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Melissa Caruso Books In Order

Publication Order of Swords and Fire Books

The Tethered Mage (2017) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle
The Defiant Heir (2018) Hardcover  Paperback  Kindle

Melissa Caruso is American author of fantasy novels known for her adult fantasy series, Swords & Fire Trilogy. Melissa became a published author in 2017 when The Tethered Mage the first book in Swords and Fire trilogy.

The Tethered Mage

Set in Raverra, a city resembling Venice, The Tethered Mage is the debut novel in Swords and Fire trilogy introduces the readers to a pair of women originating from very distinct backgrounds. As the only child of Lissandra Cornaro who is aka La Contessa due to the prominent position she holds in the ruling council. Lady Amalia is the heir to prominent and powerful throne families in the Riverra Empire. However unlike her mother, Amalia does not have much interest in politics, and therefore she involves herself in more bookish pursuits, and secretly acquiring and tracking down rare texts during her spare time.

However, on a fateful day when returning from her book-hunting excursions, Amalia stumbles upon a young woman being assaulted by a group of criminals which forces her to step in and offer the lady a hand. Of course, that is before Amalia discovers that the other woman is a fire warlock, who is more than able of taking care of herself and also burning the entire city to the ground.

To save the city of Raverra, Amalia makes a quick decision to assist Lieutenant Marcello of the Falconers, a magical enforcer present in the scene. However, what she does not know is that by helping the cop, she has broken the law hindering any member of the ruling house to binding with a mage and where she likes it or not, she is now a Falconer and the political consequences of this are profound.

The fire warlock named Zaira is also not happy with this arrangement as well. She has spent most of her life trying with all her might to avoid the Falconers, only to find herself tether to, of all the people, the heir of La Contessa. For their own safety and also for the safety of the city, mages are often regarded as children and taken care of the Falconers in a secure but comfortable place known as the Mews. It is not a bad life after all but for Zaira who knows the authentic taste of freedom, having magical powers being controlled and monitored all times does not sound right with her. Above all she hates being treated like a puppet- unfortunately, that is what those in power have in store for her- to use her Amalia’s connection with her for their own advantage.

From the start to the last page, The Tethered Mage is a wonderful novel. The characterization in the story is beautifully done, and the relationships make up for the greater part of the novel and at the heart of this weave of attachments and bonds, the main character, Amalia acts the uniting factor binding the characters together. It is also through the eyes of Amalia that we get to explore the city of Riverra and learn all the dangers and the complexities of the politics of this mighty empire. While La Contessa is not someone you would want to cross path with, that extreme harshness actually belies a strong love for her beloved daughter. On some occasions, she even allows her daughter to explore her own interests.

Some relationships explored in The Tethered Mage include Amalia and La Contessa, her mother. Initially, Amalia’s mother disapproves of her daughter’s hobbies and the regular secret trips out of the city create a picture of a strict and also uncompromising woman.

Then there is the relationship between Zaira and Amalia, the Falconer and her mage. The journey of these two to eventually becoming true friends trusting each other is compelling and plausible as it can be. The effort and the detail the author puts into these relationships is obvious.

The two main characters are beautifully crafted. Zara is a warlock and one of the most destructive and dangerous kinds of mages. She is unique in that her mage mark was more subdued and was undetected until adulthood. She finds it hard integrating her as Falcon where she has to submit to specific rules, and expectations are pretty too much for a woman who has lived her own life accountable to no one.

Then there is Amalia, the heir to the empire who has lived a life of luxury. The two ladies are different in so many different ways each with different backgrounds. Amalia has been raised to be a politician and has lived a noble life. Zaira is a loner, has lived on the streets and speaks her mind with fewer regards about her etiquette or appearances. However, one thing that these two characters have in common is the strength and the determination of character.

The world of Eruvia is richly detailed. You have Ardence and Raverra in the Empire as the locations Melissa Caruso uses in the story, but there is also a mention of Vaskndar a possible hint for exploration in the future books of the series. This area has an opposite view and attitude to magic compared to that of Serene Empire. They do not bond their magic using jesses o tether their mages, as their mage marked individuals are considered influential and they as Witch Lords. Melissa Caruso makes use of The Tethered Mage the same way a Falconer uses Jess. However, instead, she bonds the readers to the story just the way Falcon’s bonds with magic.

The Defiant Heir

Far across the border, Vaskandar’s Witch Lords are preparing for battle. However before the war can begin, they all must call a rare gathering of the seventeen lords so that they can decide the course of action. However, Amalia knows that his gathering might be her only chance to choke the growing flames of war, and is ready to make any sacrifice only if it saves Raverra from annihilation. She and Zaira must infiltrate behind the enemy lines using the skills and talents they have and sway their enemies from war.

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