The Tethered Mage

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By Melissa Caruso

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A mage with coveted magic and the scion of a powerful family are magically bound together in service to the Empire in the first book of a spellbinding fantasy trilogy from David Gemmell Award-nominated author Melissa Caruso. 

Magic is scarce in the Raverran Empire, and those born with such powers are strictly controlled — taken as children and conscripted into the Falcon army, to be used as weapons in times of war.

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.

Praise for Swords and Fire:

"Charming, intelligent, fast-moving, beautifully atmospheric, with a heroine and other characters whom I really liked as people. I couldn't put it down."―Genevieve Cogman, author of The Invisible Library

"Breathtaking… Worth every moment and every page, and should make anyone paying attention excited about what Caruso will write next."―BookPage

"A riveting read, with delicious intrigue, captivating characters, and a brilliant magic system. I loved it from start to finish!"―Sarah Beth Durst, author of The Queen of Blood

Swords and Fire
The Tethered Mage
The Defiant Heir
The Unbound Empire


For more from Melissa Caruso, check out:

Rooks and Ruin
The Obsidian Tower

Excerpt

Chapter One

Here, my lady? Are you sure?”

As the narrow prow of my boat nudged the stone steps at the canal’s edge, I wished I’d walked, or at least hired a craft rather than using my own. The oarsman was bound to report to La Contessa that her daughter had disembarked at a grimy little quay in a dubious corner of the Tallows, the poorest district of the city of Raverra.

By the time my mother heard anything, however, I’d already have the book.

“Yes, thank you. Right here.”

The oarsman made no comment as he steadied his craft, but his eyebrows conveyed deep skepticism.

I’d worn a country gentleman’s coat and breeches, to avoid standing out from my seedy surroundings. I was glad not to risk skirts trailing in the murky water as I clambered out of the boat. Trash bobbed in the canal, and the tang in the air was not exclusively salt.

“Shall I wait for you here, my lady?”

“No, that’s all right.” The less my mother knew of my errand, the better.

She had not precisely forbidden me to visit the pawnbroker who claimed to have a copy of Muscati’s Principles of Artifice, but she’d made her opinion of such excursions clear. And no one casually disobeyed La Contessa Lissandra Cornaro. Her word resonated with power in every walled garden and forgotten plaza in Raverra.

Still, there was nothing casual about a Muscati. Only twelve known copies of his books existed. If this was real, it would be the thirteenth.

As I strolled alongside the canal, my mother’s warnings seemed ridiculous. Sun-warmed facades flanked the green water, and workers unloaded produce from the mainland off boats moored at the canal’s edge. A bright, peaceful afternoon like this surely could hold no dangers.

But when my route veered away from the canal, plunging into a shadowy tunnel that burrowed straight through a building, I hesitated. It was far easier to imagine assassins or kidnappers lurking beyond that dim archway. It wouldn’t be the first time I’d faced either in my eighteen years as my mother’s heir.

The book, I reminded myself. Think of the book.

I passed through the throat of the tunnel, emerging into a street too narrow to ever see direct sunlight. Broken shutters and scarred brickwork closed around me. The few people I passed gave me startled, assessing glances.

I found the pawnbroker’s shop with relief, and hurried into a dim wilderness of dusty treasures. Jewelry and blown glass glittered on the shelves; furniture cluttered the floor, and paintings leaned against the walls. The proprietor bent over a conch shell wrapped with copper wire, a frown further creasing his already lined face. A few wisps of white over his ears were the last legacy of his hair.

I approached, glancing at the shell. “It’s broken.”

He scowled. “Is it? I should have known. He asked too little for a working one.”

“Half the beads are missing.” I pointed to a few orbs of colored glass still threaded on the wire. “You’d need an artificer to fix it if you wanted it to play music again.”

The pawnbroker looked up at me, and his eyes widened. “Lady Amalia Cornaro.” He bowed as best he could in the cramped shop.

I glanced around, but we were alone. “Please, no need for formality.”

“Forgive me. I didn’t recognize you in, ah, such attire.” He peered dubiously at my breeches. “Though I suppose that’s the fashion for young ladies these days.”

Breeches weren’t remotely in fashion for young ladies, but I didn’t bother correcting him. I was just grateful they were acceptable enough in my generation that I didn’t have to worry about causing a scandal or being mistaken for a courtesan.

“Do you have the book?” I reminded him. “Muscati’s Principles of Artifice, your note said.”

“Of course. I’d heard you were looking for it.” A certain gleam entered his eye with which I was all too familiar: Cornaro gold reflected back at me. “Wait a moment, and I’ll get it.”

He shuffled through a doorway to the rear of the shop.

I examined the shell. I knew enough from my studies of artifice to trace the patterns of wire and understand the spell that had captured the sound of a musical performance inside the shell’s rune-carved whorls. I could have fixed a broken wire, perhaps, but without the inborn talent of an artificer to infuse new beads with magical energy, the shell would stay silent.

The pawnbroker returned with a large leather-bound book. He laid it on the table beside the conch shell. “There you are, my lady.”

I flipped through the pages until I came to a diagram. Muscati’s combination of finicky precision in the wirework schematics and thick, blunt strokes for the runes was unmistakable. I let out a trembling breath. This was the real thing.

The pawnbroker’s long, delicate fingers covered the page. “Is all in order, then?”

“Yes, quite. Thank you.” I laid a gold ducat on the table. It vanished so quickly I almost doubted I’d put it there.

“Always a pleasure,” he murmured.

I tucked the book into my satchel and hurried out of the musty shop, almost skipping with excitement. I couldn’t wait to get home, retreat to my bedroom with a glass of wine, and dive into Muscati’s timeworn pages. My friend Domenic from the University of Ardence said that to read Muscati was to open a window on a new view of the universe as a mathematical equation to be solved.

Of course, he’d only read excerpts. The university library didn’t have an actual Muscati. I’d have to get Domenic here to visit so I could show him. Maybe I’d give the book to the university when I was done with it.

It was hard to make myself focus on picking turns in the mazelike streets rather than dreaming about runic alphabets, geometric diagrams, and coiling wirework. At least I was headed in the right general direction. One more bridge to cross, and then I’d be in polite, patrician territory, safe and sound; and no lecture of my mother’s could change the fact that I’d completed my errand without incident.

But a tense group of figures stood in the tiny plaza before the bridge, frozen in a standoff, every line of their bodies promising each other violence.

Like so many things in Raverra, this had become complicated.

Three broad-shouldered men formed a menacing arc around a scrawny young woman with sprawling dark curls. The girl stood rigidly defiant, like a stick thrust in the mud. I slowed to a halt, clutching my satchel tight against my side, Muscati’s edge digging into my ribs.

“One last chance.” A burly man in shirtsleeves advanced on the girl, fists like cannonballs ready at his sides. “Come nice and quiet to your master, or we’ll break your legs and drag you to him in a sack.”

“I’m my own master,” the girl retorted, her voice blunt as a boat hook. “And you can tell Orthys to take his indenture contract and stuff it up his bunghole.”

They hadn’t noticed me yet. I could work my way around to the next bridge, and get my book safely home. I took a step back, glancing around for someone to put a stop to this: an officer of the watch, a soldier, anyone but me.

There was no one. The street lay deserted. Everyone else in the Tallows knew enough to make themselves scarce.

“Have it your way,” the man growled. The ruffians closed in on their prey.

This was exactly the sort of situation in which a young lady of the august and noble house of Cornaro should not involve herself, and in which a person of any moral fortitude must.

Maybe I could startle them, like stray dogs. “You there! Stop!”

They turned to face me, their stares cold and flat. The air went dry in my throat.

“This is none of your business,” one in a scuffed leather doublet warned. A scar pulled at the corner of his mouth. I doubted it came from a cooking accident.

I had no protection besides the dagger in my belt. The name Cornaro might hold weight with these scoundrels, but they’d never believe I bore it. Not dressed like this.

My name meant nothing. The idea sent a wild thrill into my lungs, as if the air were alive.

The girl didn’t wait to see what I would do. She tried to bolt between two of the men. A tree branch of an arm caught her at the waist, scooping her up as if she were a child. Her feet swung in the air.

My satchel pulled at my shoulder, but I couldn’t run off and leave her now, Muscati or no Muscati. Drawing my dagger seemed a poor idea. The men were all armed, one with a flintlock pistol.

“Help!” I called.

The brutes seemed unimpressed. They kept their attention on the struggling girl as they wrenched her arms behind her.

“That’s it!” Rage swelled her voice. “This is your last warning!”

Last warning? What an odd thing to say. Unless …

Ice slid into my bone marrow.

The men laughed, but she glowered furiously at them. She wasn’t afraid. I could think of only one reason she wouldn’t be.

I flattened myself against a wall just before everything caught fire.

Her eyes kindled first, a hungry blue spark flaring in her pupils. Then flames ran down her arms in delicate lines, leaping into the pale, lovely petals of a deadly flower.

The men lurched back from her, swearing, but it was too late. Smoke already rose from their clothing. Before they finished sucking in their first terrified breaths, blue flames sprang up in sudden, bold glory over every inch of them, burying every scar and blemish in light. For one moment, they were beautiful.

Then they let out the screams they had gathered. I cringed, covering my own mouth. The pain in them was inhuman. The terrible, oily reek of burning human meat hit me, and I gagged.

The men staggered for the canal, writhing in the embrace of the flames. I threw up my arm to ward my face from the heat, blocking the sight. Heavy splashes swallowed their screams.

In the sudden silence, I lowered my arm.

Fire leaped up past the girl’s shoulders now. A pure, cold anger graced her features. It wasn’t the look of a woman who was done.

Oh, Hells.

She raised her arms exultantly, and flames sprang up from the canal itself, bitter and wicked. They spread across the water as if on a layer of oil, licking at the belly of the bridge. On the far side of the canal, bystanders drawn by the commotion cried out in alarm.

“Enough!” My voice tore out of my throat higher than usual. “You’ve won! For mercy’s sake, put it out!”

But the girl’s eyes were fire, and flames ran down her hair. If she understood me, she made no sign of it. The blue fire gnawed at the stones around her feet. Hunger unsatisfied, it expanded as if the flagstones were grass.

I recognized it at last: balefire. I’d read of it in Orsenne’s Fall of Celantis.

Grace of Mercy preserve us all. That stuff would burn anything—water, metal, stone. It could light up the city like a dry corncrib. I hugged my book to my chest.

“You have to stop this!” I pleaded.

“She can’t,” a strained voice said. “She’s lost control.”

I turned to find a tall, lean young man at my shoulder, staring at the burning girl with understandable apprehension. His wavy black hair brushed the collar of the uniform I wanted to see most in the world at the moment: the scarlet-and-gold doublet of the Falconers. The very company that existed to control magic so things like this wouldn’t happen.

“Thank the Graces you’re here! Can you stop her?”

“No.” He drew in a deep, unsteady breath. “But you can, if you have the courage.”

“What?” It was more madness, piled on top of the horror of the balefire. “But I’m not a Falconer!”

“That’s why you can do it.” Something delicate gleamed in his offering hand. “Do you think you can slip this onto her wrist?”

It was a complex weave of gold wire and scarlet beads, designed to tighten with a tug. I recognized the pattern from a woodcut in one of my books: a Falconer’s jess. Named after the tethers used in falconry, it could place a seal on magic.

“She’s on fire,” I objected.

“I know. I won’t deny it’s dangerous.” His intent green eyes clouded. “I can’t do it myself; I’m already linked to another. I wouldn’t ask if it weren’t an emergency. The more lives the balefire consumes, the more it spreads. It could swallow all of Raverra.”

I hesitated. The jess sagged in his hand. “Never mind. I shouldn’t have—”

“I’ll do it.” I snatched the bracelet from him before I could think twice.

“Thank you.” He flashed me an oddly wistful smile. “I’ll distract her while you get close. Wits and courage. You can do it.”

The Falconer sprinted toward the spreading flames, leaving the jess dangling from my hand like an unanswered question.

He circled to the canal’s edge, calling to get the girl’s attention. “You! Warlock!”

She turned toward him. Flame trailed behind her like a queen’s mantua. The spreading edges crawled up the brick walls of the nearest house in blazing tendrils.

The Falconer’s voice rang out above the clamor of the growing crowd across the canal. “In the name of His Serenity the Doge, I claim you for the Falcons of Raverra!”

That certainly got her attention. The flames bent in his direction as if in a strong wind.

“I don’t belong to you, either!” Her voice was wild as a hissing bonfire. “You can’t claim me. I’ll see you burn first!”

Now she was going to kill him, too. Unless I stopped her.

My heart fluttering like an anxious dowager’s handkerchief, I struggled to calm down and think. Maybe she wouldn’t attack if I didn’t rush at her. I tucked my precious satchel under my coat and hustled toward the bridge as if I hoped to scurry past her and escape. It wasn’t hard to pretend. Some in the crowd on the far side beckoned me to safety.

My legs trembled with the urge to heed them and dash across. I couldn’t bear the thought of Muscati’s pages withering to ashes.

I tightened my grip on the jess.

The Falconer extended his hand toward the girl to keep her attention. “By law, you belonged to Raverra the moment you were born with the mage mark. I don’t know how you managed to hide for so long, but it’s over now. Come with me.”

The balefire roared at him in a blue-white wave.

“Plague take you!” The girl raised her fist in defiance. “If Raverra wants my fire, she can have it. Let the city burn!”

I lunged across the remaining distance between us, leaping over snaking lines of flame. Eyes squeezed half shut against the heat, I flung out an arm and looped the jess over her upraised fist.

The effect was immediate. The flames flickered out as if a cold blast of wind had snuffed them. The Falconer still recoiled, his arms upraised to protect his face, his fine uniform doublet smoking.

The girl swayed, the fire flickering out in her eyes. The golden jess settled around her bone-thin wrist.

She collapsed to the flagstones.

Pain seared my hand. I hissed through my teeth as I snatched it to my chest. That brief moment of contact had burned my skin and scorched my boots and coat. My satchel, thank the Graces, seemed fine.

Across the bridge, the gathering of onlookers cheered, then began to break up. The show was over, and nobody wanted to go near a fire warlock, even an unconscious one.

I couldn’t blame them. No sign remained of ruffians in the canal, though the burned smell lingered horribly in the air. Charred black scars streaked the sides of the buildings flanking me.

The Falconer approached, grinning with relief. “Well done! I’m impressed. Are you all right?”

It hit me in a giddy rush that it was over. I had saved—if not all of Raverra, at least a block or two of it—by myself, with my own hands. Not with my mother’s name, or with my mother’s wealth, but on my own.

Too dangerous to go to a pawnbroker’s shop? Ha! I’d taken out a fire warlock. I smiled at him, tucking my burned hand into my sleeve. “I’m fine. I’m glad I could help.”

“Lieutenant Marcello Verdi, at your service.” He bowed. “What is your name, brave young lady?”

“Amalia Cornaro.”

“Well, welcome to the doge’s Falconers, Miss …” He stopped. The smile fell off his face, and the color drained from his bronze skin. “Cornaro.” He swallowed. “Not … you aren’t related to La Contessa Lissandra Cornaro, surely?”

My elation curdled in my stomach. “She’s my mother.”

“Hells,” the lieutenant whispered. “What have I done?”




Chapter Two

My mother wasn’t even here, and still she dominated the conversation. I bent over the unconscious girl, both out of concern and to hide my frustration.

“Will she be all right?” I asked.

“She’s fine, my lady. Warlocks often collapse from exhaustion after loosing their power.” The new stiffness in Verdi’s voice smarted like salt on my burns. I shouldn’t have told him my name.

He knelt, reaching for the girl’s wrist. At first I thought he meant to check her pulse, but his fingers instead traced the delicate weave of the bracelet.

The jess was the most complex wirework artifice I’d ever seen. The intricate braid of the wire and position of the blood-red beads formed a language dictating the terms of the spell. It was too elaborate for me to follow.

Some of the golden wires had blurred and melted at the knot that bound the strands together. That shouldn’t have been possible; jesses were supposed to be nearly impervious to physical harm. But balefire was a powerful magical force.

“It’s fused,” Verdi breathed. “I don’t think it will come off.”

I lifted my eyes and found his green ones. The worry in them was frank and unguarded, in a way I never saw in the drawing-room circles of the Raverran elite.

“Why would you want it to come off?” I asked.

“Because, my lady, you are the one who put it on her.”

“Please, call me Amalia.”

“I’m sorry, Lady Amalia. I should never have involved you in this.” He shook his head. “We’re trained to recruit civilian volunteers to put on the jesses in unexpected emergencies like this, but I’ve never heard of anyone accidentally enlisting a noble before.”

“You didn’t involve me. I chose to help. I did it myself.” Crouching in the street with my face inches from his suddenly felt awkward. I straightened, cradling my burned hand. The growing pain of it intruded into everything, like an unwelcome guest.

“And you were magnificent. I’m the one who bungled things.” Verdi rose, too, rubbing his head. “I’m not sure what happens now. I need to get our new Falcon to the Mews before she wakes up. The law says she can’t be out in the city without her Falconer, but …” He let out a nervous laugh. “You are her Falconer.”

“But I can’t be.” Now I understood his alarm. “None of the great families of the Assembly can be Falconers. My mother—”

“I know; believe me, my lady.” Verdi grimaced. “I’m not sure who will have my head first: La Contessa, my commanding officer, or the doge himself. But you put the jess on her, so you’re the only one who can bind and release her power. With the jess damaged, nothing can change that now.”

A bracelet couldn’t have made such a huge decision for me. Not even the doge dictated the fate of a Cornaro. The only one who could do that was … I swallowed. “Someone’s going to have to tell my mother.”

Verdi saluted me.

“Oh, no,” I protested. “I can’t.”

“Better she hear it from you than from the doge.” His brows drew together. “Normally I’d take you both straight to the Mews with me, but I don’t dare interfere with La Contessa.”

“I’m afraid we already have.” Though I wasn’t displeased to have acted outside the scope of her approval. I was more concerned about breaking Falconer regulations and Raverran law.

“I’m sorry, my lady.” Verdi bowed. “This is all my fault. And I don’t want to make it worse by leaving you now. But if I don’t get our new recruit to the Mews before she wakes up, even the Grace of Luck won’t be able to save this mess.”

He hesitated over the unconscious Falcon a moment, then scooped her up, settling her on his back with a wince at his singed shoulders. One skinny arm hung limply in the air.

Disquiet filled me at the sight. I’d meant to help her, not capture her. But the Falcons were kept in luxury. It must be an improvement over whatever lot in life had left her dressed in rags and running from scoundrels.

“Are you certain she’ll be all right?”

“We’ll take good care of her,” Verdi said. “She’s not a prisoner.”

The jess gleamed on her wrist, and I wasn’t so sure.

“My apologies, my lady.” Verdi attempted another bow, then curtailed it as the girl started to slide off his back. “I must go. I’ll report to your palace once I get her settled, to speak further about this. Or at least, someone will, and I hope it’s me. Because if not, that probably means I’m in a great deal of trouble.”

A great deal of trouble. The words lingered like the scent of smoke on my coat as I climbed the marble stairs to my mother’s study. My hand throbbed on the cool banister. Dark oil portraits of great Cornaros of the past watched me from the walls, with my mother’s shrewd eyes.

I tucked my book behind a silver urn in the hallway, to give myself a better chance of glossing over exactly where I’d been. I considered going to my room to change, but La Contessa placed more value on timely information than on appropriate dress. I had no excuse to put this conversation off.

Still, I stood for a few minutes outside her study door. I stared at the gilt-carved doorframe, picking out the same familiar shapes I’d found as a child, while I practiced my opening line under my breath.

Finally, I knocked.

“Enter,” she commanded from within.

I opened the door. Warm sunlight caught on the baroque moldings and bright frescoes of my mother’s study. A huge map of the Serene Empire of Raverra hung on one wall, and a bookcase ran up the full fifteen feet to the ceiling on another.

My mother sat at her writing desk, her back to me, quill moving as she worked. I loved that writing desk. It was full of secret drawers and cubbies, and my mother had asked me to help her test it when I was a child, offering me sweets for each hidden compartment I could find. Her auburn hair cascaded artfully over rich emerald-velvet shoulders. When the doge himself might call for her at any time, or the Council of Nine convene for an emergency meeting, La Contessa believed in always looking her best.

I cleared my throat. “I saved Raverra from burning today.”

“That would explain why you smell like an unswept chimney.” She kept writing, without a glance in my direction.

“Yes.” I shuffled my soot-stained boots. “There was an out-of-control fire warlock, and I … I helped. A Falconer gave me a jess, and I got it on her.”

The scratching of the quill stopped. My mother turned, slowly. She wore her business face, beautiful and unreadable, with penetrating eyes.

“You put a jess on a rogue warlock.” Her voice was flat as a slab of marble.

“Yes.” My mouth stretched, from sheer nerves. I shouldn’t smile; I twisted it to a grimace instead. “It, ah, seems it won’t come off.”

The moment lengthened. My mother didn’t move. Finally, the pen in her hand twitched, the feather quivering, as if she stuck a decisive period at the end of her thoughts.

“I knew you’d gone shopping in the Tallows,” she said. “I didn’t realize you brought me back a Falcon.”

She already knew where I’d been. Of course.

I twisted my good hand in the strap of my satchel, but said nothing. My mother once told me that when you didn’t know where you stood, you should keep your mouth shut and listen.

“Amalia, do you know why I let you run around Raverra without an escort?”

I hesitated, then shook my head.

“Why I let you study magical science in Ardence, or allow you to go out dressed like a country squire’s seventh daughter, or pretend I don’t notice when you visit pawnshops in unsavory areas?”

“No, Mamma.”

Genre:

  • "Charming, intelligent, fast-moving, beautifully atmospheric, with a heroine and other characters whom I really liked as people. I couldn't put it down (I overstayed my lunch break in order to finish it.) I would love to read more set in this world."—Genevieve Cogman, author of The Invisible Library
  • "The Tethered Mage is the best kind of fantasy: intricate world-building, the most intriguing of court intrigues, and a twisty plot. But while readers might pick it up for those elements, they'll stay for the engaging characters and the unlikely friendships at the story's heart."—Rosalyn Eves, author of Blood Rose Rebellion
  • "The Tethered Mage is a riveting read, with delicious intrigue, captivating characters, and a brilliant magic system. I loved it from start to finish!"—Sarah Beth Durst, author of The Queen of Blood
  • "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
  • "Engaging and entertaining with intrigue, a good pace, and strong characters. Zaira and Amalia are bright, bold heroes in a smartly constructed world."—James Islington, author of The Shadow of What Was Lost
  • "One of the best first novels in a brand new high fantasy series that I've read in ages.... If you're hungry for a new fantasy series with awesome, nuanced characters, powerful worldbuilding, and solid writing - look no further. The Tethered Mage is the book you need right now. Absolutely recommended."—Book Smugglers
  • "An enchanting voice and an original world you won't want to leave."—p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px Calibri; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000}span.s1 {font-kerning: none}RJ Barker, author of Age of Assassins
  • "Breathtaking... Worth every moment and every page, and should make anyone paying attention
excited about what Caruso will write next."—BookPage
  • "A rich world, political intrigue, and action that keeps you turning pages--The Tethered Mage is classic fantasy with a fresh voice."—p.p1 {margin: 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px 0.0px; font: 14.0px Calibri; -webkit-text-stroke: #000000}span.s1 {font-kerning: none}Jeff Wheeler, author of The Queen's Poisoner
  • "The plotting is good, the characters interesting.... Something really special."—RT Book Reviews
  • "It's a pleasure to journey with shy and slightly awkward Amalia as she puts her scholarship in magic and puzzle-solving skills to good use.... Charming."—Kirkus
  • "Caruso skillfully maintains her plot."—Publishers Weekly
  • "A gorgeous, fresh fantasy debut filled with political intrigue and ethical quandary.... Highly recommend."—Girls in Capes
  • On Sale
    Oct 24, 2017
    Page Count
    480 pages
    Publisher
    Orbit
    ISBN-13
    9780316466875

    Melissa Caruso

    About the Author

    Melissa Caruso was born on the summer solstice and went to school in an old mansion with a secret door, but despite this auspicious beginning has yet to develop any known superpowers. Melissa has spent her whole life creating imaginary worlds, and in addition to writing is also an avid LARPer and tabletop gamer.  She graduated with honors in Creative Writing from Brown University and has an MFA in Fiction from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. Melissa's first novel, The Tethered Mage, was shortlisted for a Gemmell Morningstar award for best fantasy debut.

    Learn more about this author