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The Ill-Made Mute:
This first novel by Australian writer Cecilia Dart-Thornton begins the Bitterbynde series, the saga of a young woman's search for her past as well as 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--until he 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 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 magics 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 repair her scars and restore her memory, the girl is determined to seek her out. On the dangerous trip west, 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 [via]