Thursday, August 24, 2006
Old Beginnings 7
Fantasy books today. Science fiction another day. Do you want to read more, or is it time to pick up a different book? Sources posted at the bottom.
1. Kahlan stood quietly in the shadows, watching, as evil knocked softly on the door. Huddled under the small overhang, off to the side, she hoped that no one would answer that knock. As much as she would like to spend the night in out of the rain, she didn't want trouble to visit innocent people. She knew, though, that she had no say in the matter.
The light of a single lantern flickered weakly through the slender windows to either side of the door, reflecting a pale, shimmering glow off the wet floor of the portico. The sign overhead, hung by two iron rings, grated and squealed each time it swung back and forth in the wind-borne rain. Kahlan was able to make out the spectral white shape of a horse painted on the dark, wet sign. The light from the windows wasn't enough to enable her to read the name, but because the other three women with her had talked of little else for days, Kahlan knew that the name would be the White Horse Inn.
2. At the height of her singing career, which some will say came up to Billie Holiday’s rumpled ankle socks, Echo’s voice was sweet breath through a straw, a straw poked up among swamp water reeds, as predators cruised the surface; a high-yellow voice that matched her tightly stretched teenaged skin, but not her short white hair, and most certainly not those pale gray eyes, startled and ready to bolt, eyes that did not belong in any human face.
King Z and Lady Juno first saw her in the Delphi, a photo negative wandering among the zydeco musicians on a board-and-cinder-block stage. At first they couldn’t hear her; then barely could; and then Z surprised himself when he raised a hand to silence the two thugs arguing about the best place for a manicure and a blow job. The place went silent, all six odds-and-ends tables with their mismatched chairs, and their clueless tourists who knew only that they felt a hard hand gripping their hearts, with just the implication of a squeeze.
3. Todd adjusted his leather power seat and smiled. Now, this was the good life -- driving along the California coast, road stretching empty before him, cruise control set at fifty, climate control at sixty-eight, Brazilian coffee keeping warm in its heated cup-holder. Some might say it'd be even better to be the guy lounging in the back seat instead of his driver, but Todd liked being where he was. Better to be the bodyguard than the guy who needed one.
His predecessor, Russ, had been the more ambitious type, which may explain why Russ had been missing for two months. Odds around the office water-cooler were split fifty-fifty between those who assumed Kristof Nast had finally tired of his bodyguard's insubordination and those who thought Russ had fallen victim to Todd's own ambitions. Bullshit, of course. Not that Todd wouldn't have killed to get this job, but Russ was a Ferratus. Todd wouldn't even know how to kill him.
4. Lessa woke, cold. Cold with more than the chill of the everlastingly clammy stone walls. Cold with the prescience of a danger stronger than the one ten full Turns ago that had then sent her, whimpering with terror, to hide in the watch-wher's odorous lair. Rigid with concentration, Lessa lay in the straw of the redolent cheeseroom she shared as sleeping quarters with the other kitchen drudges.
There was an urgency in the ominous portent unlike any other forewarning. She touched the awareness of the watch-wher, slithering on its rounds in the courtyard. It circled at the choke limit of its chain. It was restless, but oblivious to anything unusual in the predawn darkness.
Lessa curled into a tight knot of bones, hugging herself to ease the strain across her tense shoulders. Then, forcing herself to relax, muscle by muscle, joint by joint, she tried to feel what subtle menace it might be that could rouse her, yet not distress the sensitive watch-wher.
5. The villagers of Little Hangleton still called it "the Riddle House," even though it had been many years since the Riddle family had lived there. It stood on a hill overlooking the village, some of its windows boarded, tiles missing from its roof, and ivy spreading unchecked over its face. Once a fine-looking manor, and easily the largest and grandest building for miles around, the Riddle House was now damp, derelict, and unoccupied.
The Little Hangletons all agreed that the old house was "creepy." Half a century ago, something strange and horrible had happened there, something that the older inhabitants of the village still liked to discuss when topics for gossip were scarce. The story had been picked over so many times, and had been embroidered in so many places, that nobody was quite sure what the truth was anymore. Every version of the tale, however, started in the same place: Fifty years before, at daybreak on a fine summer's morning, when the Riddle House had still been well kept and impressive, a maid had entered the drawing room to find all three Riddles dead.
Old Beginnings 7
1. Phantom....Terry Goodkind
2. Echo and Narcissus....Mark Siegel
3. Dime Store Magic....Kelley Armstrong
4. Dragonflight....Anne McCaffrey
5. Harry Potter and the Goblet of Fire....J.K. Rowling