Book Review: THE OBSIDIAN TOWER by Melissa Caruso

Title in dark grey-yellow next to a floating tower of obsidian
Genre: Fantasy (political)
Age Range: Adult
Star Rating: 5 stars
Series: yes - book 1 of trilogy


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.

Synopsis taken from Goodreads. Add to your shelves here.


It’s a new Melissa Caruso book! Did we expect anything less than a gushing review of how much I am in love with it? The plot, the new cast, the politics; I’m in love with it all – and I’m so glad it’s living up to my very high expectations after her debut trilogy.

The new cast feels a little larger, and the Rookery have such a fun dynamic; the stabby one (Ashe makes me laugh every time the rules are brought up, aka – don’t stab everyone), the sensible one, the clever one, the leader. Ryx fits in so nicely with them. Then you have Aurelio, the Falconer who can help with her power but has complicated loyalties of his own.

And let’s talk about Severin, the Witch Lord’s brother who is going to die if he defies, no matter how unreasonable his brother is. I’m assuming he’s going to become the fan favourite and rightly so. Like Kathe? Well, you’ll love Severin – and his character growth in the book is wonderful.

THE OBSIDIAN TOWER is set 150 years after the end of THE UNBOUND EMPIRE, so it’s an entirely new cast. There aren’t really any spoilers for the first trilogy (beyond, spoiler alert, the villain didn’t win). However, there are lots of references, most of which are so subtle you might not even notice unless you’re obsessed with the first trilogy.

It’s slightly less “densely” political than THE TETHERED MAGE – there’s still plenty of politics and manoeuvring and all that stuff I adore, but it’s also leaning a little bit more towards a giant world-ending threat.

I loved seeing the Vaskandran side of the politics. The ways they approach solving disputes is different to the Raverrans, full of rituals and overt power shows. Ryx is trying to balance that against the far subtler Raverrans, as she tries to mediate a peace between the two that quickly becomes more complicated as they learn more and more about the gate.

If world-ending stakes is more your cup of tea, then I’d suggest this book as your “way in” to Melissa Caruso’s work. If you don’t mind, then I’d suggest reading this after her debut trilogy, because then you’ll catch more easter eggs – and it’s also a completed trilogy so you can binge in one go.

Unlike THE TETHERED MAGE, THE OBSIDIAN TOWER was conceived of as a trilogy, so the overarching threat is so much clearer in this book. It’s big and bold and world-ending on a scale not seen of in her first trilogy, and I love it! To be fair, there had to be a significant threat upping between her two trilogies, so that the danger felt realistic – because we saw how the world dealt with the previous danger. This is a threat x1000, which will be very interesting to deal with going forwards. I can’t wait for the next book, THE QUICKSILVER COURT.

Read my reviews of other books by Melissa Caruso:

Rooks and Ruin (this series):

Swords and Fire (set 150 years earlier):

3 thoughts on “Book Review: THE OBSIDIAN TOWER by Melissa Caruso

  1. I came here from your Ivory Tomb review which I clicked on because of THAT COVER. So I needed to know what this series was all about. This sounds like such a great read! But now that I know that it’s part of a world, I need to read the other trilogy too!

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Side note, just checked amazon for The Tethered Mage and it turns out I bought the ebook in 2018 and just never read it. Looks like I have a new book to read! lol

      Liked by 1 person

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