Title: The Obsidian Tower
Author: Melissa Caruso
Series: Rooks and Ruin
Page Length: 448
Publication Date: June 4, 2020
Synopsis: 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.
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The Obsidian Tower is the first book in Melissa Caruso’s Rooks and Ruin series. The story is set in the same universe as Caruso’s Sword and Fire series. However, you don’t need to read that series to become fully immersed in this series.
The story focuses on Ryx, a royal-born with magical powers. Unfortunately for her, her magic doesn’t work in the effective, life-giving way that the rest of her family’s does. Her magic and her touch harms. Because of this, she is a pariah in her own kingdom, feared and avoided by all but a small group of people. She, too, is afraid. She fears hurting people and hates the magic that she’s been cursed with.
However, as the story progresses, Ryx learns to use and control her power. As like most coming-of-age fantasies, as Ryx matures she learns more about herself, becomes more in control of herself, and develops more confidence and sense of self. It helps that her power might just save the kingdom. Ryx gains purpose which adds to her maturation and growth.
Much of the story is a struggle for power. As delegations from other kingdoms come to engage in peace talks, Ryx finds a spy in their midst. Courtly intrigue ensues, as Ryx also realizes that some of their “allies” are a little too interested in the tower that her family guards.
“Guard the tower, ward the stone…Nothing must unseal the door.”
Ryx knows that guarding the tower is of supreme importance. After all, this has been ingrained in her since childhood. When the tower is breached early in the story, Ryx and others have to deal with the ramifications of letting something evil into their midst.
Ryx is an amazingly well-developed character. Smart, caring, and determined, she is just what the kingdom needs. She has a strong and interesting group of friends and allies that support and complement each other.
I also loved her complex relationship with her enigmatic and powerful grandmother. From humorous banter to manipulative and mysterious conversation, their interactions captivated me from the start. I don’t want to give away too much here, but I’m curious to see what happens between Ryx and her grandmother in future books.
Finally, I love the messages presented in the novel. At the forefront are themes of self-worth, believing in yourself, and how corrosive power can be when selfishly gained.
Thanks so much to Netgalley and the publisher for an advanced copy of this book. All thoughts are my own.
- The protagonist. Ryx is dynamic and interesting – an unlikely hero that rises to her true possibilities.
- The unique twist at the start of the story. Much of the story is dealing with the ramifications of this one act.
- The strong messages of self-acceptance.
Readers of YA fantasy and author Leigh Bardugo will enjoy this magical and unique story.