Poetic Beginnings and Sad Endings (TCWT)

“What are your favorite book beginnings and/or endings?” 

Thus begins my TCWT post for September, because I couldn’t think of anything cleverer to say.  Since I still have nothing, I won’t bore you with it— right into the beginnings.

One of my favorite beginning is that of The Name of the Wind, by Patrick Rothfuss.  It’s an epic fantasy that doesn’t begin with a battle between the Dark Lord and the few ruggedly handsome who dare to stand up to him.  Instead, it begins with silence.  A silence so layered that you can feel it through the pages.  It’s called poetry, my friends, and it’s beautiful.

It was night again. The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts.

Another excellent, poetic beginning is that of The Book Thief.  Poetic, and hypocritical— the narrator tells you the truth no one wants to remember, then talks about colors to help himself forget about that same truth.  It’s a pretty amazing character moment as well as a great hook.

You are going to die.

And, for the sole reason that it hooked me on contact, the beginning to Dan Wells’ I Am Not A Serial Killer is amazing.  I don’t know how it works.  I don’t know if one changed word would destroy its value.  It’s creepy as anything you’ll read, but it hooks.  It’s a little gory, which is why I’m only linking to the quote on GoodReads— it’s amazingly powerful, but it’s still horror.

Those are just first lines.  Opening images?  There are plenty of those.  Again, Dan Wells delivers a great beginning: Partials.  Another scary image of a disease that’s killing everyone, careless of age or importance.

Brandon Sanderson’s The Way of Kings.  An assassin who goes through everything he wants to avoid, to kill a man he doesn’t want to hurt, with powers that he’s disobeying the heavens to possess.  It’s an amazing conflict of character that brings you right into the story.

But beginnings aren’t my favorite parts of books.  I tend to allow beginnings to pass so I can get to the rest of the story.  First lines don’t stick with me half as much as last lines do.

For instance, the last line to The Return of the King.  Sam Gamgee’s statement, “Well, I’m back” has so much character and emotion all at once.  Or, as at least one blogger has already mentioned on the chain, Charles Dickens’ end to A Tale of Two Cities.

It is a far, far better thing that I do, than I have ever done; it is a far, far better rest I go to than I have ever known.

But again, I don’t care that much about last lines— I like final images, scenes, and promise fulfillments much more.  Ptolemy’s Gate ended spectacularly, as did Castaways of the Flying Dutchman.  Both had a perfect amount of sadness to go along with the happiness of conquering evil.

But even with such bittersweet specimens… yes, there are better endings, or worse, depending on your view.  The Book Thief was all around one of the best books I’ve read, so it definitely hit its ending perfectly in all emotions.  Inkheart and Reckless both ended extremely well.  And The Serpent’s Shadow, by Rick Riordan, had another.  There are plenty of excellent endings out there, and I’m sure I can think up more.

Check out the other participants:

7th – http://vergeofexisting.wordpress.com/

8th – http://zarahoffman.com/

9th – http://thelittleenginethatcouldnt.wordpress.com/

10th – http://www.elizamcfarlish.weebly.com/

11th – http://sammitalk.wordpress.com/

12th – http://irisbloomsblog.wordpress.com/

13th – http://musingsfromnevillesnavel.wordpress.com/

14th – http://fantasiesofapockethuman.blogspot.com/

15th – http://miriamjoywrites.com/

16th – http://magicandwriting.wordpress.com/

17th – http://ttkesley.wordpress.com/

18th – http://www.brookeharrison.com/

19th – http://www.freeasagirlwithwings.wordpress.com/

20th – http://roomble.wordpress.com/

21st – http://unikkelyfe.wordpress.com/

22nd – http://erinkenobi2893.wordpress.com/

23rd – http://butterfliesoftheimagination.wordpress.com/

24th – http://lillianmwoodall.wordpress.com/

and http://www.paperdaydreams.com/

25th – http://write-where-you-are.blogspot.de/

and http://theedfiles.blogspot.com/

26th – https://insideliamsbrain.wordpress.com/

and http://anmksmeanderingmind.wordpress.com/

27th – http://semilegacy.blogspot.com/

and http://dynamicramblings.wordpress.com/

28th – http://oliviarivers.wordpress.com/

and http://randommorbidinsanity.blogspot.com/

29th – http://theloonyteenwriter.wordpress.com/

30th – http://thelonglifeofalifelongfangirl.wordpress.com/

and https://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ (We’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain.)


44 thoughts on “Poetic Beginnings and Sad Endings (TCWT)

  1. Oh, yes. All of these beginnings and endings are awesome and beautiful.

    My favorite ending is from Mama’s Bank Account by Kathryn Forbes. I will have to look it up and comment back later with it. (It’s apparently not to be found on the internet. Just the stuff from the black and white movie.)

    And I have no idea what my favorite beginning lines are. Inkheart and A Wrinkle in Time rival for beginning scenes.

    Good post.

  2. I’ve never read your choices, but the amount of people who have said “The Book Thief” are honestly making me wonder if I’ve been missing out for ages and ages.

  3. Very good post, you’ve done a much better job in about 700 words than I did in at least twice that. (I always write long, drawn out things when I’m in a hurry…)

    I was considering using The Book Thief in my post, but then I didn’t. I loved the opening line, but the prologue as a whole wasn’t an all-time favourite (though very good). Similarly, I loved the last page — and especially the last line — but for some reason I didn’t use it.

    I am itching to read The Name of the Wind.

    1. I was brain-dead and didn’t want to write this post, so I don’t think I did a very good job, but thank you. Yours wasn’t bad, though.

      I remember the emotions of the end of the book, but not quite the last line.

      You should be by now— I’ve recommended it enough.

      1. So we both wrote the post in less than ideal circumstances, with opposite results: mine turned long and drawn out, and yours turned short and to-the-point.

        The emotions were great, but the last line was another one of those “short facts”. If I remember right: “I am haunted by humans”.

        You certainly have, but I’ve seen it recommended in other places too. Plus, it has an average rating of 4.55 on GoodReads. I know GoodReads ratings aren’t everything, but that is pretty high.

      2. I guess so.

        Such powerful words. I’ll have to read it again sometime.

        Indeed it is. I think his writing has a lot to do with it. He writes beautiful words.

  4. Your title really just gives away the whole thing here, but good post all the same. I generally agree with you. My “taste” in beginnings and endings is pretty widely varied. If it grabs me, intrigues me in some way, or otherwise tells me “this will be a good book,” I say it’s a good beginning. If the ending is smooth, full of emotion, and doesn’t involve a ton of people dying for seemingly no reason, I say it’s a good ending. Simple as that.

      1. Such defined opinions are incredibly rare for me…

        It’s okay if some people die. Just not…too many of them. For seemingly no reason, as I said.

      2. Did I really? Or did you change it? (Like I said, I forget things. Especially important things, like whether or not I’m losing my mind.)

      3. Oh. True. Still, if the person running the blog can edit them…that could happen anyway. Of course, then people would probably stop commenting if they had any sense. So. I guess that makes sense.

        Good point…

  5. Love all of these choices, especially Return of the King, The Book Thief, and Inkheart; all of these are/were on my fav list 😀 Both of the Dan Wells books sound intriguing, I’m definitely going to check those out sometime 🙂

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