First Lines

Posted: July 19, 2012 in Genre, Reading, Shelf of Honor
Tags: , ,

If you’ve read this blog for a while, you’ve probably heard me mention the Shelf of Honor. It’s my small shelf of my most favorite books. Inspired by a post over at, which frankly I can’t find after ten minutes of searching because their search function is crap. Nonetheless, it was a post about great opening lines in science fiction. There was a corresponding one for fantasy and one for closing lines. Zelazny showed up a few times which made me happy. And now that I mentioned Zelazny, I found the posts. Here’s Great Openings from Fantasy, which links to the others in the article.

So here are the opening lines from my most favorite of favorite books. Depending on the energy I have left and/or attention level my infant needs, I may talk about what makes for good opening lines or I might save it for later. And now, in no particular order….

“Colin saw Walter’s foot a moment before it connected with his stomach.” —Well of Sorrows by Benjamin Tate

“Do your neighbors burn one another alive?” was hownFraa Orlo began his conversation with Artisan Flec.” —Anathem by Neal Stephenson

“In a cold jail cell in Boston in Massachusetts Bay Colony on November 16, 1699, a weather-beaten man with hard scarred features unbuttoned his trousers.” —The Pirate Hunter: The True Story of Captain Kidd by Richard Zacks

“Gleaming steel, gleaming steel…” —Thirteen by Richard K Morgan

“Eliot Post and his sister, Fiona, would be fifteen tomorrow and nothing interesting had ever happened to them.” —Mortal Coils by Eric Nylund

“In an unremarkable room, in a nondescript building, a man sat working on very nondescript theories.” —Un Lun Dun by China Miéville

“Unpaved, uneven trails pretended to be roads; they tied the nation’s coasts together like laces holding a boot, binding it with crossed strings and crossed fingers.” —Boneshaker by Cherie Priest

“The sign was rain-streaked and had never been overly straight.” —A Thousand Words for Stranger by Julie Czerneda

“The night before he went to London, Richard Mayhew was not enjoying himself.” —Neverwhere by Niel Gaiman

“A mile below the lowest cloud, rock breaches water and the sea begins.” —The Scar by China Miéville

“In the tower of the nameless necromancer, it is always cold.” —Grunts by Mary Gentle

“Nothing here,” said Melchior,his voice echoing from the depths of an ancient citrus-wood chest.” —WebMage by Kelly McCullough

“The ticking of the conference room’s antique clock was deafening as the Hereditary President of the People’s Republic of Haven stared at his military cabinet.” —On Basilisk Station by David Weber

“It began, as many things do, in a tavern: about eight o’clock on a Friday evening, in The Pot of Gold on Post Hoc Lane in Simka.” —Trapped by James Alan Gardner

“Pull over!” cried Leila.” —Roadmarks by Roger Zelazny (although it starts at chapter two, so I’m not sure if that counts.)

“I did two things on my seventy-fifth birthday.” —Old Man’s War by John Scalzi

“Blackness. Blackness over and about her.” —In Fury Born by David Weber

“The small family group gathered in the library was only conventionally alarmed by the sound of a violent explosion – a singularly self-centered sort of explosion.” —The Night Life of the Gods by Thorne Smith

“At the height of the long wet summer of the seventy-seventh Year of Sendovani, the Thiefmaker of Camorr paid a sudden and unannounced visit to the Eyeless Priest at the Temple of Perelandro, desperately hoping to sell him the Lamora boy.” —The Lies of Locke Lamora by Scott Lynch

“About a third of the way down the massive wooden staircase the older of the two tuxedo-clad men paused, head up, nostrils flaring as though he were testing a scent on the air.” —Smoke and Mirrors by Tanya Huff

“Shadow had done three years in prison.” —American Gods by Neil Gaiman

“John Rolfe had rented the house for seventy-five a month, which sounded extortionate but was something close to reasonable, given the way costs had gonr crazy in the Bay Area since Pearl Harbor.” —Conquistador by S.M. Steirling

“Since Maria had decided to die her cat would have to fend for itself.” —Child 44 by Tom Rob Smith

“It started to end, after what seemed most of eternity to me.” —Nine Princes in Amber by Roger Zelazny

  1. Klein says:


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