The Dragonbone Chair (1988)
- All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by DAW Books
- He who is certain he knows the ending of things when he is only beginning them is either extremely wise or extremely foolish; no matter which is true, he is certainly an unhappy man, for he has put a knife in the heart of wonder.
- Author’s Warning
- A king’s son has nothing but inferiors, each one a potential assassin.
- Chapter 1, “The Grasshopper and the King” (p. 12)
- I shall endeavor to turn dross to purest Metal Absolute: in short, to teach you something.
- Chapter 4, “Cricket Cage” (p. 41)
- “I’m your apprentice!” Simon protested. “When are you going to teach me something?”
“Idiot boy! What do you think I’m doing? I’m trying to teach you to read and to write. That’s the most important thing. What do you want to learn?”
“Magic!” Simon said immediately. Morgenes stared at him.
“And what about reading...?” the doctor asked ominously.
Simon was cross. As usual, people seemed determined to balk him at every turn. “I don’t know,” he said. What’s so important about reading and letters, anyway? Books are just stories about things. Why should I want to read books?”
Morgenes grinned, an old stoat finding a hole in the henyard fence. “Ah, boy, how can I be mad at you...what a wonderful, charming, perfectly stupid thing to say!” The doctor chuckled appreciatively, deep in his throat.
“What do you mean?” Simon’s eyebrows moved together as he frowned. “Why is it wonderful and stupid?”
“Wonderful because I have such a wonderful answer,” Morgenes laughed. Stupid because...because young people are made stupid, I suppose—as tortoises are made with shells, and wasps with stings—it is their protection against life’s unkindnesses.”
“Begging your pardon?” Simon was totally flummoxed now.
“Books,” Morgenes said grandly, leaning back on his precarious stool, “—books are magic. That is the simple answer. And books are traps as well.”
“Books are a form of magic—” the doctor lifted the volume he had just laid on the stack, “—because they span time and distance more surely than any spell or charm. What did so-and-so think about such-and-such two hundred years agone? Can you fly back through the ages and ask him? No—or at least, probably not.
But, ah! If he wrote down his thoughts, if somewhere there exists a scroll, or a book of his logical discourses...he speaks to you! Across centuries! And if you wish to visit far Nascadu or lost Khandia, you have also but to open a book....”
“Yes, yes, I suppose I understand all that.” Simon did not try to hide his disappointment. This was not what he had meant by the word “magic.” “What about traps, then? Why ‘traps’?”
Morgenes leaned forward, waggling the leather-bound volume under Simon’s nose. “A piece of writing is a trap,” he said cheerily, “and the best kind. A book, you see, is the only kind of trap that keeps its captive—which is knowledge—alive forever. The more books you have,” the doctor waved an all-encompassing hand about the room, “the more traps, then the better chance of capturing some particular, elusive, shining beast—one that might otherwise die unseen.”
- Chapter 7, “The Conqueror Star” (pp. 92-93)
- “Now, boy, now...” he said bewilderedly, “what is all this talk of glory? Have you caught the sickness, too? Curse me for a blind beggar, I should have seen. This fever has cankered even your simple heart, hasn’t it, Simon? I’m sorry. It takes a strong will or practiced eye to see through the glitter to the rotten core.”
- Chapter 10, “King Hemlock” (p. 139)
- Nothing is without cost. There is a price to all power, and it is not always obvious.
- Chapter 10, “King Hemlock” (p. 142)
- Simon, there are more things you don’t know than there are things that I do know. I despair of the imbalance.
- Chapter 12, “Six Silver Sparrows” (p. 177)
- The fear was all he had left, but even that was something—he was afraid, so he must be alive! There was darkness, but there was Simon, too! There were not one and the same. Not yet. Not quite...
- Chapter 13, “Between Worlds” (p. 199)
- Damn everyone to Hell. And damn the bloody forest. And God, too, for that matter.
He looked up fearfully from his chill handful of water, but his silent blasphemy went unpunished.
- Chapter 16, “The White Arrow” (p. 238)
- “This fellow,” he indicated the woodsman with a sweep of his stick, “will reliably not become more alive, but he may have friends or family who will be unsettled to find him so extremely dead.”
- Chapter 17, “Binabik” (p. 253)
- We trolls say: “Make Philosophy your evening guest, but do not let her stay the night.”
- Chapter 17, “Binabik” (p. 260)
- “It would please me your not being obsequious. That is a trait of marketplace people who are selling shoddy goods. I am sure to prefer endless, stupid questions to that.”
“Obsequious. Flattering with oiliness. It is not liked by me. In Yiqanuc we say: ‘Send the man with the oily tongue to go and lick the snowshoes.’”
- Chapter 18, “A Net of Stars” (p. 262)
- The wise man is not waiting for the realness of the world to prove itself to him. How can one be an authority before the experiencing of this realness? My master taught me—and to me it seems chash, meaning correct—that you must not defend against the entering of knowledge.
- Chapter 18, “A Net of Stars” (p. 266)
- “Neither War nor Violent Death,” Morgenes had written, “have anything uplifting about them, yet they are the candle to which Humanity flies again and again, as complacently as the lowly moth. He who has been upon a battlefield, and who is not blinded by popular conceptions, will confirm that on this ground Mankind seems to have created a Hell on Earth out of sheer impatience, rather than waiting for that original to which—if the priests are correct—most of us will eventually be ushered.
- Chapter 20, “The Shadow of the Wheel” (p. 302)
- Not being stupid is important.
- Chapter 24, “The Hounds of Erkynland” (p. 360)
- As he silently approached the last float, a latticework ball of reeds, he offered an unspoken prayer to He Who Always Steps on Sand that even now the little bottom-walkers were pushing and shoving their way into the cage below. Because of his unusual education, which included a year living on Perdruin—unheard of for a Wrannaman—Tiamak did not really believe in He Who Always Steps on Sand anymore, but he still held a fondness for him, such as might be felt for a senile grandfather who often tumbled down from the house, but once brought nuts and carved toys. Besides, it never hurt to pray, even if one did not believe in the object of prayer. It helped to compose the mind, and, at the very least, it impressed others.
- Chapter 28, “Drums of Ice” (p. 447)
- Ambitious men never believe others aren’t the same.
- Chapter 30, “A Thousand Nails” (p. 484)
- “Is this being in love?” he suddenly wondered? It was nothing like the ballads he had heard sung—this was more irritating than uplifting.
- Chapter 31, “The Councils of the Prince” (p. 500)
- “Sharp it away, lad, sharp it away,” the burly guardsman said, making the blade skitter across the whetstone, “lest otherways ye’ll be a girl afore ye’re a man.”
- Chapter 31, “The Councils of the Prince” (p. 502)
- Perhaps he was a bumpkin; at least he was an honest bumpkin.
- Chapter 32, “Northern Tidings” (p. 516)
- If you have not noticed, we are preparing for war. I’m sorry if that inconveniences you.
- Chapter 34, “Forgotten Swords” (p. 549)
- “Thank you, Duke,” the troll said seriously. “May your god be blessing us indeed. We go into unknown places.”
“As do all mortals,” Josua added. “Sooner or later.”
- Chapter 34, “Forgotten Swords” (p. 567)
- The spider hung motionless, like a dull brown gem in an intricate necklace. The web was complete, now, the last strands laid delicately in place; it stretched from one side of the ceiling corner to the other, quivering gently in the rising air as though strummed by invisible hands.
For a moment Isgrimnur lost the thread of talk, important talk though it was. His eyes had drifted from the worried faces huddled near the fireplace in the great hall, roving up to the darkened corner, and to the tiny builder at rest.
There’s sense, he told himself. You build something and then you stay there. That’s the way it’s meant to be. Not this running here, running there, never see your blood-family or your home roofs for a year at a time.
- Chapter 37, “Jiriki’s Hunt” (p. 619)
- Light, with its handmaiden color, was everywhere.
- Chapter 37, “Jiriki’s Hunt” (p. 629)
- No charm is proof against a dagger in the back.
- Chapter 40, “The Green Tent” (p. 677)
- “There is nothing like the ocean to remind you of what is important,” she said quietly, and smiled. Cadrach’s returned smile was weak.
“Ah, by the Good Lord, that’s true,” he groaned. “I am reminded that life is sweet, that the sea is treacherous, and that I am a fool.”
Miriamele nodded solemnly, staring up at the bellying sails. “Those are good things to remember,” she said.
- Chapter 41, “Cold Fire and Grudging Stone” (p. 713)
- “Never make your home in a place,” the old man had said, too lazy in the spring warmth to do more than wag a finger. “Make a home for yourself inside your own head. You’ll find what you need to furnish it—memory, friends you can trust, love of learning, and other such things.” Morgenes had grinned. “That way it will go with you wherever you journey. You’ll never lack for a home—unless you lose your head, of course...”
- Chapter 42, “Beneath the Uduntree” (p. 718)
- When you stopped to think about it, he reflected, there weren’t many things in life one truly needed. To want too much was worse than greed: it was stupidity—a waste of precious time and effort.
- Chapter 42, “Beneath the Uduntree” (p. 724)
- “I have not slept well since I first entered my brother’s dungeons. While my comfort has improved since then, worry has taken the place of hanging in chains as a denier of rest.”
“There are many kinds of imprisonment,” Jarnauga nodded.
- Chapter 43, “The Harrowing” (p. 739)
Stone of Farewell (1990)
- All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published by DAW Books
- “Not everyone can stand up and be a hero, Princess,” he said quietly. “Some prefer to surrender to the inevitable and salve their conscience with the gift of survival.”
Miriamele thought about the obvious truth of what Cadrach had said as they walked on, but could not understand why it made her so unutterably sad.
- Chapter 2, “Masks and Shadows” (p. 37)
- Fear goes where it is invited.
- Chapter 7, “Spreading Fires” (p. 171)
- Things are not always as old songs tell them to be—especially when it is concerning dragons.
- Chapter 8, “On Sikkihoq’s Back” (p. 176)
- Simple answers to life’s questioning. That would be a magic beyond any I have ever been seeing.
- Chapter 8, “On Sikkihoq’s Back” (p. 188)
- Sometimes you men are like lizards, sunning on the stones of a crumbled house, thinking: “what a nice basking-spot someone built for me.”
- Chapter 9, “Cold and Curses” (p. 207)
- She knew that life was but a long struggle against disorder, and that disorder was the inevitable winner.
- Chapter 9, “Cold and Curses” (p. 211)
- Thank you for your news, Princess. It is none of it happy, but only a fool desires cheerful ignorance and I try not to be a fool. That is my heaviest burden.
- Chapter 9, “Cold and Curses” (p. 237)
- Part of manhood, I am thinking, is to ponder one’s words before opening one’s mouth.
- Chapter 12, “Birdsflight” (p. 297)
- He wanted a home desperately. He was close to the point where he would take a mattress in Hell if the Devil would lend him a pillow.
- Chapter 14, “A Crown of Fire” (p. 342)
- There are three kinds of people—the living, the dead, and those at sea.
- Chapter 19, “Children of the Navigator” (p. 475)
- “Do you get tired, singing?” she asked.
Gan Itai laughed quietly. “Does a mother grow tired raising her children? Of course, but it is what I do.”
- Chapter 23, “Deep Waters” (p. 591)
- “As with all dwellings,” she said, “of mortals and immortals both, it is the living that makes a house—not the doors, not the walls.”
- Chapter 25, “Petals in a Wind Storm” (pp. 626-627)
- There are no promises in life, Sludig, but it seems to me smarter to take fewer chances.
- Chapter 25, “Petals in a Wind Storm” (p. 640)
- The manchildren, the mortals, have many ideas of what happens after they die, and wrangle about who is right and who is wrong. These disagreements often come to bloodshed, as if they wished to dispatch messengers who could discover the answer to their dispute. Such messengers, as far as I know of mortal philosophy, never return to give their brethren the taste of truth they yearn for.
- Chapter 28, “Sparks” (p. 707)
To Green Angel Tower (1993)
- All page numbers from the mass market paperback edition published in two volumes by DAW Books
- She didn’t know which she liked less, having people tell lies about her or having people know the truth.
- Chapter 2, “Chains of Many Kinds” (p. 71)
- Sometimes doing the gods’ bidding required a hardened heart.
- Chapter 4, “The Silent Child” (p. 145)
- She had little doubt that whatever happened to her on this drifting ship was of scant interest to a God who could allow her to reach this sorry state in the first place.
- Chapter 6, “The Sea-Grave” (p. 185)
- If the strong can bully the weak without shame, then how are we different from the beasts of forest and field?
- Chapter 8, “Nights of Fire” (p. 255)
- I gave up the love of learning for the love of oblivion—the two cannot live together.
- Chapter 9, “Pages in an Old Book” (p. 296)
- The last thing a drunkard loses, you see, is his cunning: it outlasts his soul by a long season.
- Chapter 9, “Pages in an Old Book” (p. 301)
- It was impossible to see warfare as anything other than what Morgenes had once termed it: a kind of hell on earth that impatient mankind had arranged so it would not have to wait for the afterlife.
- Chapter 12, “Raven’s Dance” (p. 392)
- Only the mercenaries were here by choice. To Simon, the minds of men who would come to this of their own will were suddenly as incomprehensible as the thoughts of spiders or lizards—less so, even, for the small creatures of the earth almost always fled from danger. These were madmen, Simon realized, and that was the direst problem of the world: that madmen should be strong and unafraid, so that they could force their will on the weak and peace-loving. If God allowed such madness to be, Simon could not help thinking, then He was an old God who had lost His grip.
- Chapter 12, “Raven’s Dance” (pp. 392-393)
- Tiamak closed his eyes to make a short prayer of thanks, hoping that the gods, like children, could be confirmed in good behavior by praise.
- Chapter 13, “The Nest Builders” (p. 405)
- She realized now that she knew little about people outside the courts of Nabban and Erkynland, although she had always thought herself a shrewd judge of humanity. However, it was a larger and much more complicated world on the other side of the castle walls than she had ever suspected.
- Chapter 13, “The Nest Builders” (p. 406)
- It was easy to hate if he did not think, Simon discovered.
- Chapter 15, “Lake of Glass” (p. 469)
- You can never tell when princes will get squinty on you. You can never tell when they might suddenly feel their blood and go all royal.
- Chapter 17, “Bonfire Night” (p. 523)
- She had been dressed in her sky-blue gown and had been suddenly almost terrible in her completeness—so different from the ragged serving girl who had slept on his shoulder. And yet, the very same girl had been inside that blue dress.
- Chapter 17, “Bonfire Night” (p. 540)
- “Why can nothing be simple?”
Geloë shifted on her stool. The wise woman’s voice was surprisingly sympathetic. “Because nothing is simple, Prince Josua.”
- Chapter 20, “Travelers and Messengers” (p. 635)
- Are these things you all say magical charms to chase me away? If so, they do not seem to be working.
- Chapter 20, “Travelers and Messengers” (p. 636)
- Perhaps it is fortunate that most heroes who die for their people cannot come back to see what the people do with that hard-bought life and freedom.
- Chapter 20, “Travelers and Messengers” (p. 639)
- Miriamele was dismayed by her own willful ignorance. How could she, with all her native good fortune, be so consumed with the few inconveniences that God or fate had put in her way? It was shameful.
She tried to tell Duke Isgrimnur something of her thoughts, but he would not let her slide too far into self-loathing.
“Each one of us has our own sorrows, Princess,” he said. “It’s no shame to take them to heart. The only sin is to forget that other folk have theirs, too—or to let pity for yourself slow your hand when someone needs help.”
- Chapter 21, “Answered Prayers” (p. 649)
- Everyone at the Hayholt had seemed obsessed with the empty ritual of power, something Miriamele had lived with for so long that it held no interest for her. It was like watching a confusing game played by bad-tempered children.
- Chapter 4, “A Thousand Leaves, A Thousand Shadows” (p. 99)
- Empires were like seawalls, he thought sadly, even those which embodied the best of hopes. The tide of chaos beat at them, and as soon as no one was shoring up the stones any more...
- Chapter 6, “The Circle Narrows” (p. 150)
- Strangely, although the world is already full of fearful things, mortals seems always to hunt for new worries.
- Chapter 13, “The Fallen Sun” (p. 307)
- To fight a war, you must believe it can accomplish something. We fight this one to save John’s kingdom, or perhaps even to save all of mankind...but isn’t that what we always think? That all wars are useless—except the one we’re fighting now?
- Chapter 13, “The Fallen Sun” (p. 314)
- In times of badness, gold is being worth more than beauty.
- Chapter 15, “A Meandering of Ink” (p. 357)
- “You have something that might be more use to me than either gold or power—something that in fact brings both in its train.”
“And what is that?”
The count leaned forward. “Knowledge.”
- Chapter 21, “The Frightened Ones” (p. 491)
- Binabik had taught him to do only what he could at any given time. “You cannot catch three fish with two hands,” the little man often said.
- Chapter 24, “The Graylands” (p. 540)
- There was nothing he could do unless he accepted what was real.
- Chapter 24, “The Graylands” (p. 544)
- “In my experience,” he said with more than a touch of bitterness, “the gods do not seem to care much what their servants deserve—or at least the rewards they give are too subtle for my understanding.”
- Chapter 25, “Living in Exile” (p. 569)