Last Updated on April 8, 2020 Melissa Caruso is a relatively new fantasy author who has started her writing career with the Swords and Fire high-fantasy trilogy. The writer’s first novel, The Tethered Mage, debuted in 2017.
Here is the ongoing list of the Melissa Caruso books in order for her series and any upcoming books she publishes.
New Melissa Caruso Books
Swords and Fire Trilogy
- The Tethered Mage (Swords and Fire #1), 2017
- The Defiant Heir (Swords and Fire #2), 2018
- The Unbound Empire (Swords and Fire #3), 2019
Gate of Secrets Series
- The Obsidian Tower, 2020
Melissa Caruso Biography
Melissa Caruso graduated with honors in Creative Writing from Brown University and holds an MFA in Fiction from the University of Massachusetts Amherst. She loves to write fantasy novels and loves to be outdoors. The author currently lives in Massachusetts with her husband, two daughters and the family pets.
Melissa has been writing her whole life. As a child, she often had insomnia, which is when she would start telling herself stories to fall asleep. The stories, of course, would only keep her more awake but would help her later in life to become an established writer.
In an interview, the author mentioned that she got the idea for her first story in her Swords and Fire trilogy during a car drive with her husband when the topic of mages came up in a conversation. She then fleshed out her idea, put it on paper, and the rest is history. The book was shortlisted for a Gemmell Morningstar Award for best debut fantasy novel of 2017.
While the story is set in an imaginary world of Eruvia in the city of Raverra, it is loosely based on early-modern 17the Century Venice, a place Melissa Caruso visited more than once in her life. She first went with her parents to Italy when she was 12-years old, and then the second time as an adult, when she flew to Italy with her husband.
During her second visit, she got lost and wandered around in the local part of the city for several hours. This was not a touristic location, so the author knew that she was looking at history. Her book had a strong inspiration from this particular trip to Venice in her main setting.
The main characters in The Tethered Mage are Amalia, her mother the Contessa, and Zaira, a fire mage who is also a pickpocket. Amalia and Zaira’s relationship is far from easy and they are linked through magic.
They are bound forever by a bracelet which Amalia had to put on Zaira’s wrist to stop her magic. Instead, things got interesting, as Amalia becomes Zaira’s falconer, which means that Amalia can control (and even stop) Zaira’s magical powers. The magic is quite scarce, powerful and strictly controlled, and Zaira is a danger to the whole system. As fantasy mages go, Zaira is a pretty cool person.
The story is great, although I didn’t care all that much about the detailed political aspects of the book. My eyes were kind of gliding over those pages, but it has nothing to do with the author or the book, I just generally don’t care much for empire politics and political intrigue when they dominate the page.
In the next Melissa Caruso book, The Defiant Heir (which would be Amalia, since she is the series’ heir), Amalia and Zaira feature prominently again, this time trying to hinder the Witch Lords of Vaskandar from going to war with the Serene Empire.
And then, we’re off to the book #3 in the trilogy, with the title The Unbound Empire, which is published in April 2019. Now, Lady Amalia Cornaro and Zaira try to change the Raverran Empire mages’ fates, but this attracts the wrath of the powerful who won’t stop from doing anything just to keep the magic confined to their own control.
All three books are published by Orbit Books. The wonderful fantasy mage art was done by Crystal Ben & Arcangel, and the cover design by Lisa Marie Pompilio, who also designed the cover for Gerald Seymour’s A Deniable Death and the cover for the book U2 The Definite Biography.
The new Gate of Secrets (Aka Rooks and Ruin) series begins with The Obsidian Tower, published early 2020.
Praise for Melissa Caruso
Charming, intelligent, fast-moving, beautifully atmospheric (Genevieve Cogman)
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)
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)
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.” (RJ Barker)
A rich world, political intrigue, and action that keeps you turning pages–The Tethered Mage is classic fantasy with a fresh voice. (Jeff Wheeler)