Cover image for The ill-made mute
The ill-made mute
Dart-Thornton, Cecilia.
Personal Author:
Publication Information:
New York : Warner Books, [2001]

Physical Description:
437 pages : map ; 24 cm.

Format :


Call Number
Material Type
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Item Holds
X Adult Fiction Popular Materials-Science Fiction/Fantasy

On Order



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.

Author Notes

Cecilia Dart-Thornton lives in Australia.

(Bowker Author Biography)

Reviews 3

Booklist Review

Imrhein, a scarred, mute girl, is taken on as a servant in Isse Tower. Eventually, with the aid of a friendly wanderer, she escapes, learns handspeech, and begins her search for the secret of her origin and a way to recover the power of speech. On the way she learns that many of the tales of unworldly and dangerous creatures she has heard are true and that she and the land in which she dwells are in mortal danger. Dart-Thornton is a serious folklorist and has tried to use the British material on Faerie with as much fidelity as the narrative allows; indeed, she even alters the narrative to preserve folkloric authenticity. Hence, the book betrays a tension between being a fantasy tale and being folkloric exegesis that may not appeal to some. Yet enough will be won over by Dart-Thornton's world building and characterization to consume what must be considered an exceptionally proficient first book for its author and the series she launches with it. --Roland Green

Publisher's Weekly Review

The world of Erith, a strange, wild land filled with humans and fey creatures called wights, has its charms, but unfortunately a lack of underlying depth weakens this first novel from Australian Dart-Thornton. To Erith comes a poor unidentified soul who cannot speak and has lost all sense of self, including all memories of a past. This creature without a life has also become shunned by all after being horribly disfigured by an encounter with a poisonous plant. As the plot slowly, disjointedly spins out, the creature acquires a name Imrhien and a new identity as a girl. Her story is full of little adventures and unrelated incidents, but the author provides almost no foreshadowing or any real idea why Imrhien has lost her voice and her looks. The girl's travels, which carry her from one end of Erith to the other, include encounters with wights, which can be "seelie" (mostly not harmful) and "unseelie" (evil), and with Sianadh, a friendly man who gives her not only her name but the chance to seek pirate treasure. Later Imrhien and Sianadh's niece try to find Maeve One-Eye, a carlin who might help her recover her memory. Nasty folk try to thwart her, but their motives are never explained. Hopefully future installments will supply more background, but this initial volume makes a decidedly shallow start. (May 23) Forecast: With a blurb from Andre Norton likening this book to Tolkien's The Fellowship of the Ring, as well as a plug from Elizabeth Hand, this novel may attract a lot of initial attention, but the sequel is going to have to be stronger to sustain interest. (c) Copyright PWxyz, LLC. All rights reserved

Library Journal Review

A misshapen girl, unable to speak and scorned by those who dwell in Isse Tower, makes her escape into the world and seeks a destiny beyond her allotted fate. As the mute Imrhien learns to speak with her hands, she also discovers a deep love for the ranger Thorn even as she plunges into a deadly war against forces of evil. Dart-Thornton's first novel depicts a world that borrows from Celtic mythology but adds a few unique and refreshing twists. Featuring a courageous and unusual heroine, this series opener belongs in most fantasy collections. (c) Copyright 2010. Library Journals LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Media Source, Inc. No redistribution permitted.