The Ill-Made Mute (The Bitterbynde, #1)
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The Ill-Made Mute (The Bitterbynde #1)

3.72 of 5 stars 3.72  ·  rating details  ·  2,597 ratings  ·  163 reviews
A lushly romantic epic adventure of stunning scope and magical proportions, set in a world brimming with wonders and terrors.
Paperback, 587 pages
Published 2002 by Pan Books (first published 2001)
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(showing 1-30 of 3,000)
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"Then the mizzenmast was braced around, jibs and staysails sheeted home, 'tween mast staysails reset, course steadied and the spanker eased off"

Excuse me ? Could you put that in clear english or at least, as I saw suggested in another person's review of another book, put up a picture in which such things were marked clearly (and is it only me who really wants to know what a 'spanker' looks like ?)

Cecilia Dart-Thornton luxuriates in words and images and boy does she have a lot of them. When she...more
Dev Null
Jan 12, 2014 Dev Null rated it 1 of 5 stars  ·  review of another edition
Recommends it for: people who enjoy reading the dictionary
Shelves: epic-fantasy, fantasy
Oh man. Did I have trouble believing in the Harry Dresden of Storm Front? This ones got him beat hands down for incredulity. Our main character, a 15-year-old girl, wakes up mute, horribly scarred, and with no memory (but at least enough subconcious memory to deal with the world around her.) She then proceeds to live in a medieval castle as a servant for like a year before she realises shes a she. Yes, thats right, the 15-year old takes a YEAR to work out what sex she is. Do you _remember_ being...more
Barks & Bites
DNF because, shit, it’s boring

I have had a brand new paperback copy of The Ill Made Mute sitting in my pile of to be read books ever since I first bought it on a word of mouth recommendation back in 2001 or so. I probably should’ve read it then because now I have no patience for the tediously descriptive, wandering plot that comprises this story. That’s what happens when you realize you’re getting older and there are just not enough hours in the day to read boring books.

I’ll state up front that...more
There's a part of me that wishes I could have given this book more than three stars...but in the end, I only liked. I didn't love it. The idea is a good one: Celtic mythology heavily woven into a world that is part medieval/part steampunk (though there is no steam. Just airships). The protagonist is an interesting idea: hideously deformed and mute. There are moments of great beauty and the feel of the best kind of fairy tales.


But there are also times--and far too many of them--when the flori...more
I believe this is her first novel and it's descriptive passages were bewitching, in the old sense of the word. When I read this book I kept getting so drawn into the story that I was often late for appointments! I would sink into the landscape of marshes, forests and fog-hidden villages. Its mythical arc spans more than one lifetime and is full of fey creatures that are very individual and fully-fleshed out.
Its a fairy-tale for adults. Maybe even for children too, although dark and scary in part...more
I feel as though I need to defend my 5-star rating for what is, in fact, a flawed book (other reviewers are mostly right). For me, the book, and the series, is worth reading for the setting alone. Dart-Thornton's vision of a world based on Celtic folktales is complex and fully imagined, so complex that it actually serves some of the functions of character. This world may be divided between "seely" and "unseely," but it is far more morally complex than most fantasy worlds where villains are someh...more
Kristi Thompson
Odd book. Was wavering between "decent" and "eh', but I really liked the use of Celtic folk tales, so I was generous. She made a world where legendary folk-tale happenings were part of common, everyday life, but very different from books like One for the Morning Glory, or Bridge of Birds. The people were more like the historical Irish who told those tales, down to earth and unlovely and afraid.

I wish she'd found a better tale to set in her background. And written it with more skill. Lots of awkw...more
Ashleigh Oldfield
Wow, wow, wow. Fanstastic trilogy! This story has so many twists and turns that I never saw coming. I have read this story so many times I almost know it by heart.

This tale follows the journey of a young person's quest to find three things, and on the way discovers so much more. This story has everything: low life scumbags, a ruffian who turns out to be a hero, a hero who is not who he seems, a heroine who is not who she seems, and a tonne of mystery.

This book contains a lot of Celtic mythology,...more
Kelly Flanagan
As I clear a few little wet spots from my lashes, I start this review. Hoping t find out if the story continues or if I wait in helplessness like so many readers grasping for that next book in the series.

Because wow, this is a story to be reckoned with. soft and gentle the wording may seem at first, the horrors are so much clearer that way.

I was captured at the first. Echoes of the rain pattered outside my windows asking me to fall into the book, to let it take me into a dreamworld where all the...more
I thought this book was super frustrating. I was really excited to read it based on the description of it and it started out well. There are soooo many amazing elements in this book:

* Winged, flying horses that walk on the clouds with the help of these cool magnetic-y horseshoes.
* Ditto -magnetic-y pirate ships that fly through the air.
* the protagonist is a mute foundling, face scarred beyond recognition with no memory of how he/she came to be this way, no memory of the past.
* he/she was ra...more
I really, really didn't like this book. It was a struggle for me to finish. The only reason I did was because I read a review saying they liked the romance in this book and I'm a sucker for romance. But the romance here is very, very minimal, so don't let that be your reason for reading this!'

I'm not a writer, but once when I was in high school I decided to write a really long story. A few pages in I got bored and switched the story line completely, mid-story. A few pages after that, I changed i...more
Scanning down the other reviews, I'm glad I'm not the only one who noticed that the author used the word 'eldritch' in every third paragraph! Apart from a few 'pet' words that the author is obviously in love with, this book is the most boring case of thesaurus-rape that I have ever read. The romance is nausea-inducing, the language is dull and pretentious.
This is the first in a 3-part trilogy, jumped to top of my favourite books list. Very well-researched fantasy based on Celtic mythology. If you liked Lord of the Rings you will love this, the difference is that you never know which way the story and the main character are heading. One of the most beautiful love stories told.
Just got finished with this one and more than half way through the second...

Good ol'fantasy fluff. Fun read with some great vocabulary. The story is really well constructed too.
Pros: the world is beautiful, detailed, and fairly well built; the interspersed tales are enjoyable.
Cons: the pacing is awkward (slow and dragging, then quick bursts of action); and the characters were unbelievable. Example: Imrhien does not know she's a girl, has lost all her memory - yet she still manages to navigate the dangers of the wild better than an adventuring pirate. In addition, the storytelling episodes are not well integrated into the main narrative. Is this book supposed to be an A...more
Blake Baguley
I can't really add much to all the other reviews. A friend loaned me the book saying that it was a good story but not very well written. I think that about sums it up. I was increasingly intrigued by where the story was going the whole way through, but the ridiculously obfuscating writing style never settled down. The author has an absolute fetish for over-describing and, what's worse, doing it using words that nobody in their right mind has ever heard of and so of course can't picture. Hard to...more
When I first saw this book in the library I was intrigued; it had all the aspects of at least an average fantasy, and who knew, maybe it could have developed into an amazing one. Well, I know now. It doesn't, it didn't, it won't. This book was a startling disappointment for me. At first I thought it may be because I had been over reading and that I had become saturated with books, however, when I went back to it the result was just the same; dull, boring and oh so mind-numbing. Still, I was surp...more
Manuel Gugole
Che dire, mi è piaciuto!
Ho letto le prime 200 pagine con immane sforzo, strascicandomi da una pagina all’altra solo grazie ad uno dei principi a cui la mia vita si aggrappa: non si lasciano le cose a metà!
E così avanzavo annoiato, scorrendo lo sguardo su tante righe di testo piuttosto anonime, intrise di indubbia capacità letteraria, ma caratterizzate da un ritmo lento e direi spesso … immobile.
Ho conosciuto così il protagonista … un personaggio abbastanza piatto … non ha un passato, non ha un...more
The Ill-Made Mute (The Bitterbynde Trilogy Book 1) by Cecilia Dart-Thornton
It took a while for this book to get going. I hung on grimly and I'm enjoying it much more now. The main character is a young girl who has no memory and no voice and whose face has been ruined by a poisonous plant.

I've found a couple of grammatical errors/translations where the author has used Irish: alainn capall dubh, for instance, should be capall dubh alainn (beautiful black horse). The majority of adjectives come aft...more
Jody Nightbow
Really disappointed. Recommended to me by a friend who LOVES this series, and I can understand why it could be loved. Just not by me. I got about halfway through Ill-Made Mute, put it down, and couldn't be bothered to pick it up again. Unlike other reviewers, I have no complaints about dialect or big words or whatever. Um, I have a graduate degree in Folklore, seriously, so this kind of stuff is pretty familiar to me and I enjoy novelists who can work it well (Ben Aaronovitch's RIVERS OF LONDON...more
Erica Lyn
This is one of the best fantasy trilogies I've ever read and that's saying a lot. Cecilia Dart-Thornton takes Faerey mythology and brings it to life in this story. I left my copy behind in Wuhan 9 years ago and have regretted it ever since. It's really hard to find them on bookstore shelves so if you do make sure you pick it up (and then loan it to me).
Philip Green
Made it about 25% of the way through. The book doesn't stand out, the writing was not good enough to keep me interested. The character is a leaf in the wind type character, doing little on her own initiative, just going whichever way the plot devices blow. Probably not a terrible book, but I've read plenty of other similar fantasies and they no longer interest me.

Seems to be a fantasy of the type; character goes on a quest, random enemies pop up to attack said characters, random friends step in...more
Christine Treasure
I picked up this book because I remember reading it sometime throughout my high school career and absolutely loving it, unfortunately this wasn't the case on the second go-round. Maybe it had something to do with the fact that I remembered what some of the major plot twists were and that ruined it a little bit for me, because there are some GREAT twists and turns in this book but I think that may have been the main factor in my love for it the first time I read it. While the plot has good premis...more
Michelle Dee

I am not a reader of fantasy. This is a fantasy. I began to read it because my friend - who knows my tastes well - was raving about it. It sounded promising. She said there was character development. She said there was romance. It soon became clear her tastes and definitons are vastly different from mine and she had temporary amneisa, forgetting that I need a lot of romance and character development to be able to get through that much heavy-handed description.

Other reviews have described thi...more
Althea Ann
Although it's definitely not "serious" literature, I couldn't help liking this book. A mix of original high fantasy, Celtic legend, and escapist romance come together in a dazzling – if not all that substantial – mélange.
A youth, face hideously scarred and bearing other marks of violence, is found unconscious and brought to Isse Tower, a Stormrider's outpost. Deformed and ugly, and suffering from amnesia, the youth is reviled and works as a drudge – the lowest of the low. Driven to escape on one...more
It took me a long time to get into this story but once I did - wow.

The Ill-Made Mute begins mysteriously, the protagonist being a young person with a deformed face and no voice. She is rescued from the wilderness and bought back to health by an old crone and begins a life of servitude with no previous memories or no clue who she is. Indeed for the first half of the book she has been convinced she is a boy.

The part of the story when she is in the Stormrider tower is quite dull, and confusing, f...more
(This is a joint review for the entire trilogy. No spoilers)

So, the first book in the trilogy is titled The Ill-Made Mute. I highly recommend it. Now, a large part of the book is very hard to wade through. I would not be surprised if this woman had earned a doctorate in pre-Industrial Celtic and Anglo-Saxon folk tales and legends. She incorporates almost every known folk tale from these cultures as a bona-fide part of her world. The Great Hunt rides at night, seelie and un-seelie wights await a...more
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Barry King
I'm sorry to say I just couldn't get into this book. It is rich with myth and storytelling and innovative concepts. Unfortunately, after 150 pages, that's about all. The central character being mute and amnesiac, as well as horribly disfigured and abused seemed far to gimmicky for me, as if it was a clever person's idea of what might engender mystery and sympathy. But a blank slate also means that there is very little to become attached to. Instead, I became attached to the bit parts that occupi...more
John Dalton
I picked up a second-hand copy of this some time ago after beeing told "you must read this book". It was apparently critically acclaimed, but few people I know had read it. My wife tried to read it first (as I was already working through a stack) and gave not without getting very far through it.[return][return]The book starts off slowly, and the florid prose takes some adjustment. Scenes are frequently described in great visual detail, in language that may require you to occasionally reach for a...more
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Cecilia Dart-Thornton was born and raised in Melbourne, Australia, graduating from Monash University with a Bachelor of Arts degree in sociology.

She became a schoolteacher before working as an editor, bookseller, illustrator and book designer.

She started and ran her own business, but became a full-time writer in 2000 after her work was 'discovered' on the Internet and published by Time Warner (New...more
More about Cecilia Dart-Thornton...
The Lady of the Sorrows (The Bitterbynde, #2) The Battle of Evernight (The Bitterbynde, #3) The Iron Tree (The Crowthistle Chronicles, #1) The Well of Tears (The Crowthistle Chronicles, #2) Weatherwitch (The Crowthistle Chronicles, #3)

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“Nay, it ain't got fleas, and 'tis a girl.” 4 likes
“Eating be eating, b'ain't it, Birdie?'
'Nay, Uncle Bear: In Caermelor, at the Royal Court, they be so-oh, so much more advanced than anywhere else. 'Tis not done to wipe your fingers on your hair or the tablecloth, or belch, or speak with your mouth full of food, or scratch, or pick your teeth at table. Ye have to use little forks to pick up the food. Ye not allowed to pour wine for your betters or for yourself, but to wait for them to deign to pour it for ye, if they be feeling generous. And the carving of the meats must be done a certain way, and as for the toasts-it would take ye a whole day just to learn the complications.
'Takes the fun out of eating,' observed Sianadh.”
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