TCWT September Blog Chain

“What are your favorite book beginnings and/or endings?”

I think quite a lot of pressure is put on authors these days when it comes to the beginnings and endings for their books.
The beginning has to be exciting, and immediately grab the readers (why do people have such short attention spans these days? I don’t want to throw my MC in a well in the first chapter…) and the ending has to be satisfying, preferably with very little bloodshed from the main characters (I wonder why they want that…)

So today, I’m supposed to share with you some of my favorite beginnings and endings.

I like nice little simple beginnings that give us a sense of the character’s life and personality before the adventure finds them, and makes us smile.

So of course, top of the list, my number one favorite beginnings are from the Hobbit and The Lord of the Rings.
I love the simple beauty of shire life that is shown; the descriptions of Baggends and Bilbo and Frodo’s quiet life before Gandalf arrives and whisks them away on daring quest to defeat a dragon or a dark lord.
I love starting a story right there, with the quiet life of the hero.

“In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit”

Nothing better.

There are, however, some close seconds.

King of Attolia: King of Attolia starts with a wedding feast of a queen and her new king. It is clear from the start that there is a lot of suppressed rage at the marriage. Two months after the wedding, in the first chapter of the story, a common solider slugs the king.

Pride and Prejudice: “It is a fact universally acknowledged that a young man in possession of a good fortune must be in want of a wife.”

Jane Eyre: The beginning of Jane Eyre is probably one of the most depressing things ever, only surpassed by Oliver Twist. Three cousins picking on a lesser cousin? And not just teasing, but going at her with fists? How depressing.
Odd I like it… but I do. I like these little stories that start in the depths of sorrow, but at the end the mistreated figure rises above it.

Little Princess: Seeing a trend yet? This story starts with a carriage carrying the most loving father and daughter known to literature to the place where they will be separated at last. I love the descriptions of the day, and the school, and Miss Minchin because they are all very simple and childlike, describing them as Sarah would see them.

Now, I’d better go onto endings.

My top favorite ending of all time isn’t the actual ending of the book, but the end of a character, the end of the war, and the beginning of the end of the book.
In Inheritance by Christopher Paolini, I came across one of the greatest things ever.
A villain dying from enlightenment.
Galbatorix isn’t redeemed, or killed by the sword. He dies when his mind’s eye is open and he sees every dark deed he’s done, and feels the overwhelming sorrow and pain of his victims… he dies from knowledge. With every dark deed he had done in life, he killed himself.

Now for the runner ups.

The King of Attolia: Oh yeah, it’s here 🙂 I love this book, seriously. After all the problems are resolved, the greatest thing happens in the end. The King becomes King. The royal guard never really believed in him (remember me saying a soldier slugged the kind?). They treated him as they would a royal (except that one time..), but they didn’t look at him as a king. In the end, Eugendides truly becomes King of Attolia, earning all of the guards’ respect. It is an amazing scene.

Allegiant: Yes, I liked this one. Heartbreaking, of course! But satisfying, mostly. I won’t give major spoilers, but I’d say the end displays what it truly means to love one’s family, and to forgive. If it had done so with slightly less depression or heartbreak, it might have been better. However, I think it was better then most people claim.

Little Princess: Of course! How can I not like the end? It is so sweet, and happy… Sarah is taken away from the nasty school, and Becky goes with her, and even the little homeless girl from that one street has a home. I love it 🙂

And those are it. Those are probably my favorite beginning sand endings.
Some of them take a bit long to get to any action, some start straight out. Some may start with someone confined to their quarters, while others outside of a hole in a ground.

However they start, they are amazing stories.

They got listed here, didn’t they? 😉

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  1. Yes, Pride and Prejudice. I’ll probably include that in my post. I didn’t know Inheritance ended like that, since I’ve only read the first INHERITANCE SPOILERS but that’s a really cool (not that I’m cruel but – you know what I mean?) way to terminate a villain. END OF SPOILERS

    1. Sorry for any slight spoilers then. Honestly, i kept the description mild and, for the most part, spoiler free. The how and what and when of it all I won’t mention, in case you get to read it 🙂
      And I agree. Certainly unique, and I like to think the very definition of poetic justice.

  2. Really great choices! I totally agree with the Hobbit and LOTR; in fact, I nearly put them on my list too. And King of Attolia sounds like it’s right up my alley; it’s definitely on my to-read list.

    1. If someone walked up to me and told me my book’s beginning stirred in them the same feelings that the beginnings of The Hobbit and the Lord of the Rings did, I would A) Not believe them 🙂 and B) Die of happiness anyway. 🙂
      The King of Attolia is an excellent book! I hope you get the opportunity to read it 🙂

  3. I love the beginning to The Hobbit. It’s not necessarily because I love The Hobbit, per se, but because I love to hear my dad read it. Once we paused a movie while my mom had to go somewhere, and he spent half an hour reading to me. Middle-aged guy and his 16-year-old kid, sitting and reading…

    Yeah, it was awesome.

    Your other choices are excellent too, but that one’s the one with the memory. 🙂

  4. Cool post. I confess I didn’t read the section on endings for books, but for the books I have read, I certainly agree with you.

    I like to have my attention grabbed at the start, but it doesn’t have to be by having the main character thrown down a well. For example Gary Schmidt’s books, *The Wednesday Wars* and *Okay for Now*, there isn’t a major event that happens at the beginning, but I’m really hooked by the voice of the narrating character.

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