She came out of the store just in time to see her young son playing on the sidewalk directly in the path of the gray, gaunt man who strode down the center of the walk like a mechanical derelict. For an instant, her heart quailed. Then she jumped forward, gripped her son by the arm, snatched him out of harm’s way.
The man went by without turning his head. As his back moved away from her, she hissed at it, “Go away! Get out of here! You ought to be ashamed!”
Thomas Covenant’s stride went on, as unfaltering as clockwork that had been wound to the hilt for just this purpose. But to himself he responded, Ashamed? Ashamed? His face contorted in a wild grimace. Beware! Outcast unclean!
– Stephen R. Donaldson, Lord Foul’s Bane
Of all the vintage fantasy novels I’ve featured so far, I believe this one comes closest to capturing the elements of a great beginning. But that’s just my opinion. Let me know what you think – how good is the beginning to Lord Foul’s Bane?