Tuesday, February 19, 2008

The Bitterbynde Trilogy: The Ill-Made Mute

A sweeping fantasy novel by Cecilia Dart-Thornton. From the first page Cecilia draws you in with vivid descriptions in a well constructed world. You can tell it is going to be an interesting journey as you have immediate empathy for the poor damaged creature who has the lead role in the novel. You feel elated in its eventual escape, but worry for its safety and relief at its seeming rescue. You feel worry and thrill in accordance with the story and the end literally left me with tears streaming down my face.

It has more flesh than some of the more ‘standard’ fantasy novels that have an aim and try and get there (with as much done as possible) in a straight line. This story however, meanders along and asks you to enjoy the journey. The prose is rich and poetic and incredibly detailed, so if you like action style fantasy novels this won’t be one for you.

The lore and bestiary of the world is well thought out and draws heavily on little known Celtic lore, but the high number of unusual words make it a slight trial if you let yourself get bogged down on them. A more comprehensive phrase and word reference would have been helpful in this respect.

The basic story is that of a severely disfigured and mute foundling, reared in a remote castle by a lowly servant, where it is abhorred by all who see it. Lonely and longing for something more, the youth escapes on a Windship that is attacked by pirates and culminates in a sudden escape/rescue by a red-haired Ertish adventurer. Truths are revealed and a name bestowed upon the nameless fugitive. A magical journey ensues with the Ertishman. Learning that the disfigurement may be healed, a journey to far Caermelor to seek a famed healer is undertaken with disastrous results and a wilderness must then be crossed with two companions – a young Ertishman who feels bound to assist the mute, and a Dainnan ranger who is courteous but distant.

I am looking forward to reading the next instalment in the trilogy!

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