This first novel by Australian Cecilia Dart-Thornton launches the Bitterbynde series, a saga of a young woman's search for her past and her destiny. An orphaned refugee taken in as a servant of powerful Isse Tower, a prominent Relay Station in the world's communications network, the main character is a nameless, badly scarred mute with little hope for better. He eventually escapes by stowing away on a magical Windship and is befriended by cheerful Sianadh, a self-professed madman and adventurer. Sianadh gives his companion two precious gifts: a name, Imrhien, and the knowledge that he is really a she
, raised as a boy to protect her from even worse treatment. Together the two journey into the deep green heart of a great forest, defeat the tricky magic of various eldritch wights and discover a vast treasure that will change their lives forever. When Imrhien learns of Maeve One-Eye, a healer who may be able to heal her scars and restore her memory, the girl is determined to seek her out. On the dangerous journey, Imrhien meets and falls in love with the Dainnan ranger Thorn, but doubts he could ever return her affections. While this novel doesn't stand well alone, readers who crave long and detailed journeys through fantastic lands filled with magical creatures will enjoy Imrhien's travels. Dart-Thornton's world takes many traditional elements of epic fantasy and manages to stir them into something charming and new. --Charlene Brusso
In a world where creatures of legend haunt the lands of men, and to be caught outside after dark means almost certain death, the inhabitants of Isse Tower are amazed when a mute, starving foundling is discovered outside their gates. With no recollection of her name or past, the girl soon realizes that her only hope of happiness lies in distant Caermalor, where a wise woman might be able to restore her memories. To get there, Imrhien must survive a wilderness of endless danger. Lost and pursued by unhuman wights, Imrhien is saved by Thorn, a mysterious, handsome ranger who becomes her protector-and the object of her hopeless love. But unknown to them, a dark force summons the Unseelie, and malignant hordes amass in the night. 'Not since Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring have I been so impressed by a beautifully spun fantasy' Andre Norton
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