• The Tethered Mage

  • Swords and Fire, Book 1
  • By: Melissa Caruso
  • Narrated by: Saskia Maarleveld
  • Length: 14 hrs and 16 mins
  • 4.4 out of 5 stars (213 ratings)

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Publisher's Summary

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.

©2017 Melissa Caruso (P)2017 Hachette Audio

Critic Reviews

"A rich world, political intrigue, and action that keeps you turning pages - The Tethered Mage is classic fantasy with a fresh voice." (Jeff Wheeler, author of The Queen's Poisoner)
"Intricate and enticing as silk brocade. Caruso's heroine is a strong, intelligent young woman in a beguiling, beautifully evoked Renaissance world of high politics, courtly intrigue, love and loyalty - and fire warlocks." (Anna Smith Spark, author of The Court of Broken Knives)
"An enchanting voice and an original world you won't want to leave." (RJ Barker, author of Age of Assassins)

What listeners say about The Tethered Mage

Average Customer Ratings
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  • Overall
    3 out of 5 stars
  • Performance
    5 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A hollow, but enjoyable read

This book has a compelling world and magic system that is unfortunately handicapped by empty characterizations and a lack of use of said compelling magic system.

Those born with magic power have neato colored rings in their eyes, and are immediately enslaved. Enslaved, conscripted, take your pick, either you're dealing with slavery from childhood, or child soldiers. Both concepts make the book largely uncomfortable to read because all the characters are in defense of such a system except for the occasional "well maybe it's not the best system". If you've read Robert Jordan, it's basically what happens to the Aes Sedai in the later books.

There's a variety of powers that can occur, but you get maybe a handful of uses of magic thru the entirety of the book. It's a shame, because the idea of it is interesting, and a main draw of the book, but it never delivers.

The male lead is the most useless waste of time and attraction. The only reason the female lead likes him is because he's just there, for no good reason, and is handsome. The only thing he does in the entire book is hold her back in a crisis. Oh, it appears we're in an extremely time sensitive moment, so of course he needs to have a long drawn out conversation about his feelings and how she just caaan't go into danger. I lost count of the number of times he grabbed her arm as she was off to do important work and literally, physically held her back. This drippy dude is supposed to be a military man, but literally questions every order he's given, and it's supposed to be believable that he's in line to be the next leader. It's not.

The female lead has SO so much potential as a character. The daughter of a highly political and dangerous woman, she's supposed to be groomed and prepped to be the heir to a web of secrets and machinations. Instead, the girl waffles around between wildly insecure and clumsy to accomplishing amazingly impossible feats with just some words. You really want to believe that she's becoming skilled, but it's clear the only reason she succeeds is a healthy dose of plot armor.

The best characters are the female lead's slave warlock, and a prince from a neighboring country. The warlock is the only character to actually have skills and a personality. She constantly pushes back on the idea that she should be happy to be enslaved and her acid personality is refreshing. The prince is creepy and borderline evil, but actually has motivations and a temperment.. unlike the paper bag of a male lead.

Usually with characters this weak, the prose would be difficult to read. However the book is well written for the most part and is an easy read.

Not the best book, but compelling enough to be worth your time. At the very least you'll come out with a whole hearted distaste for drippy male leads and a growing appreciation for any romance that has more behind it than "he was there and handsome".

7 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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The Tethered Mage

Great story! The narrator, Saskia Maarleveld, is very gifted. She brings the characters to life with her distinct speaking ability. She's one of my favorite narrators (the other being Julia Whelan). I make a point of choosing stories specifically read by Saskia. You will enjoy listening to this story!


2 people found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Fantastic, great narrator.

This book has everything I love. Political intrigue, betrayals, magic, romance. I thoroughly enjoyed this. A+ for narrator, she was great.

Amalia is a wonderful main character. what she may lack in physical prowess/magic ability, she more than makes up for in smarts, which is refreshing (as I also love badass MC's that'll slit your throat, and have read many of those, so this came up as something a little bit 'different' for me in that regard, and I loved it). Though, one thing I have to say is, there were a few times I wanted Amalia to get angry. maybe once or twice at Zaira.

Which brings me to secondary characters, whom I also enjoyed. I loved Zaira's personality and how she never backed down and said what she meant. I like how she didnt change her views, even at the end, for anyone. And, may I say, bi-representation, whoop! Marcello, La Contessa, Estreya. All very good characters. (forgive any misspellings)

I am definitely going to be picking up the 2nd one and watching for the 3rd one.

1 person found this helpful

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    4 out of 5 stars
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    3 out of 5 stars

A Political Fantasy Debut

First off, let me just say that I did enjoy this book. Now that I've said that, I didn't love this book because it was too politic heavy. Now I usually don't have a problem with politics in fantasy novels (Game of Thrones anyone?), but this was too politically dense. I understood the reasons for the politics, but for every chapter to be about the situation with the Empire was just boring. I wanted to learn more about the magic system, but nope just more politics. I didn't like Amalia as a main character because she mostly kept focusing on what her mother's reaction would be and it wasn't until the end that she started thinking for herself. I absolutely love Zaira because she was just so witty and sarcastic about everything. I loved the fact that there wasn't much romance. Overall, this was an ok book.

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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Loved it!

The story was amazing. the world is so vibrant. the intrigue was papable. danger and betrayl around every corner!

the performance was spot on. i really loved it!

1 person found this helpful

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    5 out of 5 stars
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The stories and world is fun and wonderful.

The world is great and the I love the narrator. That being said there are some plot points I don't like namely guns just felt out of place.

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Great epic fantasy!

This is a great epic fantasy with great storytelling of a new type of magical world, engaging characters, and a plot that keeps you wanting to read more! I also recommend the 2nd and 3rd Sword and Fire books. I just wish the third book had an audiobook as well, you can only buy that paperback or Kindle version for that 3rd book.

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Great book, great storyline and I'm hooked!!

I love this storyline and I'm hooked--can't wait to get to the next book and get that one going! I already want to know what's going to happen to everyone... can't wait to see how this entire storyline pans out!!!!

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Great book of Intrigue and Magic

Slow start, strong finish. Plenty of mystery and intrigue! Looking forward to the next book!

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    5 out of 5 stars

Exactly what I was looking for!

I love reading fantasy, but I'm so tired of reading books that lack gender equality. The author does a great job of creating an old-world styled realm of magic where the characters are as likely to be female as male. While the protagonist is of the upper-class, she becomes more aware of others who don't share her privileges, though it's done in a way that isn't preachy. So refreshing to read an engaging story without having to roll my eyes at glaring insensitivity.

1 person found this helpful