Monday, August 27, 2012

“Beginning” of the Week #28

For my twenty-eighth “Beginning” of the Week, I’m going back to one of my all-time favorite authors, Bernard Cornwell. Here is the opening passage of The Winter King, the first book in The Warlord Chronicles, his fascinating take on the Arthurian legend.  

Once upon a time, in a land that was called Britain, these things happened. Bishop Sansum, whom God must bless above all the saints living and dead, says these memories should be cast into the bottomless pit with all the other filth of fallen mankind, for these are the tales of the last days before the great darkness descended on the light of our Lord Jesus Christ. These are the tales of the land we call Lloegyr, which means the Lost Lands, the country that was once ours but which our enemies now call England. These are the tales of Arthur, the Warlord, the King that Never Was, the Enemy of God and, may the living Christ and Bishop Sansum forgive me, the best man I ever knew. How I have wept for Arthur.
– Bernard Cornwell, The Winter King

I think this beginning is brilliant. It hints of conflict from the second sentence on, and the voice of its narrator – someone who knew and now weeps for Arthur – is instantly interesting. The writing also sets the tone superbly for the story to come and immediately makes you want to read more. But enough of my opinions, let me know what you think – is this opening one of the great beginnings?

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