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20 Favorite First Lines in Books

Favorite First Lines 2

First lines are magical. While a bad or mediocre first line won’t make or break a story, a great first line can absolutely propel it into greatness. A great first line will immediately attract a reader, will make them laugh in delight or quirk an eyebrow in curiosity or sigh in awe. I love the potential of first lines, and the way they can entirely capture a story’s tone and tenor in a single sentence.

A few weeks ago there was a Top 5 Tuesday topic about first lines, and because I’m always late to these parties, I’m only doing this now, and I’m doing 20 first lines, because I can’t choose. I’ve read 17/20 of the books listed below; the remaining three include one I DNF’d (sad, given it’s one of my favorite first lines ever) and two I still intend to read.

So, in absolutely no order whatsoever because ranking would have driven me insane, enjoy!


Uprooted

uprooted

“OUR DRAGON DOESN’T EAT THE GIRLS HE TAKES, NO MATTER WHAT STORIES THEY TELL OUTSIDE OUR VALLEY.”

Gideon the Ninth

gideon the ninth

“IN THE MYRIAD YEAR OF OUR LORD – THE TEN THOUSANDTH YEAR OF THE KING UNDYING, THE KINDLY PRINCE OF DEATH! – GIDEON NAV PACKED HER SWORD, HER SHOES, AND HER DIRTY MAGAZINES, AND SHE ESCAPED FROM THE HOUSE OF THE NINTH.”

Strange the Dreamer

strange the dreamer

“ON THE SECOND SABBAT OF TWELFTHMOON, IN THE CITY OF WEEP, A GIRL FELL FROM THE SKY.”

Pride and Prejudice

michael o mara classics

“IT IS A TRUTH UNIVERSALLY ACKNOWLEDGED, THAT A SINGLE MAN IN POSSESSION OF A GOOD FORTUNE, MUST BE IN WANT OF A WIFE.”

The Color Purple

the color purple

“YOU BETTER NOT NEVER TELL NOBODY BUT GOD.”

The Lies of Locke Lamora

the lies of locke lamora

“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.”

A Darker Shade of Magic

A Darker Shade final for Irene

“KELL WORE A VERY PECULIAR COAT. IT HAD NEITHER ONE SIDE, WHICH WOULD BE CONVENTIONAL, NOR TWO, WHICH WOULD BE UNEXPECTED, BUT SEVERAL, WHICH WAS, OF COURSE, IMPOSSIBLE.”

Red Sister

red sister

“IT IS IMPORTANT, WHEN KILLING A NUN, TO ENSURE THAT YOU BRING AN ARMY OF SUFFICIENT SIZE. FOR SISTER THORN OF THE SWEET MERCY CONVENT, LANO TACSIS BROUGHT TWO HUNDRED MEN.”

The Heart’s Invisible Furies

heart's invisible furies

“LONG BEFORE WE DISCOVERED THAT HE HAD FATHERED TWO CHILDREN BY TWO DIFFERENT WOMEN, ONE IN DIMOLEAGUE AND ONE IN CLONAKILTY, FATHER JAMES MONROE STOOD ON THE ALTAR OF THE CHURCH OF OUR LADY, STAR OF THE SEA, IN THE PARISH OF GOLEEN, WEST CORK, AND DENOUNCED MY MOTHER AS A WHORE.”

Simon vs the Homo Sapiens Agenda

simon vs the homo sapiens agenda

“IT’S A WEIRDLY SUBTLE CONVERSATION. I ALMOST DON’T NOTICE I’M BEING BLACKMAILED.”

Ninth House

ninth house

“BY THE TIME ALEX MANAGED TO GET THE BLOOD OUT OF HER GOOD WOOL COAT, IT WAS TOO WARM TO WEAR IT.”

The Crimson Petal and the White

crimson petal and the white

“WATCH YOUR STEP. KEEP YOUR WITS ABOUT YOU; YOU WILL NEED THEM. THIS CITY I AM BRINGING YOU TO IS VAST AND INTRICATE, AND YOU HAVE NOT BEEN HERE BEFORE.”

When We Were Magic

when we were magic

“I DIDN’T MEAN TO KILL JOSH HARPER. REALLY, I DIDN’T. IT’S JUST THAT I WAS NERVOUS, AND CONDOMS ARE MORE COMPLICATED THAN I WAS EXPECTING, AND ONE THING LED TO ANOTHER AND – WELL. NOW THERE’S BLOOD EVERYWHERE AND HE’S DEAD.”

A Memory Called Empire

a memory called empire

“IN TEIXCALAAN, THESE THINGS ARE CEASELESS: STAR-CHARTS AND DISEMBARKEMENTS.”

A Cosmology of Monsters

a cosmology of monsters

“I STARTED COLLECTING MY OLDER SISTER EUNICE’S SUICIDE NOTES WHEN I WAS SEVEN YEARS OLD.”

Gods of Jade and Shadow

gods of jade and shadow

“SOME PEOPLE ARE BORN UNDER A LUCKY STAR, WHILE OTHERS HAVE THEIR MISFORTUNE TELEGRAPHED BY THE POSITION OF THE PLANETS. CASIOPEA TUN, NAMED AFTER A CONSTELLATION, WAS BORN UNDER THE MOST ROTTEN STAR IMAGINABLE IN THE FIRMAMENT.”

Vengeful

vengeful

“THE NIGHT MARCELLA DIED, SHE MADE HER HUSBAND’S FAVORITE DINNER.”

Everything I Never Told You

everything i never told you

“LYDIA IS DEAD. BUT THEY DON’T KNOW THIS YET.”

The Secret History

the secret history

“THE SNOW IN THE MOUNTAINS WAS MELTING AND BUNNY HAD BEEN DEAD FOR SEVERAL WEEKS BEFORE WE UNDERSTOOD THE GRAVITY OF OUR SITUATION.”

God’s War

god's war

“NYX SOLD HER WOMB SOMEWHERE BETWEEN PUNJAI AND FALEEN, ON THE EDGE OF THE DESERT.”

3 thoughts on “20 Favorite First Lines in Books

  1. Ah, these are great! Ninth House and The Heart’s Invisible Furies have been particular favorites of mine (from what I’ve read), and I’m so curious about When We Were Magic now, that’s a fantastic opening!

    Liked by 1 person

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