This topic contains 37 replies, has 2 voices, and was last updated by Miss Linda 4 months ago.
June 12, 2015 at 3:08 pm #2751
Some weeks there are two or three (or four) great excerpts, and I agonize while trying to decide which one to post. Sometimes there is one beautiful sentence which just rises off the page and glows, but it wouldn’t make a whole post on its own. And some of my favorite scenes are heartbreaking and beautiful, but so spoilery. So I give up! Here’s where I’ll post the snippets that don’t make the front page.
June 12, 2015 at 3:13 pm #2752
The voices in his head that cried coward and weakling drew back into the shadows. He knew he was those things but feared them no longer. Then another voice spoke. It called him throne warden and protector and uncle, and at last he believed it.
A surge of power ran hot through his bones. With one final shove, the cage splintered into pieces. Grey Fangs tumbled backward. Bent steel littered the floor.
Artham P. Wingfeather stood in the center of the debris, bloodied and panting, eyes ablaze.
He was aware of an odd sensation in his back and wondered if he had broken some of his ribs. Children from the Carriage scattered to the corners of the cavern, while the Grey Fangs recoiled and whined like puppies.
Artham drew in a deep breath, spread his arms, and loosed a victorious scream. As he did, two graceful wings unfolded from his back, the feathers damp and glistening. They were dark gray, flecked with white and speckled eyelets of the brightest crimson. Though they were still sharp as knives, his talons had narrowed and lengthened enough that they felt more like hands and less like claws.
Artham felt lighter and stronger, and for the first time in nine years, his mind was clear and sure. The words to a hundred of his own poems scrolled across his memory; he saw faces of old friends, battles he had fought, and even the most terrible moments of his life—and yet he remained himself. The wild animal inside that he had struggled so long to kill pulsed with power, but it was no longer his master. He rode the pain like a knight rides a horse.
—From North! Or Be Eaten, Chapter 59, “The Transformation.”
That first paragraph and that last line just kill me. This is one of my favorite scenes in the whole series.
June 20, 2015 at 9:29 pm #2828
I’m joining in too, since the things I really wanted to post this week gave too much of the story away. Plus, as usual, I like too many different quotes.
“Artham circled the mast of the ship once before landing lightly on the deck. His transformation from Peet the Sockman to a powerful winged being gave Janner hope that the world wasn’t just full of terrible surprises but wonderful ones too.”
And another one…
“Are we going to be all right?” Kalmar asked.
“I think so,” Janner said. “Didn’t you hear? Our mother is the Queen of the Shining Isle.”
I have more, but I think I will put the others in a post of their own.
June 20, 2015 at 9:48 pm #2829
When I say I “liked” the ones in this post, that doesn’t really capture what I mean. I don’t mean they make me happy or that they are pleasant to read. At least for me, they aren’t. What I mean is that they resonate with me and I find them very meaningful.
From chapter 4, which is fittingly named “Fresh Wounds,” these two sections just a couple paragraphs apart show how complex things have become between the brothers. While I can’t say that I have been in a situation exactly like Janner’s, I really identify with his struggle. I’ve found myself angry with someone when I don’t want to be, and trying desperately to handle it well, but knowing that I was failing. Janner’s deeper wound leads to Kalmar’s fresh one.
Even as he laughed Janner was fascinated by the way the old Kalmar seemed to peer out through the Grey Fang, as if he were only wearing a costume.
Kalmar clapped Janner on the back, right on one of his bandages. Janner hissed and jerked away. The cold, painful memory of Kalmar’s claws raking his skin returned, and Janner felt a flash of irritation. At first it was just irritation that Kalmar had smacked him, but beneath it lay a seed of anger, a deeper wound that worried Janner. He didn’t want to be angry. He was glad Kalmar was back, and he knew that the Fang who had thrashed in the water was only a shadow of his little brother. But still. It had been those same claws. Those same teeth.
“Sorry,” Kalmar said. He wasn’t smiling anymore.
“Don’t worry about it.” Janner tightened his grip on the wheel and shrugged. “Just keep those claws to yourself.” He meant it as a joke, but it came out bitter.
Before he could apologize, Kalmar shrank away and padded across the deck.
The other passage that I both love and hate is this one, from chapter 6. To me, this is the stuff of nightmares. I can think of very little that would frighten me more than what Kal is about to have to face.
“I don’t want to go,” Kalmar said in a small voice from somewhere in the corner.
“It’s beautiful. You should see it. They can hardly believe we’re here. I can hardly believe it myself. There’s not a Fang in sight.”
Kalmar was silent.
The silence filled the hold until Janner realized what he had said. “You’ll be fine, Kal. Mama’s like a queen to them. And you’re- you’re the High King of Anniera. It doesn’t matter how furry you are.”
“They’re going to stare at me. And they’ll know.”
“They’ll know what?”
“They’ll know how weak I was.”
August 7, 2015 at 2:34 pm #3185
There were two more bits that I loved from this week’s reading. Here’s the first:
Guildmaster Clout folded his arms and surveyed the guildlings, allowing them time to take in what they saw. There were platforms and passageways, low walls with windows, and ladders that led to rope bridges high above. One of the walls was fitted with pegs and little outcroppings for climbing. Everywhere Janner looked, there were ropes, poles, platforms, and a thousand other ways to break an arm or a leg. It was beautiful. …
Clout gave orders and the guildlings obeyed, unable to conceal their smiles. Janner fetched the slingshot, thinking how silly he was to have ever wanted to join the bookbindery guild.
The Durgan guildlings climbed and crawled for an hour under Clout’s supervision before he ordered the same drills with the lights out. In the darkness of the windowless Sneakery, guildlings tripped, slipped, and ran into each other so often that in the end they were all scared to move. Janner couldn’t remember the last time he had had so much fun.
—From chapter 36, “Snaphounds and Snowfall.”
This does sound fun. But I’m still a Bookbindery guildling all the way. 🙂
August 7, 2015 at 2:34 pm #3186
And the second:
“Children,” Nia said, “I need to speak with you about something.”
The children sat up when they heard the somber tone in her voice.
“What’s wrong?” Janner asked. “Do we have to leave again?”
“No, no. Nothing like that.” Nia smiled, but her eyes were strangely sad. “I need to tell you about Rudric and me. We’ve been courting.”
The three children looked at each other, then at Nia, and burst out laughing.
“Did you think we didn’t know that?” Kalmar said. “You hardly know we exist when he’s around.”
“And he’salways around,” Leeli said.
Nia laughed and shook her head. “I forget how smart you three are. But there’s more.” Her smile vanished and she looked each of them in the eye. Janner thought for a moment that she looked frightened, but then he discounted that idea. Nia Wingfeather was never frightened. “He’s asked me to marry him.”
In the silence that followed, Janner was surprised to feel a stab of pain in his chest. He knew he should be happy for her. He liked Rudric. But for some reason, when Nia said those words, Janner heard something very different. He heard his mother say, Your father really is dead. He heard her say, I’m letting him go. He heard, We’re never going home. Let Anniera burn. It’s over.
Tears leapt into Janner’s eyes. He felt his mother’s gaze on him, and it burned his skin. He heard himself sob as he staggered to his feet, and then he ran.
He ran blindly into the snow, not knowing or caring which direction. His heart erupted with anger and sadness and embarrassment and hurt that he had to put somewhere. So he ran. His cheeks ached with cold. His nose dripped, and he hated the way he sounded, blubbering words that made no sense. He wanted his father to be alive, to love his mother, to make her young again, the way she had been just now. He fell to the ground and convulsed with sobs, heedless of the snow on his face.
He wanted to be alone, and he wanted to be found. He wanted his family to ignore him, to show their indifference and feed his anger, and at the same time he pleaded to the Maker that they would come and lift him from the frozen ground. And in the middle of it all, he felt the Maker’s presence so palpably that the very wind seemed to be his breath and the snowflakes his touch. Janner knew he was not alone, nor could he be, however far he ran.
Then he felt hands on his back and arms, and heard Kalmar’s voice in his ear. “I’m here.”
Kalmar lifted him to a sitting position and studied Janner’s face with eyes that were moist and sad. Janner saw no trace of yellow there. Only blue. “She doesn’t understand, you know. To her, he’s been dead for nine years. But it’s like we just found him this summer, in Uncle Artham’s tree house. And now it’s like he’s dying all over again.”
—From chapter 36, “Snaphounds and Snowfall.”
August 8, 2015 at 7:28 pm #3198
I had a second section that I liked, so I’m glad you made this thread. I like this section for a couple reasons. First, because it is a tiny little story within the larger story, a pivotal moment for a very minor character. I like how even minor characters are rounded out. But I also like it because it echos a lot of the themes of the larger story, and even has foreshadowing, all within a rather fun episode that doesn’t give anything away if you aren’t watching for it.
Kalmar was on the roof of the building, two wolf ears poking over the edge. “What should we do?”
“I don’t know,” Janner whispered, “but I think we stand a better chance if we work together.”
“That’s what I was thinking,” said another voice from behind a prickly bush at the corner of the building.
“Who’s that?” Janner whispered.
“Joe Bill,” came the answer.
“It’ll only work if one or two of us is a sacrifice,” Janner whispered. “We need to distract Clout and let the other one get the apple.”
“But I don’t want to get whacked!” Joe Bill said. “That sounds like it hurts.”
“You’re going to get whacked either way,” Janner said. “Look, you can be the one to get the apple. Kalmar and I will be the distraction. All right?”
“I’m not as fast as Kalmar,” Joe Bill said after a moment.
“Nobody is,” Janner said.
“Hush! Here he comes!” Kalmar hissed.
The three boys held their breath as a shadow passed, quiet as smoke and low to the ground.
When Clout had gone, Joe Bill said, “Aw, Kalmar should do it. It’s either him or nobody, the way I see it.”
“I agree. Kal?”
“All right, if you’re sure. What do I do?”
“Joe Bill and I will flank the apple tree. I don’t think Clout will expect anyone to come straight across the courtyard. When he comes after us, make a run for it.”
“A sneaky run,” said Joe Bill.
Janner waited till he heard another whack from farther away, and said, “Now!”
August 23, 2015 at 5:10 pm #3293
This section doesn’t seem to fit for the front page, but it will fit well here. Nia is amazing. If someone is about to die, their last words are usually pretty powerful, but what Nia has to say is also full of wisdom and grace. She speaks to Kalmar what he needs to hear more than anything else. But more than just that, she is working for the good, not just of her family, but also her people. Even while they are trying to kill her and her child, she is trying to help them, to lead them to see and repent of the wrong in their hearts.
Nia smiled. “I don’t know what happened, but this isn’t the time to talk about it. We don’t have much time left. I just want you to know that I love you. I love you and I don’t regret vouching for you. I’d do it again.” Nia kissed him and turned to Podo, Janner, and Leeli. “Papa, children, if they go through with this, please don’t blame them. The Hollowsfolk are just deceived. It’s Gnag who’s to blame. His poison has embittered them, and it will take great mercy to undo that. I know you’re going to want to leave here, but stay. Your presence will remind the people of this treachery and will convict their hearts in the years to come. They must remember what happens here today, and recon with it, and be humbled. Only then will their hearts soften. That’s what your father would have you do.”
August 29, 2015 at 1:15 am #3440
So many good parts this week, but so many of them have spoilers in them, so I am putting them here. I have several pieces I may post eventually, but not enough energy to do it right now. But this one… this one is too good to skip.
“Kalmar, come closer so I an see you.”
Kalmar wiped his eyes and sat up. Janner watched with wonder as the two of them looked at each other: the great bear and the little wolf; the High King and his heir; the lost father and his outcast son.
“Have they done to you what they did to me?” Esben asked.
Kalmar nodded. “I’m sorry, Papa. I wasn’t strong enough.”
“None of us are, lad. Me least of all.” Esben smiled and took a rattling breath. “But it’s weakness that the Maker turns to strength. Your fur is why you alone loved a dying cloven. You alone in all the world knew my need and ministered to my wounds.” Esben pulled Kalmar closer and kissed him on the head. “And in my weakness, I alone know your need. Hear me, son. I loved you when you were born. I loved you when I wept in the Deeps of Throg. I loved you even as you sang the song that broke you. And I love you now in the glory of your humility. You’re more fit to be the king than I ever was. Do you understand?”
Kalmar shook his head.
Esben smiled and shuddered with pain. “A good answer, my boy. Then do you believe that I love you?”
“Yes, sir. I believe you.” Kalmar buried his face in his father’s fur.
“Remember that in the days to come. Nia, Janner, Leeli- help him to remember.”
This is brokenness redeemed! I think I have just scratched the surface of understanding the Truth behind this section. Every time I read it, I seem to see something more, something new. I know what I am seeing is more than just a story in a book, but I’m glad that this book helped me see it.
September 23, 2015 at 1:14 pm #3667
This just gave me chills.
September 4, 2015 at 9:28 pm #3494
There is a section that made me very sad, but it is too long to type all of it. So I’m going to type bits of it and leave some parts out. Leeli feels things deeply, so I can’t help but feel them along with her.
Podo had made her a new crutch that had at its foot a sort of snow boot, which kept it from stabbing through to the frozen earth every time she leaned on it. Instead of “Lizardkicker,” Podo had merely carved Leeli’s name along the shaft, and she had noticed with a pang of sadness that the letters were sloppy and uneven- a big difference between that and the bold, sure hand that had carved her nickname back in Skree.
Today, when she stood on the front stoop and breathed the cold air, looking out on the view of the Green Hollows from Chimney Hill, she didn’t bother bidding her grandfather goodbye because he had fallen back to sleep as soon as breakfast was finished. Podo seemed to be aging suddenly, just as winter seemed to be turning to spring all at once.
As Leeli climbed out of her sled, she felt a welling anxiety in her heart and knew its source. It wasn’t just that Podo’s time was coming- it was because spring meant war. And war meant death, and pain, and terror. She had seen enough in her nine years to know that even if the Hollowsfolk were victorious against Gnag the Nameless, victory would come at a terrible price.
But Leeli had come to cherish each day at Chimney Hill, each meal with her family, each visit to the houndry, each hiss of sled on snow, each speeding trip through the streets of Ban Rona, each kind face that greeted her. The mud beneath the snowmelt and the scrape of stone on her sled’s runners was as sad to her as the deepening wrinkles on her dear Podo’s face. How terrible was the truth that it was unstoppable, no matter how earnest her prayers.
September 21, 2015 at 3:58 pm #3641
I kinda hate this section and the things it makes me feel and the questions it brings up. Yet I also love it and I’m glad it is in the book. This resonates with me, but I don’t think I’m going to try to explain why.
The Fang looked around the crowded hall before bursting into laughter. It was an awful sound. The Hollowsfolk cowered before it. Leeli’s cheeks flushed with annoyance at the people of Ban Rona, a people supposedly renowned for their strength all but quaking in their britches before a single Fang. She knew it was more than just the Fang they feared- it was the loss of their families’ lives, the destruction of their homes. But their lack of resolve made Leeli angry.
(I’m skipping the part where Leeli plays a song and the Hollowsfolk find their courage. The Fang cannot stand the song and attacks Leeli.)
The Durgans loosed their arrows. Leeli screamed. The furry hulk raced toward her as arrows thunked into its hide. Leeli curled into a ball, waiting for an impact that never came.
She opened her eyes amidst the cries of alarm and saw Kalmar standing between her and the Fang, sword drawn. The Fang was dead, headless and prone. Seconds later it crackled into dust and clumps of fur that lifted gently into the air, along with cheers from the Hollowsfolk.
Leeli wiped her eyes, which were leaking against her will, and hugged her brother. Her heart was troubled, adn all she could see was the same in Kalmar’s eyes. “People are going to get hurt. Because of us.”
“People are going to die because of us,” he said.
Leeli didn’t have time to sort out what she was feeling because Nia wrapped them in a hug. “That was perfect,” she said. “The Hollowsfolk needed to see that. They won’t give you up for anything now.”
That was what Leeli was most afraid of.
September 22, 2015 at 7:25 pm #3644
This is another really sad section. Yet even in the middle of his struggle, Kal is starting to think like a King, even if he doesn’t realize it. He is thinking about how he can best serve and protect others, even in the middle of his own despair. He knows what is in his heart, but only a part of it. He sees the failures and the fear, but he is blind to the good that is growing there.
Kalmar wished Janner could tell him what to do. He knew what he wanted to do. He wanted to run away. What if he woke one day with something worse than henmeat or hogpig in his teeth? His throat tightened and tears moistened his eyes. He looked away so the old woman couldn’t see, but too late.
“Brave lad,” she said, placing a weathered hand on his arm. “There’s no shame in joyful tears. Hollish though I am, your courage today made me want to be Annieran. The Shining Isle is in good hands with you on the throne.”
If only her words were true. She wouldn’t have said that if she knew what was inside him. The tears that dampened his furry cheeks were those of sorrow, not joy. He knew what was in his heart. He remembered with a stab of shame the despair he had felt when he walked into the darkness of the Stone Keeper’s chamber that day on the Phoob Islands. The Shining Isle wasn’t in good hands. No, Kal thought, clenching his jaw, as long as I’m the High King, Anniera is doomed. Doomed to be ruled by a weak boy who was poisoned and dying, while the wolf grew and growled from the shadowy corners of his mind, waiting for the day when it would reign in his heart, a snarling beast crouched on a bright throne, ready to pounce on those who loved him. He was so sorry for who he was and afraid of who he was becoming.
Kalmar hung his head. There was no stopping the coming madness. He was sure of it. If his fate was to slowly lose his mind, then he had to do what he could before it was too late. He had to get to Castle Throg. He had to find Gnag and stop him, or die trying. And he would do it alone. Alone, so he couldn’t hurt the people he loved.
September 23, 2015 at 1:18 pm #3669
A lot of passages lately have caused me agony over not being able to put them on the front page. I need to remember that this thread exists and post them here.
September 23, 2015 at 3:31 pm #3673
Yes, you do. It is a very good thread. And I want to know if you picked the same passages I picked. I haven’t posted nearly all of them because it takes too much time to type them up.
October 7, 2015 at 12:19 am #3789
From chapter 16- The Wounded and the Woeful
Leeli made her way through the dogs, toucing their heads as she passed and thinking of Nugget. Brave Nugget who had leapt into a company of Fangs to protect her.
When she reached Biggin, she sat on the floor beside her Guildmaster. A resurgence of the day’s horror washed over her as night fell on the Hollows, and her soul was dark with sorrow. She saw the same sorrow in the eyes of her dogs, and heard it also in Biggin’s voice. There had been so much death, so much suffering- and yet, in the face of it, so much bright defiance. So many brave men and women whose stories would be in the hearts of the Hollowsfolk for the rest of time, because they had died for the sake of their friends. It did little to ease the present sadness, but she wept- for she knew her tears were medicine- and she realized that Gnag the Nameless’s best efforts to blacken the world would only serve to scatter light like the stars in the heavens.
October 7, 2015 at 12:25 am #3790
From chapter 17- General Fithyhoop’s Scout
“What’s my name?” he asked himself. “My name is Kalmar. My father is Esben Wingfeather, and I am his son, the High King of Anniera.”
Those were the words he had spoken on the Enramere all those months ago as they sailed to the Hollows. Again and again, Nia, Janner, Leeli, and Artham had asked him his name- his true name. Janner had told him stories, and those stories had called him home. Now those stories were like lampposts along the pathway, guiding his course. Whenever he remembered his name he felt more like himself and less like the Fang. So he repeated it into the cold air of the valley floor, “I’m Kalmar. My father was Esben Wingfeather.”
October 7, 2015 at 12:28 am #3791
This one made me laugh.
From chapter 19- What Kalmar Saw
The smell grew stronger and stronger until Kal’s eyes watered and bile rose in his throat. He worried that his nose would be permanently damaged, like the nasal equivalent of staring too long into the sun and going blind.
October 15, 2015 at 10:11 pm #3931
From Maraly’s Name- This is so good, I should probably be talking about it in the What’s in a name thread. Maybe later.
“I’m not a Strander,” she said, looking him in the eye.
“Then I’ll have to make you one,” Claxton barked. “You’ve got my blood in yer veins, girl, and nothin’ can change that. You’ve got my name written in yer bones. Maraly Weaver. You can go and take yer bath and eat yer fancy ffood and giggle with yer friend, but you’ll always know deep down that you were born in the mud of the Strand, along the mud of the Blapp, and once that mud gets on you, nothin’ ever gets it off.”
Claxton seemed to know Maraly’s deepest fear and was speaking it aloud. She had lain awake at night, fighting to believe that Gammon’s fatherly love was real, that the change she had been feeling – the lightening of hear and the almost painful flashes of joy- was more than a silly girlish notion. She thought back to the day of the Battle of Kimera, when Gammon had looked her in the eye and held out his hand and asked if she would let him care for her. Even then something had bubbled up in the dry well of her soul, and over these last months she had felt that spring slowly, slowly fill her. With the coming of the warmer sun she had finally allowed herself to believe that the water was pure enough to drink – but every word Claxton spewed poisoned the water, darkened it, muddied it like the Mighty Blapp, and now she felt herself drowning in it.
“I’m going to give you one last chance, girl. Either Claxton is yer father or Gammon is. Only one of those names is true to your nature. Answer carefully now. Who’s your father?
Maraly shook her head and wept. She wished the Fangs would appear, or more Stranders – she had given up on wishing for Gammon. That sort of thing only happened in storybooks.
“Who’s your father?” Claxton bellowed. He struck her in the face. Stars spun in Maraly’s head and she tasted blood in her mouth. “You’re a Strander down to the bone, girl! Who’s your father? What do you think runs thicker than the blood in your veins?”
“What?” Claxton shouted, clenching her throat tighter.
She blinked through her tears and took a trembling breath then looked him in the eye as fiercely as she could manage. “Love.”
October 30, 2015 at 4:52 pm #4190
I love Oood. I want a story about Oood’s return home, or a story about Troll history, or jump a few generations into the future and have some Wingfeathers go visit the Jungles of Plontst, or something! But I want Oood in it. Trolls can live a long time, I’m sure. I think I need more Troll poetry in my life.
So, from “A Poet of Plontst”-
“Oood family make words.” The troll’s heavy brow furrowed as he struggled to convey his meaning. He held his giant hand out with the stick between his fingers as if he were holding a quill.
“Write? You write?” Janner asked with surprise.
“Write! Yes. Oood write. Oood’s papa write, his mama write.”
“What do you write?” Janner asked.
“Is breaffrst ready?” Kalmar mumbled as he sat up and yawned.
Janner ignored him. “Do you write…stories?”
“No stories. Oood write… pretty words. Words about this.” The pointed at his own chest.
“Words about your heart?” Janner asked. “Poems?”
“Ha! Yes. Oood write poems.”
Janner was speechless. Not only did trolls live in castles, they wrote poetry?
October 30, 2015 at 5:03 pm #4192
From the chapter called “Arundelle”-
“So once someone remembers their true name, they’re cured?” Janner asked.
“I wish it were so. We all forget from time to time, and so we need each other to tell us our stories. Sometimes a story is the only way back from the darkness.”
“You forget, too?” Kalmar asked, interested for the first time in something other than lunch.
“Yes. Even Elder Cadwick forgets. When he does we send pleaders to find him in the reaches of the Blackwood.”
Sometimes it is stories, sometimes songs, sometimes just being told our identity that reminds us who we really are. I’m pretty sure that it is true that we ALL need this at times, whether we have fur, feathers, and leaves or not.
October 31, 2015 at 6:02 am #4228
I love this : )
October 30, 2015 at 5:17 pm #4195
From “The Cloven Queen’s Counsel”-
“No, child. Clovenfast is Anniera. These are your people, this is what is left of your kingdom. Gnag sought to wipe it from Aerwiar, but it has found a home here. It has survived in the shadows of the Blackwood.”
November 13, 2015 at 7:45 pm #4581
In the middle of some very serious and difficult things, this scene makes me laugh.
Thorn shrugged as he took another bite and chewed on it, looking out over the rooftops. “I like you, Leeli. Pa says if we make it out of this, we should marry. I think that would be real good.”
Leeli had no idea what to think or say or do. She wasn’t even sure he had actually said what she thought he had said. Thorn chewed his hogpig jerk, bent over, and scratched Frankle behind the ears. A few of the warriors tried to hide smiles, which made Leeli’s cheeks turn from red to pale white. She gripped her crutch because she felt a wave of dizziness. An onslaught of Bat Fangs would have been preferable to the strange, delightful, and terrifying feeling that crackled all over her skin.
“Frankle’s cute!” she blurted.
“Anyway,” Thorn said, “I’ll see you later.” He strolled away, seemingly unaware that Leeli was gasping for air and most of the soldiers were grinning after him.
November 13, 2015 at 7:54 pm #4582
I also like this part, from chapter 59 of The Warden and the Wolf King.
Knowing that neither of them could see almost unhinged Janner. He had begun to feel like the mountain was pressing down on him, crushing the part of his mind that knew light and shape until he was forever blind. He needed to light the lantern before he went mad. When he let go of Kalmar’s hand he realized he had been squeezing it for a while now. But with nothing to hold onto he lost all sense of place and felt like he was falling. He staggered and caught himself against the wall. It was cold and damp, like the wall of the tunnel under Anklejelly Manor.
“What is it? Why are you laughing?”
“I was just thinking about Anklejelly Manor. The ghost of Brimney Stupe. Aaaaaaaaaaah.” Janner snorted with laughter. “We were so scared that day!”
“The hungry ghost of Brimney Stupe awaits your BONES to swallow,” Kalmar said, and now he was laughing too. “Remember how fast we ran home?”
“You were screaming like a little girl!” Janner wheezed and doubled over. It felt good to laugh, no matter how insane it seemed in their situation. As he leaned against the wall and slid to the floor, he wiped his eyes and saw a million colors. It was a comforting illusion. “That was the most afraid I’d ever been. And now we’re in the Deeps of Throg, and neither of us can see a thing. If the ghost of Brimney Stupe showed up, I’d give him a hug.”
It was, perhaps, the first time laughter had sounded in the Deeps of Throg, and when it had passed the brothers were braver for it.
December 11, 2015 at 6:59 pm #4889
There was so much in this week’s reading- but there were so many spoilers as well! Makes me grateful for this thread 😀
This is probably one of my favorite passages in the whole Saga. This demonstration of the Maker’s love is so beautiful to me. I have yet to actually read the passage and not have chills go up and down my spine.
The light from the Fane of Fire illumined his heart and showed him who he really was: a weak, petty young man. Even in that realization he recognized his selfishness, because he was thinking not of the grace the Maker had shown him– was showing him– but of his own weakness and pettiness. There was no way out.
“What?” Janner said aloud, looking around for the owner of the voice. Someone had spoken, but who? When he tried to remember what the voice sounded like, its quality vanished from memory. Then he realized that, of course, the one who had spoken had also made the world. Janner trembled.
“Yes sir,” Janner whispered. He knew the voice and had always known it. It seemed to come from the Fane– but also from the floor where he sat, and from the sky and the water and the wind and the blood in his veins and the air in his lungs. His heart swelled, and something like a shout rose from his throat, but it came out as a whimper.
“Yes sir,” Janner repeated, and now he was crying. He felt in his heart a braid of pain and delight and longing that made his bones burn and his heart quake. All his attention turned from himself and he yearned for the speaker of those words so desperately that he wished he could die and be born again as a single spoken syllable from his mouth, just to know the pleasure of his presence.
He vividly sensed Leeli’s sweet, gentle breathing and the music that wreathed her dear heart; he saw Kalmar’s woundedness and ached to embrace the boy in the wolf; he even saw his own troubled, selfish soul: the scarred flesh and weary eyes, his conflicted emotions, and he loved the Janner that he saw through the Maker’s eyes. He knew himself as he was known. He saw, and was still.
A great love enveloped him, and he thought of his father’s bearlike embrace, only now he knew those arms were but a shadow of the bright love that beat the world’s heart and held him now, as they always had, with an inescapable, indescribable tenderness.
The voice repeated the words again and again, like a beating heart, until Janner was at last able to obey and to rest, rest, rest. There in the light of the Fane of Fire, Janner Wingfeather encountered– absorbed– an abiding peace that he would never forget all the days of his life.
He was still. And he was loved.
The Maker’s love is truly beautiful, and this passage is such a beautiful reminder of that.
December 12, 2015 at 9:11 pm #4902
This is SO good. I needed to read that tonight. Thanks for posting it.
December 16, 2015 at 8:31 pm #5010
I’m still trying to catch up. There are so many really good sections, but I just can’t spend the time to type them all. This one, from chapter 55 of The Warden and the Wolf King, reminds me that even Leeli, who is clearly far advanced in learning to love, is not yet perfect. Her struggle here may have been with trying to love, or at least not hate, Yurgen, but it also impacted her ability to love Oskar.
Oskar, however, stood in the doorway staring at the floor.
“What is it?” Leeli asked.
“Your Highness,” he said, “there is one song you haven’t played yet.”
Leeli looked away.
“And you know the older the songs are, the more the Fangs seem to hate them.”
Have I not done enough? she wondered. Her lips were blistered, she was exhausted, and she had put herself in danger on the roof every night, but Oskar wanted more. Everyone wanted more.
“And this song, Highness, is very old. And you know it by heart.”
Oskar continued to stare at the floor, one hand on the doorknob and the other nervously scratching his belly. He sighed. “May I ask why?”
“Because I don’t trust them. Especially Yurgen.”
“But the dragons once aided Anniera. They might do so again if only you’ll-”
“I need to practice. Please let me be.” Leeli hated to speak to her old friend that way, but her heart was steaming with emotion and she didn’t know where to put it. “I’m sorry, Mister Reteep, but I’m very tired.”
Leeli held the whistleharp to her lips but didn’t blow.
Just thinking of the song, however, turned the hot emotion in her chest from anger into what it really was all along, from the moment Oskar had mentioned it: fear. Her fingers trembled at the thought of “Yurgen’s Tune.”
December 16, 2015 at 8:39 pm #5011
Another excellent passage from chapter 61- This one has so much packed into it that I could talk about it for quite a while. But I won’t. I will just let you read it yourself.
Rest. That was what he wanted. He was so tired of running, so tired of the constant fear that each day held some new danger, or treachery, or lie. He wanted a good meal, a good book, a little fire in the winter and a little shade in the summer. Could there be some world where such a thing existed?
Even before Gnag rose to power there were wars and skirmishes and threats to peace – Aerwiar was a terribly broken place. HE didn’t have to look far to see it, either. Podo’s missing leg: because he was hunting young sea dragons for money. Artham’s madness: because he had abandoned his brother. Grigory Bunge, the Fangs, the Kimerans who were so treacherous that Gammon had to work in secret. Was every heart so prone to deceit? Was there no one trustworthy in all of Aerwiar?
Sara Cobbler. The name came to him like the strum of a whistleharp.
He remembered her bright eyes in the Fork Factory. He remembered her beauty shining through the soot on her weary face. And he remembered the night he left her, remembered his terror as he drove the carriage through the night. That night, he had done the leaving. He had wanted to go back, but he didn’t. Had sweet Sara cursed him as he was now cursing Kalmar? Had she lain in the dark that night in the coffin and wondered why Janner had sped away?
Janner was as weak as everyone else in this fractured world, and he knew it.
December 24, 2015 at 11:50 am #5180
I almost picked this bit for the weekly excerpt. It would’ve needed some redaction, as it gives away a few spoilers, but it’s so good.
December 16, 2015 at 8:47 pm #5012
Ships and Sharks. Lessons in hope and persistence packaged in a fun little children’s game. This one is from chapter 69.
“You won’t do it! Khrak shouted. “We’ll leave you to rot in that cage!”
“Ah, but that’s where you’re wrong. Ships and Sharks, remember?”
“What does that mean?” Khrak shouted.
“It means there is always a way out, like I told you.” Janner smiled.
“Not always,” Khrak said.
“Not for you,” Janner said. “But we are in the Maker’s keeping. Even if we die trying, death is just another way out. But you? You’ll just turn to dust.”
“You’ll die,” Khrak said. “Just like your father Esben.”
“His death,” Kalmar said, “was glorious. So be it.”
I so love the fact that although he was melded, Esben did NOT turn to dust when he died. He died looking like a beast, but stayed solid like a human. He was real in a way that General Khrak was not, and his death showed the difference.
December 24, 2015 at 11:48 am #5179
I love this, too.
December 17, 2015 at 8:08 pm #5078
I forgot one. I don’t like needing help either, but sometimes it is inevitable. This is from chapter 59.
“We need a torch,” he said, embarrassed by how feeble he sounded. “I have some strips, and we can use one of these bones.”
“I can see fine,” Kal said.
“Well, good for you. I can’t see anything.”
“How much oil do you have?”
“Just the one flask.”
“Keep the bone. We should save the oil for when it’s too dark for me to see.”
“I don’t like this.”
“I’ll help you.”
Janner felt Kal’s hand on his shoulder. He swallowed his pride and took his brother’s furry paw. “Just don’t walk me off a cliff, all right?”
December 17, 2015 at 8:13 pm #5079
From chapter 62.
Janner watched all this with grim fascination. Kalmar had described what had happened in the Phoobs, but to see Gnag’s machinations with his own eyes was another thing altogether. He couldn’t understand why the people were so eager to become monsters. He wanted to stop them somehow, to snap htem out of whatever evil spell had convinced them to give up their names. Children, women, and men of all ages seemed content, happy, even, for their turn to sing the song of the ancient stones and lose themselves for the twisted transformation.
He knew Kalmar had done the same; but he also knew that his brother, and Artham and Esben for that matter, hand not gone willingly- not at first, anyway. They had been broken. They had been worn down by pain and loneliness so that melding seemed the better choice.
How long had Artham and Esben resisted? Months? Years? Janner doubted he would have lasted so long.
December 26, 2015 at 2:55 pm #5212
The Fane of Fire. Fascinating. But I’m still glad we don’t have one, because I although I am the second child in my family, I am not royalty and wouldn’t be allowed to visit it anyway. Technically, Janner shouldn’t have seen it either, but it really wasn’t his choice. But I share his interest, and his longing to explore it more. From Chapter 77 of The Warden and the Wolf King.
The passageway was littered with the stones, little ones and big ones piled against the walls- a million treasures heaped along the path. The passage led off into the distance, ever widening toward what appeared to be a large cavern. Janner hear the sound of running water and glimpsed the green of growing things mingled with the golden stones.
He wanted to explore, to see what lay beyond the entrance, but Gnag, ignoring the cavern in the distance, scooted on his useless legs from wall to wall, running his pale fingers across the stones and cackling with glee.
“Here!” Gnag said, shoving the brick at Janner. “Take this, and bring me up with you.”
“Don’t you want to see what’s up ahead?” Janner asked without taking his eyes from teh cavern. “This- this is where the Maker walked with the First Fellows.”
Gnag caressed the stone. “Such power.”
“But- that could mean that… he’s in there.” it was a frightening thought, but the kind of frightening that made Janner want to see if it was true. He took a step further down the corridor, his flesh prickling with wonder. “I mean- what if it’s true?”
January 7, 2016 at 1:09 pm #5268
In his death, Podo did what Leeli was too afraid to do. Leeli was trying to protect Podo by refusing to call the dragons, but Podo overruled her and did it anyway. Yes, it cost him. But it saved them all.
From TWATWK chapter 81-
Kalmar sniffed and grabbed Janner’s arm. “They’re at the Field of Finley.”
“Who?” Janner asked.
Leeli clutched her whistleharp. “The dragons.”
“Everyone,” Kalmar said.
“It worked,” Leeli said. “He did it.” A smile washed over her face and she looked at her brothers with shining eyes. “Grandpa did it.”
Thunder shook the air. The storm was about to collapse on the bay.
“I’m so confused,” Janner said.
“He called the dragons. Yurgen killed him, but Hulwen- the younger dragon, remember? She must have stayed and fought. I can hear her singing.”
“That doesn’t make any sense. She is a sea dragon, remember?”
“I’m telling you, that’s Hulwen’s voice.”
And speaking of hearing… from chapter 82-
“Wait! Quiet!” Nia said, and the dragons lifted their great heads to listen.
“What is it, Your Highness?” Oskar asked. He sat on the wet grass with the First Book in his lap and peered up at Nia. He heard the melody as the wind burst over the field and his eyes widened. “Is it-”
“Yes!” Nia cried. “It’s Leeli!”
January 7, 2016 at 1:18 pm #5269
This would be a lovely inspiration for another story, don’t you think? (That is a subtle hint to Andrew, but I will accept stories from anyone who wants to write this one for me. I really want to read it.)
From TWATWK, chapter 85-
Oood’s eyes twinkled and he nodded eagerly. “Oood’s mama SO pretty, like a pile of grkkle smeegs.” His face fell again. “Oood miss his mama and papa. Want to go home now.”
“I think that’s a good idea,” Kalmar said. “I’m sure they miss you.”
“Come to Oood’s house in Glagron someday?” Oood asked. “Show you trees and castle and lobe the ocky vabs! Read poems!”
The Wingfeathers laughed and agreed that a visit would be nice.
Oood took a deep breath and looked around at the carnage. “Stay and help?”
“You’ve helped so much already,” Janner said. “You can go home now. Gnag can’t stop you. Tell your people not to smash us if we visit the Jungles of Plontst.”
Oood grew serious and tapped the side of his head. “Good think. Very good think. Trolls smash boys they don’t know.” He held one finger in the air. “No worry! Oood’s papa write poem about boy and wolf boy and GREAT battle. Make trolls everywhere love you.”
January 7, 2016 at 7:35 pm #5272
What a way to come home! I like trying to picture this in my mind.
From TWATWK chapter 92-
The boys stepped out into the bright sun and stood at the rail beside Cadwick and Arundelle. Her leaves had grown greener by the hour, rustling in the sea breeze. Her branches blew back from her face like long strands of silver-green hair.
“I remember it all,” she said. “The cliffs. The white shores. The green hills. Music running out on the wind to greet us.”
“Listen,” Kalmar said.
A low melody rose from the sea and circled around them like a mist. As the harbor came into view, Janner caught glimpses of red and blue, gold and green, sparkling in the cove. The sea dragons whirled and spun over the water. They sang as they danced, just as they had each year below the cliffs at Glipwood- except that now, when they burst from the water, they soared on gilded wings, twisting and whirling in spirals high above the waves, before diving into the sea again.