review.

Review also posted at Writings of a Reader

Mar 06, 2018 rated it really liked it
"Figure out what you are good at and make that the game"

* * * *
4 / 5

The Tethered Mage is a Venetian inspired fantasy novel featuring hefty amounts of political skulduggery - one of my favourite things. It might be a little low on the action despite featuring a heavy-hitting Fire Warlock, but when the fights are there, they're good. Featuring two great female leads, The Tethered Mage is a solid start to a new fantasy series.

We follow the viewpoint of Lady Amalia Cornaro, daughter of one of the
Molly Mortensen
The writing was so well done, I would've thought this was a veteran writer not a debut. I highlighted several passages that I just liked the way she phrased things.

More books need to focus on female friendship and Tethered Mage did it well. Their friendship progressed slowly and felt true.

I easily related to Amalia, a book loving girl who'd rather hole up in her room than go to a party. She's heir to one of the city's ruling families but though she's rich her life hasn't been easy. (I only wis
laurel [the suspected bibliophile]
Amalia is the Cornaro heir, and a future rule on the Council of Nine. She never meant to throw a jess onto a fire warlock's arm and become her Falconer, but that's what happened.

Zaira had spent her life hiding her mage mark, trying to cover up the fire that burned within her. Now trapped in the Mews and facing a life of bored captivity at the whims of a rich noblewoman, she contemplates the rest of her life as the Empire's deadliest weapon.

As the two girls grapple with their new relationships, t
Kathleen Minde
This is never easy to admit, but sometimes I just cannot get into a book I am reading. Whether the cause is poor writing, convoluted plotting, annoying characters, or even just an uninteresting topic, I always find it hard to put down a book that someone obviously poured their blood, sweat, and tears into. But then there are books that really rub me the wrong way.

As much as I hate to say this, The Tethered Mage just did not make me want to keep reading. The first chapter was a good dramatic star
BAM Endlessly Booked

Many thanks go to Melissa Caruso, Orbit Books, and Netgalley for the free copy of this book in exchange for my unbiased review.

This is Book one in the Swords and Fire trilogy.

3.5 stars really enjoyed this!

Lady Amalia Cornaro is eighteen years old, precocious, intelligent, beautiful, and the heir to her mother, La Contessa Lissandra. She preferred to run around in the less desired areas of the city searching for grimoires wearing men's breeches instead of her court gowns. But one jou
May 02, 2019 rated it it was amazing
Simply put, I adored this! It was a really strong debut, full of excellent writing and some of my favourite aspects of fantasy - magic, political intrigue, a pet dog (in this case called Scoundrel), strong friendships along with complex relationships, a main character who's a massive nerd. I can't wait to dive into the rest of the series! ...more
julia ☆ [owls reads]
Oct 06, 2017 rated it it was ok
Shelves: arc, hn
1.5 stars.



The Tethered Mage is not what it seems while still literally encompassing everything its title implies. With a good dramatic - and explosive - start, a slow yet steady pace, and good writing, this novel delivers fails to deliver a compelling story. Instead, it has one-dimensional characters, instalove, and underdeveloped world-building.

Melissa Caruso has a lot of potential as a writer. The main concept of this book is a really interesting one, if going by the su
Kathryn at Book Ink Reivews
Sep 14, 2017 rated it it was amazing
A copy of this review can be found at Book Ink Reviews.

Have you ever read a book that you've enjoyed so thoroughly  that you actually slowed down and read the whole Acknowledgements section desperate for anything more from a talented author? I can count on one had how many times I've done that out of the hundreds of books I've read in recent years. This one, people, is for the records, then. Because it now must be counted among those that I read through to the very acknowledged end.

In a brillian
Nov 29, 2017 added it
Shelves: dnf
I received a free copy of The Tethered Mage in exchange for an honest review.

dnf 26%

*Sighs* I wanted so badly to finish this book, but I just....I just couldn't. Maybe it was the slow plot, the cardboard characters, or just the story as a whole, but I could not bring myself to continue reading this. Let's continue.

The Characters

Image result for inhales deeply gif

Ah yes, those people. Um yeah they were pretty annoying...but anyhow. Lets start off with our MC.

Okay, just to be blunt, who even was she??? Did she have a persona
Liz Barnsley
Oct 18, 2017 rated it really liked it
Ooh good this one was. That was my attempt at Yoda again. I’m never any good at it but it’s always worth a try.

So The Tethered Mage is a political thriller. Kind of. I’m glad Theresa May doesn’t have access to falcons.

This book has magical mayhem and behind the scenes shenanigans, a brilliantly imagined world and two girls bound to each other by fate and fury. Mostly on Zaira’s part the fury. Which is unfortunate as she possesses the ability to burn the world to the ground so a bit like the hulk
Jul 09, 2020 rated it really liked it
Shelves: 2020
probably a little closer to a 3.5 star

In the Raverran Empire, magic is scarce and those born with power are strictly controlled; taken as children, and forced into the Falcon army. Zaira has lived her life on the streets, hiding her mage mark to avoid being forced into the army. But her magic is a rare and dangerous one and when she accidentally lets it loose, she becomes a quick target.

Lady Amalia Cornaro is an heiress and a scholar and was never meant to be a Falconer - someone who can control
Jeff Wheeler
Apr 17, 2017 rated it really liked it
I had the opportunity to read an advanced copy of The Tethered Mage by up and coming author Melissa Caruso. It’s an engaging cross between Machiavelli’s The Prince and Jordan’s Wheel of Time series. Here’s the premise – those who possess magic in the Raverran Empire reveal the mage-mark in their eyes as they age and each are taken as children and brought up in the elegant palace Mews in the heart of the empire to be trained in their various magical arts. Their magic is controlled through a set o ...more
The Tattooed Book Geek (Drew).
4.5 stars.

As always this review can also be found on my blog The Tattooed Book Geek: https://thetattooedbookgeek.wordpress...

I received a free copy of this book courtesy of the publisher in exchange for an honest review.

The Tethered Mage is the first book in the Swords and Fire trilogy by Melissa Caruso and oh boy, what a tremendous start to the trilogy it is!

On her way back from the Tallows (the rough and seedy district of Raverra) a chance encounter means that Lady Amalia Cornaro comes across
Nov 07, 2017 rated it really liked it
*4.5 stars*

You can find this and many more reviews at my blog Marianna's Corner!

Are you looking for a diverse fantasy with kickass, strong and intelligent females, an amazing magic system and political scheming that will blow your mind? If your answer is YES, then this book is for you!

We follow Amalia Cornaro, an heir of one of the most powerful families in Raverra, as she accidentally gets herself stuck in the web of politics and scheming, by becoming the Falconer of a balefire mage, Zaira.

girls should kiss and destroy the empire but what the hell do i know
Jul 16, 2018 rated it it was amazing
My only regret about The Tethered Mage is that I didn't read it sooner, so I didn't nominate it for a Subjective Chaos Kind of Award. On the other hand, this has dramatically reduced the amount of time I had to wait to read the sequel!

This is instantly one of my favourite fantasies. Alt-fantasy Venice is always a draw for me, and Caruso has a fine touch for character and politics that makes this a joy. This is a book I wish I'd read when I was a teen inundated with fantasies of chosen one farme
May 26, 2020 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
I enjoyed this! Nothing terribly original, but nevertheless well done.
Jan 16, 2018 rated it liked it
A solid and charming debut which has its fun. A fantasy world based upon 1600s Venetian times, with numerous characters all politically scheming for control. We have mages/warlocks who can control magic or use magic, and people called Falcons/Falconers who can in a sense capture these people and control their use of the abilities. The main character is a Falconer an important person at that, who accidentally saves but also captures Zaira a mage and is now under her control. Its this relationship ...more
Dianna ♡ the belle and the book ♡
hmm...the cover reminds me of Six of Crows, now I'm curious about this book. ...more
Aug 12, 2018 rated it liked it
3.5 stars
I have very mixed feelings about this book. I found Amalia to be really naive and childish and other characters to be very 2d. The concept and world building was good but at times I felt the storyline was a bit pantomime like. In the end I did enjoy it. I'm not racing to get the second book but I will probably read it at some point.
I just think there are some better books that are much better.
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Fantasy Heroines: Any thoughts on The Tethered Mage? 2 5 Jun 08, 2020 11:59AM  
Play Book Tag: The Tethered Mage-4 stars 1 9 Dec 28, 2019 08:26AM  
/r/Fantasy Discus...: January 2019: The Tethered Mage 3 43 Jan 31, 2019 05:34PM  
Play Book Tag: The Tethered Mage by Melissa Caruso, 5 stars 9 20 Dec 05, 2018 02:59PM  

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Melissa Caruso is the author of THE TETHERED MAGE, first in the Swords and Fire trilogy, out now from Orbit books.

Other books in the series

Swords and Fire (3 books)
  • The Defiant Heir (Swords and Fire, #2)
  • The Unbound Empire (Swords and Fire #3)

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“My throat tightened. 'I'm not good at these games. Not like you are, Mamma.'

'Then don't play. Figure out what you are good at, and make that the game.”
“After a moment, a bemused laugh burst its way through her lips. “Only idiots and dogs are ever happy. But I’m enjoying myself.” 0 likes
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