cover image The Unbound Empire: The Swords and Fire Trilogy, Book 3

The Unbound Empire: The Swords and Fire Trilogy, Book 3

Melissa Caruso. Orbit, $15.99 trade paper (560p) ISBN 978-0-316-46693-6

Lady Amalia Cornaro, accidentally bound to a fire warlock in 2017’s The Tethered Mage, frees mages from their captive service and her faux-Venetian Serene City of Raverra from its greatest threat in this rattling mix of politics and magecraft. Countering the infiltrations of the Vaskandar Witch-Lord Ruven, Amalia takes the war back to his domain, trading deep secrets with his rival, the Lady of Spiders, to learn how to lay a trap that can kill the immortal sorcerer. Caruso astutely plays off the political and the personal, making Amalia regularly aware of the implications of her friendships and romantic interests, while at the same time placing the real demands of love next to (and above) the thrills of infatuation. The suspenseful elements mingle with the horrors of unleashing magical fire on enemy conscripts. Amalia’s readiness to accept the responsibility for her decisions brings a welcome sense of growing into authority rather than merely inheriting it, and fans of the first two books will find this a fitting capstone to the trilogy. Agent: Naomi Davis, BookEnds Literary. (May)