My Favourite Book Beginnings: Part Two

In my last post on book beginnings I gave you excerpts from a couple different books but I have some more favourite beginnings that I’d like to share.

“Like a school of jewel-toned tropical fish on the reef, the crowd in the marketplace suddenly veered away as QuiTai stepped off the veranda of the sunset-pink building into the town square.”  The Devil’s Concubine, Jill Braden

This is one that really piqued my interest because it was so foreign, so different.  There’s talk of tropical fish and colourful buildings and the main character has an unusual name.  That’s not really what you expect to see in fantasy.  I’ve come to expect stereotypical Medieval European-esque fantasy worlds, not ones based on a tropical culture like The Devil’s Concubine is.

“I.  Tiberius Claudius Drusus Nero Germanicus This-that-and-the-other (for I shall not trouble you yet with all my titles) who was once, and not so long ago either, known to my friends and relatives and associates as “Claudius the Idiot”, or “That Claudius”, or “Claudius the Stammerer”, or “Clau-Clau-Claudius” or at best as “Poor Uncle Claudius”, am now about to write this strange history of my life; starting from my earliest childhood and continuing year by year until I reach the fateful point of change where, some eight years ago, at the age of fifty-one, I suddenly found myself caught in what I may call the “golden predicament” from which I have never since become disentangled.”  I, Claudius, Robert Graves

This is quite a long beginning but it’s an important introduction to our supposedly stammering, bumbling, idiotic protagonist who’s really quite clever.  Even if you know nothing about Roman history you can tell that Claudius is likely to find himself in a position of power after being mocked his whole life for his stammering and bumbling ways.  So if he’s the idiot everyone seems to think he is, how is his writing so intelligent and articulate?  That’s a mystery revealed slowly over the narrative and it’s quite fascinating.  But really, it was the beginning that caught my attention initially.

“They came from Memphis, Thebes, and Heliopolis to see the Savior born.” Lily of the Nile, Stephanie Dray

This one’s short and sweet compared to my previous examples but it too packs a punch.  Obviously from the names you can tell that this is ancient Egypt if the cover had not already given that way.  But who is this Savior?  Will he/she actually grow up to be a savior or is this hope in vain? 

“I bear a deep red stain that runs from my left shoulder down to my right hip, a trail left by the herbwitch’s poison that my mother used to try to expel me from her womb.” Grave Mercy, Robin LaFevers

I’ll admit that the beautiful cover had attracted my attention to this book at first, but it was the opening line that made me buy it.  Who is our mysterious scarred protagonist?  Why did her mother try to abort her as a fetus?  How on earth did she survive?  And what is life like for her now?  It’s a mystery and it’s sort of refreshing to see a protagonist who has an actual, disfiguring mark on her body and not just a tiny scar on the back of her hand or something.

These are all great beginnings to great books.  What I want to know now is this: what are you favourite book beginnings?  Do you see any here that you like/make you want to read the book?

5 comments

    • Carrie Slager

      That’s one of the classics. 🙂 What I found funny about the English language is that we make huge distinctions between say 1:00am and 1:00pm whereas in most other languages it’s 01:00 and 13:00hrs. The 24 hour clock makes a lot more sense to me personally now that I’m learning Italian even though I’ve grown up using the traditional North American 12 hour segments.

  1. Michalea Moore

    This was my favorite opening for all of 2013 from The Space Between by Brenna Yovanoff.

    Once, my mother told a whole host of angels that she’d rather die than go back to a man she didn’t love.

    This was a long time ago, before famine or war or the combustion engine. Before my father fell from grace and killed a thousand divine messengers on the way down. Back then, my mother was young and wild. She had another life.

    • Carrie Slager

      I actually read The Space Between and I’d definitely have to agree that the opening lines were pretty powerful. The rest of the book didn’t really measure up for me, but the opening lines were wonderful.

  2. andrewevilgenius

    “It rained toads the day the White Council came to town.” – Summer Knight, Jim Butcher.

    “What year these events transpired is of no consequence. Where they occurred is not important. The time is always, and the place is everywhere.” – What the Night Knows, Dean Koontz

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