In a dark and perilous realm, a nameless outcast seeks a voice, a past, and a future: “A dazzling debut” (Jennifer Roberson).
In all of Erith, there is perhaps no one as wretched as the nameless mute foundling confined to the lowest depths of Isse Tower. Abused by many and despised by all, the pathetic creature lives without memories in the shadows. The amnesiac longs to escape—to roam the wild landscape in search of a past, a name, a destiny—but dangers surround the tower. Only flying ships and majestic winged horses carrying important visitors can reach the castle safely, landing high above the ground on its battlements. The local servants whisper about malevolent creatures that roam the forests and bear no love for humankind. Escape seems impossible in this treacherous world of wights and monsters.
Praised as Australia’s J. R. R. Tolkien, Cecilia Dart-Thornton has set a towering new standard for fantasy fiction, earning the respect and acclaim of readers, reviewers, and some of the world’s most renowned fantasists. With roots firmly embedded in the ancient folklore of the British Isles, The Ill-Made Mute—the opening volume of Dart-Thornton’s magnificent Bitterbynde Trilogy—introduces fantasy lovers to an unforgettable character whose remarkable adventures rival the epic trials of the Bagginses and the tales of The Silmarillion.
The world of Erith, a strange, wild land filled with humans and fey creatures called wights, has its charms, but unfortunately a lack of underlying depth weakens this first novel from Australian Dart-Thornton. To Erith comes a poor unidentified soul who cannot speak and has lost all sense of self, including all memories of a past. This creature without a life has also become shunned by all after being horribly disfigured by an encounter with a poisonous plant. As the plot slowly, disjointedly spins out, the creature acquires a name Imrhien and a new identity as a girl. Her story is full of little adventures and unrelated incidents, but the author provides almost no foreshadowing or any real idea why Imrhien has lost her voice and her looks. The girl's travels, which carry her from one end of Erith to the other, include encounters with wights, which can be "seelie" (mostly not harmful) and "unseelie" (evil), and with Sianadh, a friendly man who gives her not only her name but the chance to seek pirate treasure. Later Imrhien and Sianadh's niece try to find Maeve One-Eye, a carlin who might help her recover her memory. Nasty folk try to thwart her, but their motives are never explained. Hopefully future installments will supply more background, but this initial volume makes a decidedly shallow start.