I saw Byzantium in a dream, and knew that I would die there. That vast city seemed to me a living thing: a great golden lion, or a crested serpent coiled upon a rock, beautiful and deadly. With trembling steps I walked alone to embrace the beast, fear turning my bones to water. I heard no sound save the beating of my own heart and the slow, hissing breath of the creature. As I drew near, the half-lidded eye opened, and the beast awoke. The fearful head rose; the mouth gaped open. A sound like the howl of wind across a winter sky tore the heavens and shook the earth, and a blast of foul breath struck me, withering the very flesh.
I stumbled on, gagging, gasping, unable to resist; for I was compelled by a force beyond my power. I watched in horror as the terrible beat roared. The head swung up and swiftly, swiftly down – like lightening, like the plunge of an eagle upon its prey. I felt the dread jaws close on me as I stood screaming.
– Stephen R. Lawhead, Byzantium
I like this book, and the beginning too, even if it’s guilty of another taboo: never open a book with a dream. I believe that all the conflict a reader needs is contained in the first sentence – and the novel does a masterful job of living up to the promise of that conflict. But others may disagree. So let me know what you think about the opening passage of Stephen R. Lawhead’s Byzantium.
On another note, my temporary shift to posting on Thursdays instead of Wednesdays may become more permanent. I kind of like the new schedule, so I plan to try it out for a while. So join me tihis Thursday for the third post in my series on the Top 5 Elements of a Great Epic!