Published: June 2, 2020
Publisher: Orbit Books
Series: Rooks and Ruin #1
Pages: 528 (Paperback)
My Rating: 4.0/5.0
A copy of this book was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review.
The mage-marked granddaughter of a ruler of Vaskandar, Ryx was destined for power and prestige at the top of Vaskandran society. But her magic is broken; all she can do is uncontrollably drain the life from everything she touches, and Vaskandar has no place for a mage with unusable powers.
Then, one night, two terrible accidents befall her: Ryx accidentally kills a visiting dignitary in self-defense, activating a mysterious magical artifact sealed in an ancient tower in the heart of her family’s castle.
Ryx flees, seeking a solution to her deadly magic. She falls in with a group of unlikely magical experts investigating the disturbance in Vaskandar—and Ryx realizes that her family is in danger and her domain is at stake. She and her new colleagues must return to the family stronghold to take control of the artifact that everyone wants to claim—before it destroys the world.
Having absolutely loved Melissa Caruso’s first series, it only made sense for me to be equally excited for news of a brand new series set in the same world. This is set a number of years after the events of the first series and many of the characters are new, but there are a few familiar names that pop up. Things have changed a great deal since Amalia Cornaro’s push for mage rights in the first series and readers do get to see this, though the series is set in Vaskandar and the main character is the granddaughter of the Lady of the Owls.
Ryx is mage marked and should really be at the pinnacle of Vaskandran society, but her magic is deadly to any who may come in contact with her. She serves her grandmother, the Lady of the Owls, but has no one she can really call friend except for one of the castle gargoyles. Part of her job is to ensure that no one enters the obsidian tower that lies at the heart of Gloamingard. Its purpose is unknown, only that it must not be opened by anyone under any circumstance. Of course, there wouldn’t be a story if some foolish and ambitious mage-marked didn’t force their way into it, unleashing unknown trouble. This foolish person was the beloved of the neighboring witch lord, and when she was killed he demanded vengeance for her death. Ryx is sent to find a group of magical experts that have a deployment nearby the castle in hopes that they can help with whatever may have been unleashed when the seals were breached.
Ryx was quite a likable character and it was easy to sympathize with her desire to just be normal. She wants to be useful, but she also wants friends and human contact without the fear of harming those she cares for. The Rookery (the magical experts) were a delightful bunch that found Ryx to be fascinating rather than terrifying and I quickly fell in love with the whole group of them. The less savory characters were just as delightful, but in an evil sort of way. The Shrike Lord, whose beloved entered the tower, was rather awful. Perhaps not quite as reprehensible as Lord Ruven from the first series, but manipulative and abusive for sure. His brother, while not necessarily entirely a good guy was quite a spicy addition to the book as well.
Overall, this was a great intro to a new series in a much beloved setting. Looking back, I ended up rating the Tethered Mage 4 stars as well, so I’m hoping that the next book will really solidify my love for this new series in much the same way! The characters are compelling, the stakes are high, and boy oh boy, do I love those morally grey Vaskandran guys.