Monday, 15 July 2019

The Best Fantasy Series You've Never Read....

...and probably never heard of.

Recently I've been trying to become more socially active, to try and push back against the blockades that my poor mental health has put in place over the years and left me as near a hermit for practically half a decade. This means over the last two months I've been attending weekly D&D sessions organised by a local 'Guild' and a monthly creative writing group.

Both of these have motivated me in reading various articles, blog posts and other such media from various fantasy authors on the subjects of writing, worldbuilding and other internalised finesses (for example I recently looked in-depth into Sanderson's Laws of Magic on his own blog). A lot of these authors refer back to their own work and the works of other authors (often these overlap a lot when you read the different articles and blog posts back-to-back) when giving instances and examples that fit the points they're trying to make.

However, across all the articles, blog posts and even recommendation lists of fantasy series, one name has never come up, which I think is a shame: Cecilia Dart-Thornton. I discovered her first series of books (The Bitterbynde Trilogy) in 2004 in a case of sad serendipity. I was looking for a new series of books to read and found this trilogy going really cheap in a chain bookstore. The blurb on the back described a world and style of writing so different to anything I'd read before and I knew there and then that I had to, figuratively, devour this trilogy. Yet this isn't the series I want to focus on in this post.

Before moving onto her second (and so far, final) series of books, I'll describe a little more about the author herself. Australia born, she seems to have slipped under the radar when it comes to being a public figure despite her books receiving great reviews and making it onto a few bestseller lists, and after her second series of books were published, she all but disappeared; falling silent for nigh on a decade aside from a few short stories and articles published in magazines. Nevertheless, she is a consummate student of British folklore and that reflects deeply in the worlds she built in her novels, so if we are left with only these two series to her name, then they are, by sheer weight of grandeur, her magnum opus.

That would have been an excellent line to end on, however, I've yet to get to her second series of books. These hold a special significance to me as I again discovered them quite by accident. I had been made street-homeless for the second time and my access to new literature was restricted to what I could borrow from the city library. Again, I was looking for something new to escape into and there, settled betwixt other volumes was the first book of the Crowthisle Chronicles; The Iron Tree. Despite my bleak situation, I was overjoyed by this thin, angel-fingered ray of light and in between dragging myself out of the pit I had foolishly found myself in (it was a hard road, but I did get there in the end) I quickly devoured it, followed by The Well of Tears, Weatherwitch and Fallowblade. Much like her previous series, the Crowthistle Chronicles had threads of folklore expertly woven into the tapestry of her world, from mythical creatures to the use of ancient Brythonic languages. Dart-Thornton had taken what she had learned from writing the Bitterbynde trilogy and refined it tenfold.

The Crowthistle Chronicles stands as one of the best fantasy series I've ever read, so much so that it made me cry frequently, more so than any other novel or collection thereof I've read since. Its breathtaking scope is worthy of the title 'epic fantasy' and its ending left me with that hollow ache of a much-enjoyed series finishing but leaving behind a craving for more. I urge everyone who reads this to please consider my words and give the Crowthistle Chronicles a chance, you won't be disappointed.

Спасибо за прочтение


  1. I'm intrigued, I'll try and get it when I'm in the UK this summer or get it from amazon and co ;)

    1. You may struggle to find it second-hand bookstores, so Amazon may be your best bet. :3

  2. Interesting. I'll have to see if I can hunt up a copy. Thanks for the tip!

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