“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.
***HERE IS A SMALL FACT***
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:
8th – http://zarahoffman.com/
15th – http://miriamjoywrites.com/
and https://teenscanwritetoo.wordpress.com/ (We’ll announce the topic for next month’s chain.)