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The Ill-Made Mute

(The Bitterbynde #1)

3.72  ·  Rating details ·  4,058 Ratings  ·  256 Reviews
In a thrilling debut that combines storytelling mastery with a treasure trove of folklore, Cecilia Dart-Thornton creates a lushly romantic epic adventure, set in a world brimming with wonders and terrors.

The Stormriders land their splendid winged stallions on the battlements of Isse Tower, while the scullions who dwell in the fortress's lower depths rarely even see the sun
Paperback, 560 pages
Published April 1st 2002 by Warner Books (first published May 2001)
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Jordan No, there is no sexual content in the series. There are romantic interests, but these are not physical or explicit.
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Community Reviews

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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
Feb 16, 2012 added it
Shelves: fantasy, audiobook, dnf
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
Niki Hawkes - The Obsessive Bookseller
I found this book extremely difficult to get through. The narrative was so dry, I kept having to go back and reread passages because I'd zoned out. Part of the problem was the author kept stopping the story to tell other stories, which sufficiently killed any momentum it had going for it. Overall, the basic concept of the book was an interesting one, I just had issues with execution. I won't be continuing on.
Mar 21, 2013 rated it it was amazing
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
Dev Null
May 26, 2009 rated it did not like it
Recommends it for: people who enjoy reading the dictionary
Shelves: epic-fantasy, fantasy
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Apr 23, 2010 rated it it was amazing
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
Jan 06, 2012 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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
Aug 24, 2008 rated it it was ok
Shelves: fantasy, unfinished
Way to go, GR, giving away the surprise in the blurb.
Kristi Thompson
Mar 13, 2009 rated it liked it
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
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,
 Ms. Ewing
Nov 13, 2010 rated it it was ok
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Kelly Flanagan
Oct 12, 2013 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: favorites
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
May 15, 2011 rated it did not like it  ·  review of another edition
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.
Aug 08, 2011 rated it it was amazing
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.
Jan 07, 2009 rated it really liked it
Shelves: fantasy-fluff
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.
Jan 23, 2012 rated it did not like it
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
Kim Mallady
Aug 20, 2009 rated it did not like it
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
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
Apr 02, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
I wanted to like this book due to the beautiful descriptions, yet I quickly started to skim over these in the vain attempt to find the story.
This is a novel centred around learning more about the protagonist's identity, and it is a story that assumes that the readers sticks with it because they are intrigued enough by this quest and empathetic enough towards the main character. However, because the protagonist is so featureless for a long time and literally everyone around them is hard-hearte
Katie Breden
Jun 14, 2017 rated it really liked it
Wish I could do more of a 4.5. Really excellent with beautiful prose and a story that, while repetitive, is still enchanting all the way through. A nice world to live in for a time. The ending didn't make me *need* to go out and get the next book, I admit. I may read the rest of the trilogy, one day, but for now I'm satisfied having had this little adventure to live in for the beginning of summer.
Pensavo che con il passare delle pagine la storia avrebbe preso una piega molto più dinamica, invece fino alla fine è stata molto pesante. È un peccato, perché la scrittura della Dart-Thorton è affascinante, ma anche troppo lenta!
Storia originale ma super pesante! 😓
Jul 09, 2017 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: abbandonati
Abbandonato...davvero troppo lento e poco interessante...peccato!
Aug 12, 2013 rated it really liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 17, 2012 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantatrash
This review has been hidden because it contains spoilers. To view it, click here.
Jan 30, 2013 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
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
Dec 30, 2008 rated it it was ok  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: fantasy
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
Feb 22, 2014 rated it liked it
Shelves: fantasy
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
Aug 04, 2015 rated it it was amazing
Shelves: fantasy
Een personage kruipt uit een hol waar hij/zij niet moet zijn. Hij/zij valt en komt met zijn/haar gezicht in giftige planten. Hij/zij wordt gevonden door een oude bediende uit de toren. De toren van de stormrijders. De oude bediende verpleegt de Hij/zij totdat hij/zij kan werken. Hij/zij kan niet praten en heeft geen geheugen. Hij/zij heeft het niet makkelijk en wordt vaak geslagen.
En natuurlijk wil hij/zij, zijn/haar naam terug, zijn/haar geheugen, zijn/haar gezicht.

Kan je het nog volgen? Hij/zi
Sep 09, 2016 rated it really liked it
This book really came off to a slow start, but it grows on you as the story moves from a standstill in a tower to a journey in search of freedom and identity. The story is set in a world full of magic and creatures from folk lore, except in this story, it is not just stories, but the terrifying things in the woods and lakes are oh so real and dangerous.
At the start of the book I felt that I may not finish it all, but I was so wrong. I couldn't put it down. I needed to buy the following two book
Oct 08, 2014 rated it liked it  ·  review of another edition
Shelves: read-ebooks
Very nice, with an original main protagonist and very interesting characters. The story is compelling, the world-building solid and there are many delightful details of folklore and story-telling. Epic fantasy at its purest, with quests, treasures and all. Unfortunately, the pace is a bit slow -particularly and the beginning, when the reader absorbs a lot of information along with the amnesiac protagonist- and too much care in descriptions (and sometimes endless lists of objects and foods, or lo ...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

Other books in the series

The Bitterbynde (3 books)
  • The Lady of the Sorrows (The Bitterbynde, #2)
  • The Battle of Evernight (The Bitterbynde, #3)
“Nay, it ain't got fleas, and 'tis a girl.” 3 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.”
More quotes…