I posted a while back about first lines. This time, I’m just going to talk about favorite lines/quotes from books. They’re all my favorites for various reasons. Some encompass the entire series quite well, others just ring so pure and true I can’t deny them, regardless of context. Some of them are just so popular that they can’t be ignored. I hope you enjoy, and leave your favorites in the comments. Be warned of mild spoilers for everything. I’ve included the covers for each book before the quote, so you may want to skim past one if you haven’t read the book/series yet.
There’s two lines from The Hunger Games trilogy that I want to highlight and talk about, though I tried to keep it down to 1 per book/series.
“I volunteer! I volunteer as tribute!”
This is the line where all of us were hooked, I think. There is little as moving or as heroic as sacrificing yourself for someone else, and when Katniss volunteers… Well, Leevy (Effie in the movie, I think) had it right when she spoke up, saying it was the moment when Katniss truly moved her. It’s a powerful moment, and one that kicks off the entire trilogy, in its own way.
It’s also become, well, synonymous for volunteering for things. Last year, in one of my classes, a student asked for volunteers for his presentation, and another student and I, in perfect sync, without any planning (we didn’t even know each-other), said “I volunteer as tribute.” It was awesome. I’ve also heard stories of people putting Prim’s name of cups of coffee, and when her name is called, volunteering instead when they go to get their coffee. It’s become a very widespread quote that most anyone recognizes.
“May the odds be ever in your favor.”
This one is the epitome of what’s wrong with the capitol, why all of the districts hate it, and why they really want to rebel. The citizens of the capitol are so pampered, so removed from the actual games and the horror of it all, so unaware of what really is going on in the districts. It’s also, rightly so, one of the phrases that the citizens of the districts use to mock the capitol citizens and their accents. I think its repeated use throughout the series really drives home the distinctions, the reasons for the rebellion.
This one is one of two first lines in the post.
I hope you’re reading this, Mark.
This is literally the only time I’ve bought a book based on the first line. It’s just too perfect. (The books themselves were pretty good, though the last one was… Bleh.)
While I have most of the first book memorized, and there are plenty of amazing quotes about friendship and family and the things that truly matter in life, the one that always stuck with me is…
“You could have gotten us killed, or worse, expelled!”
This quote is just so great. It encompasses Hermione’s character so fully and perfectly, her love of school, her rigidity with the rules… It’s just too funny, and yet so true, that I had to include it. And it gives her a great place to grow from, as she realizes through the series that some rules are meant to be broken, and what friends and school are really worth.
This one… I don’t know. It’s not an incredibly powerful quote, either in or out of context, with relation to Kvothe’s tale, but it struck me the first time I read it.
“In some ways, this is where the story begins.”
In my book, US paperback, this quote appears on page 125. No, not page 12, or even 25, but page 125. This was the moment when I realized that I had been reading the book for 125 pages straight, and heck, maybe the story really hadn’t begun yet, but I didn’t care. It’s daring of an author to put something like this that far into their book. Some books are half over by this point. But Rothfuss is letting you know he’s just getting started, and that you’re really, truly, in for an epic undertaking, and it will be amazing.
And speaking of epic, it doesn’t get much more epic than the Wheel of Time. (Though I really do need to read the Malazan series…)
The Wheel of Time turns, and Ages come and pass, leaving memories that become legend. Legend fades to myth, and even myth is long forgotten when the Age that gave it birth comes again. In one Age, called the Third Age by some, an Age yet to come, an Age long past, a wind rose in the Mountains of Mist. The wind was not the beginning. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was a beginning.
This quote (with variations on the location of the wind) open every book in the series. It’s a thread that runs throughout, the idea of an ever turning wheel, of things forever repeating themselves, and it is epic. It also fits perfectly with the final lines of the final book, giving a rare and beautiful symmetry to the series that I don’t see very often.
I could quote the whole book–or movie–and it wouldn’t be enough. It’s the most quotable thing I’ve ever seen, and I had a hard time just picking one quote. But, well, here we go.
“Hello. My name is Inigo Montoya. You killed my father. Prepare to die.”
Yeah, that line. It’s what drives Inigo through the entire movie, offsetting the love story with one of revenge. I’ve always found his story perhaps even more moving, though I’m not sure why. But I love that final duel, the way he doesn’t give up, the way he keeps repeating this one line until he is triumphant. I could go on, but then I would end up quoting (and rewatching) the entire movie, then reading the book, and I have schoolwork to get done…
This book is the definition and, according to some, the foundation of epic fantasy. I had to include it, and since I couldn’t narrow it down to just one, here’s my two favorite quotes from the book:
“Come, Mr. Frodo! I can’t carry it for you, but I can carry you and it as well.”
Anyone who tries to deny that Samwise Gamgee is the true hero of The Lord of the Rings is lying to themselves, and no line shows it better than this one. He’s followed his master to the ends of middle earth, and he knows his master is being consumed by the ring. He knows he’s not coming home. He knows he can’t take the ring for himself. So what does he do? He finds a way to help anyway, to make sure the ring truly is destroyed.
“I am glad that you are here with me. Here at the end of all things, Sam.”
This one falls firmly into the “This. Is. Epic.” category. And after some 900+ pages of epicness, it’s a well earned line. I feel like those who quote it often diminish it–they use it for their own small endeavors, which they’re glad to have finished, but nothing can compare to the epicness of the original journey across middle earth, undertaken by two small, brave hobbits.
Let’s take a moment for one last funny line before we get into the ones that will kill you.
“Well, when the fear of death seizes you–when the dark thoughts come–you stare the darkness right back, and you tell it, ‘I will not listen to you, for I am infinite Batmans.'”
My first time through this novella, I was listening to the audiobook. This line, and the build-up, where one man is trying to help another confront his mortality and possible impending death, got me perfectly. I literally fell over, laughing, and couldn’t get up for about five minutes. (I’m not joking. I was walking around, listening, while my dinner was cooking, and then this. I fell over and didn’t get up until the food was done. It was just too perfect.)
Warning: This one and the last, especially the explanations, have HUGE spoilers. Read at your own risk. You’re fine for this one if you’ve read through The Hero of Ages, and the last one if you’ve read through A Storm of Swords in Game of Thrones (Or seen the 3rd season of the show.)
I am, unfortunately, the Hero of Ages.
Best use of “unfortunately” ever. This line, which comes from the first epigraph of the third book in the trilogy, but doesn’t make sense until it’s repeat at the end, well… It’s just such a perfect summation of everything, Sazed especially. It’s so perfectly him, and so emotionally powerful… I still can’t read it without tearing up a little bit.
A Storm of Swords is one of the most amazing books I’ve ever read, and the second half of the book packs more gutpunches than any other I’ve ever read, except maybe Mistborn. And it’s a close competition. There’s too many incredibly powerful moments to list, but I’ll go with…
“Jaime Lannister sends his regards.”
Yeah, I went there. The Red Wedding. The point where probably 80% of the people reading threw their books across the room, and maybe half of them didn’t pick them up again. The point where you really, truly, realize that nobody is safe. Ever. It’s so perfectly executed, and so… Amazingly horrible. I love it.
So, what are your favorites?