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
With great power come great adventures and responsibilities in this politically aware fantasy lightly infused with Renaissance Italian flavors. Young aristocrat Amalia Cornaro heir to her mother's powerful position on Raverra's ruling Council of Nine and a friend to many in the restless city of Ardence inadvertently becomes a mage handler (Falconer) while trying to rescue rogue fire warlock Zaira from her own out-of-control balefire spell. Consequently, they are both automatically conscripted into the Raverran Empire's military, and, magically linked, must learn to work together under the direction of the doge himself. Amalia is romantically tempted by Lt. Marcello Verdi, the earnest if socially lower Falconer second-in-command. Debut novelist Caruso puts her characters into well-worn situations (mismatched teammates, unwilling heirs, unacceptable loves) but permits the social constraints on individuals, such as automatic conscription of mages, to have honest and logical bite. The Italian elements are window dressing, and there are no detailed parallels between Raverra and Venice other than the occasional gondola, which leaves room for Caruso to include ahistorical notes such as same-sex marriage and female generals. Readers may not be surprised by the outcomes of dilemmas but will be tantalized by the tension with which Caruso skillfully maintains her plot.
Rules of magic
I liked a lot of the ideas, story and characters in this book. It drags a bit. That being said will probably move on to book 2 at some point.