This is the debut novel of author Melissa Caruso and, while considered "adult" fantasy, I feel it could easily fall under YA as well.
Right out of the gates I was extremely impressed with this book. The Tethered Mage starts off quick with a premise that's extremely unique and original. With it, Melissa poses the question, "What if the government rounded people up with magical abilities at a young in order to control and potentially abuse their power?". Great question. Totally sounds like something that would happen if magic actually existed.
In the case of The Tethered Mage , they're identified and tethered to a caretaker or "Falconer" who can ensure the power is contained and only unleashed when necessary. Hence the title, "The Tethered Mage".
Given the premise of the government controlling mages and others with unique abilities, a very large section of the book is dedicated to politics, threats of war, and relationships between different powers. While I found these areas a bit slow, I never once lost interest. As it's a very unique premise and universe, there's a lot of world-building to be done. I think we'll find less of this, and more action/adventure, as the series progresses and all of the world building is out of the way.
Something I really enjoyed about this book, was the character diversity. Our two leads are female powerhouses with very different personalities, there are multiple PoC in a variety of roles throughout the story, we come across a male same-sex couple that's handled quite well, and one of the two female leads is bisexual,.
While I enjoyed the diversity, the lack of using correct terms annoyed me. The words "gay" and "bisexual" do not appear in the book, as is the case with many fantasy books unfortunately. I don't know if it's because in these worlds there are just no words for various sexualities, but I fail to see why magic is more believable than characters knowing or using these specific terms. Representation is important, and I know people appreciate it regardless, but seeing those words in print can do a lot for people struggling with their identity and helping to validate them.
The last third of the book was phenomenal, right back to the pace and action we started the book with. The characters really grow over the course of the story and it made me super excited to see what she has in store for us in book 2.
All in all, I did think it was a great read and I will most definitely be reading the rest of the series. Melissa has developed an incredibly fun, unique and original world, and I can't wait to see what she does with it.
Available October 24th 2017