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33 Reviews
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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not your average fantasy novel.
At the start of the story our main protagonist is injured, amnesiac, and mute. The reader finds things out with this character, and is kept guessing right to the end. I can't write too much without giving plot spoilers.
The story starts at Isse Tower, a home for a powerful aristocrat, nexus in the worlds communication system - perhaps a cross between a castle and a...
Published on 16 Jan 2002

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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Simply not compelling
I shall have to confess that I gave up about one third into the book. I see that there are many reviws here that are full of praise, so pay no heed to my review unless you find that you have the same preferencs as me:

I like to get into the story, and I like page-turners and "un-put-down-ables". The urge to find out what is going to happen next, or to learn...
Published on 16 Dec 2007 by Anine


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6 of 6 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Not your average fantasy novel., 16 Jan 2002
By A Customer
At the start of the story our main protagonist is injured, amnesiac, and mute. The reader finds things out with this character, and is kept guessing right to the end. I can't write too much without giving plot spoilers.
The story starts at Isse Tower, a home for a powerful aristocrat, nexus in the worlds communication system - perhaps a cross between a castle and a stately home - where messages and valuable trade items, carried through a strange and dangerous world by Stormriders, (and air ships) can be exchanged. HOwever, our main character soon journeys in other parts of the world, and has adventures interesting to read about, though perhaps not such fun to live through!
Some elements (wights, seelie and unseelie) are drawn from traditional folklore sources, and there are attributions in the back of the book. However, this will not enable you to second guess the plot - it will take you by surprise. Now I can't wait to read the second book in the trilogy.
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14 of 15 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Over-written, but worth the slog, 3 Jan 2004
By 
Tara Saunders (Derry, NI) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Ill-Made Mute (The Bitterbynde Trilogy) (Paperback)
I'll admit that, for about the first 50 pages or so of this book, I could cheerfully have put it down and not bothered to finish. Cecilia Dart-Thornton has a lush, heavily-detailed writing style which really interfered with me getting into the story and, to be honest, which annoyed me quite a bit.
Once I really engaged with the character, though, I found this to be an excellent, mature read. Yes, the character does come of age and yes, the plot revolves around a quest for self-knowledge, but this story has little in common with the common run of fantasy novels. There's a maturity here that can't help but ensnare the reader.
I found the world-building breathtakingly detailed, and although I found myself skimming great chunks of descriptive detail right to the end, I also ordered my copy of The Lady of the Sorrows as soon as I finished the last page. What greater praise?
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Simply not compelling, 16 Dec 2007
By 
Anine (Trondheim, Norway) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
I shall have to confess that I gave up about one third into the book. I see that there are many reviws here that are full of praise, so pay no heed to my review unless you find that you have the same preferencs as me:

I like to get into the story, and I like page-turners and "un-put-down-ables". The urge to find out what is going to happen next, or to learn more about the world in which the story is set, will make me read on. Now do not get me wrong, I do not like shallow writing, on the contrary, I like to experience as much of the culture around the actual plot as I can.

My problem with this book was that it simply went too far. Ms Dart-Thornton writes page after page filled with a lot of description and little action, and even less action that seems to be relevant to a plot.

Yet, she somehow manages to leave out proper descriptions of important things, like how the towers work. I am sure she had it all worked out in her head, but she fails to pass this knowledge on to the reader.

I put this book down because I just couldn't see where it was going, and it was hard to read. If you are an extremely patient soul, perhaps you will be rewarded, and perhaps I just cannot appreciate a true masterpiece. It depends on what you like in a book.
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5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Totally awesome, 30 Jan 2002
By A Customer
I loved the Ill-Made Mute and my only problem is I didn't want it to end. I have never been so fascinated with another world. I felt like I was really there and sharing all the emotions of the characters. Its a very original book in its style of language and also in the plot.
One of the best books I've ever read, by far.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Disappointing & Confusing, 28 Jun 2008
This review is from: The Ill-Made Mute (The Bitterbynde Trilogy) (Paperback)
Take a large amount of folklore (wights, waterhorsese, will o the wisps), add most of an obscure dictionary, an amount of bad poetry and way too many minor characters, squish them all into one book with a sprinkling of inspiration and you get The Ill-Made Mute. I did enjoy the opening scenes and the main character's bewilderment about who or what they might be, and what this place they find themselves in is, but when the bewilderment of the reader continues at about page 150 and I've read enough description consisting of lists and have only a vague idea of what this world is and what we're about its time to call a halt.

This was terrible, far too ambitious a project, badly constructed and epic in the "tedious, needs an editor" sort of way. A lot of the ideas were good but when you find yourself skimming past flying ships and winged horses to find the storyline and waiting for things to slot into place, its not a good sign. I didn't actually finish this and was very glad I only borrowed it from the library.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Points for ambition, 5 July 2004
By 
V. Chan - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
Ms Dart-Thornton is the first fantasy writer in a long time who is clearly trying to emulate, not Tolkien, but the baroque excesses of E R Eddison. She fails, of course, but the lunatic courage of her ambition deserves respect. There are good things about her trilogy (this review is of all three books: she is not a hack; she has a real story to tell, and in fact each volume has enough story in it to fill your average ten-volume epic all by itself; and at the end of the second volume I had no idea how the whole thing was going to turn out. These are rare virtues. But she really needs a very fierce editor, with a big blue pencil and a hatred for adjectives. And nouns. CDT has clearly done a vast amount of research into absolutely everything, but there is no need to put it all into the book. That is what author websites are for. CDT has managed to sustain a seriously archaic style of dialogue at length, mostly successfully, though she has a tin ear occasionally (the Fair Folk may well have an"allergy" to iron, but the use of 20th century medical terminology is fatally jarring in the context); however,the rest of the work needs serious editing. The baroque is an agreeable style when well-handled, but I can only assume that her editors were too intimidated by the admirable breadth of CDT's vocabulary to warn her when her story collapses under its weight of overwrought verbiage. Cruel fans will be playing the Stephen Donaldson game with her books.
in short, I will still read her next book, but with some nervousness,and a dictionary to hand.
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3 of 3 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars WONDERFUL!, 21 Mar 2002
By A Customer
I don't know what to say about The Ill-made Mute, because it's sooo delicious to read, i just can't put into words what it's like.
The imagery is rich and real, and this novel delves that little bit further in it's romance, so that you don't have to depend on reading between the lines.
Being a reader who's usually sceptical and hard to please, this book came as a breath of freash air, and is up among books like The Lord of the Rings.
The story line, is deep and well-paced, and the ending is successfully satisfying, while still maintaining an air of mystery which caused me months of anxious waiting for the second part of this trilogy.
5 stars!
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Unseelie wights & things that go bump in the night., 4 July 2002
By 
Amazon Customer "Bones" (Newcastle-on-Tyne, UK) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)   
This review is from: The Ill-Made Mute (The Bitterbynde Trilogy) (Paperback)
A blend of Dark Age ignorance, Renaissance inventiveness and the buckle-my-swash of the heyday of Sail combine to make a great read, but it's not that simple .. Imagine a combination of Gormenghast, Jabberwocky and the Tales of the Brothers Grimm, with a dash of Deepwoods and a touch of Lord Dunsany - these are the ingredients of a lushly-described tale, the likes of which I haven't enjoyed since I first started reading fantasy.
AND - it has a map - I don't think any book that contains a map has ever disappointed me.
A horribly disfigured youth with no memory or power of speech is at the bottom of the pecking order in Isse Tower. However, hidden talents and a desire to be cured of the ugliness take him on a fantastic journey, where the old wive's fairy tales are proven to be true, and where he finds a friend who teaches him to communicate and incidentally discovers an amazinq revelation.
The delicious inventiveness of the prose conjures up visions far more tangible than any common words could (as any reader of Lewis Carroll will attest), and the undercurrent of Gothic darkness and spookiness serves to heighten the subtle tension that slowly builds during the first few chapters.
The author has an amazing grasp of folk-lore and also knows her ships and rigging - the descriptions of life and work on board a pirate ship surpass many books in the mainstream nautical genre.
As a first novel, plunging straight in at the start of a trilogy, this is an exceptionally fine read - please let the succeeding books be as good! *****
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8 of 9 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Absolutely brilliant., 21 Sep 2001
By A Customer
I love this book. From the very first sentence, I was engrossed in another world. It is like no other fantasy story I have ever read, filled with weird creatures, adventure and romance. I can hardly wait for the second and third books in the series.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Dart-Thornton opens a window into another world, 4 Jan 2006
By 
K. Edwards "katie_hobbit_9" (Isle of Wight) - See all my reviews
(REAL NAME)   
This review is from: The Ill-Made Mute (The Bitterbynde Trilogy) (Paperback)
I have to admit, the first time I picked up this book, I didn't finish it. Dart-Thornton's writing could be called over-descriptive and long-winded, if you are not in the frame of mind to appreciate it. However, on the second reading it became clear that she is an extremely intelligent writer, and though there are a lot of words to plough through, the rewards are well worth it. Her use of rich detail brings her world to life, when you read it in a receptive frame of mind. "The Ill-Made Mute" is no straightforward, bog-standard fairy tale or fantasy novel, instead it gives a tantalising glimpse into the Perilous Realm of the Fair Folk. It is not an easy read, but once drawn into the world, like the world of the Faeran, you won't want to leave. Comparisons with Tolkien are inaccurate, however, as this is one of the few really good fantasy writers with a mind and a style of their own.
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The Ill-Made Mute (The Bitterbynde Trilogy)
The Ill-Made Mute (The Bitterbynde Trilogy) by Cecilia Dart-Thornton (Paperback - 9 Aug 2002)
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