Thoughtful Thursday: Fantastic Quotes!

The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel KayIt’s time again to share some of our favorite (new or old) quotes from speculative fiction. They can be deep, poignant, witty, hilarious, or otherwise memorable.

You can choose quotes from books you’ve read, or from interviews or blog posts from the authors who write those books.

Give us the quote and the source (book title, link to interview or blog, etc).

Here are quotes that readers mentioned last time we did this. Two are from Guy Gavriel Kay! Click the book cover to read our review.

The deeds of men, as footprints in the desert.
Nothing under the circling moons is fated to last.
Even the sun goes down.


~ The Lions of Al-Rassan by Guy Gavriel Kay

Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay

We will pick our way through the shards of broken objects that folly leaves behind. And some of what breaks will be very beautiful.


~ Under Heaven by Guy Gavriel Kay

Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson

“I walked this land when the T’lan Imass were but children. I have commanded armies a hundred thousand strong. I have spread the fire of my wrath across entire continents, and sat alone upon tall thrones. Do you grasp the meaning of this?”


“Yes,” said Caladan Brood, “you never learn.”


~ Memories of Ice by Steven Erikson

One random commenter wins a book from our stacks!

We’ll try to make this a regular (once/year) column, so as you find new fantastic quotes, you can either leave them here, or wait for next year.

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  1. It is truly amazing!!!
    You put here three of my top fantasy book quotes of all times :). I might have even suggested one or some of them in previous occurrences.
    And it’s not a coincidence that Kay is there twice because he has such a wonderful prose that his works sometimes read like a poem. So let me add another Kay quote (otherwise I was going to add an Abercrombie quote):

    “Branching paths. The turning of days and seasons and years. Life offered you love sometimes, sorrow often. If you were very fortunate, true friendship. Sometimes war came.

    You did what you could to shape your own peace, before you crossed over to the night and left the world behind, as all men did, to be forgotten or remembered, as time or love allowed.” 

    – Guy Gavriel Kay, Under Heaven

  2. John Smith /

    “We shall swim out to that brooding reef in the sea and dive down through black abysses to Cyclopean and many-columned Y’ha-nthlei, and in that lair of the Deep Ones we shall dwell amidst wonder and glory forever.”

    -H.P. Lovecraft, “The Shadow over Innsmouth.”

  3. A good mix of sick burns and haunting poetry. I like it!

    I’m currently reading through the original Conan stories and I have a two running favorites:

    “I live, I burn with life, I love, I slay, I am content.” – QUEEN OF THE BLACK COAST by Robert E. Howard

    “I am respectable,” began Publio.
    “Meaning you’re rich as hell,” snorted Conan – THE HOUR OF THE DRAGON by Robert E. Howard

  4. “The Divine may have created many hells, but I think they pale beside what men create for themselves.”

    City of Stairs
    Robert Jackson Bennett

  5. E.J. Jones /

    These are by no means the only wonderful fantasy quotes I have ever read, but they’re the ones I have on hand.

    “’I’m not a drug salesman. I’m a writer.’
    ‘What makes you think a writer isn’t a drug salesman?’
    ‘I’ll accept that. Guilty as charged.’”
    -Cat’s Cradle, Kurt Vonnegut

    “’Right,’ she said. Cutangle swayed. The tone of voice cut through him like a diamond saw. He could dimly remember being scolded by his mother when he was small; well, this was that voice, only refined and concentrated and edged with little bits of carborundum, a tone of command that would have a corpse standing to attention and could probably have marched it halfway across its cemetery before it remembered it was dead.”
    -Equal Rites, Terry Pratchett

  6. She shifts closer to him. “We don’t get to choose many things. What happens to us, if we live or die, or who we love. But we can choose to admit, sometimes, that things are good. And sometimes, that is enough.

    City of Miracles – Robert Jackson Bennett

  7. This isn’t the one I wanted to put here but I can’t find the wording without looking at my paper books at home so this is second best:

    From Jim Butcher’s Dresden Files, Dead Beat, Book 7:
    “On the whole, we’re a murderous race.
    According to Genesis, it took as few as four people to make the planet too crowded to stand, and the first murder was a fratricide. Genesis says that in a fit of jealous rage, the very first child born to mortal parents, Cain, snapped and popped the first metaphorical cap in another human being. The attack was a bloody, brutal, violent, reprehensible killing. Cain’s brother Abel probably never saw it coming.
    As I opened the door to my apartment, I was filled with a sense of empathic sympathy and intuitive understanding.
    For freaking Cain.”

  8. For the substance of our existence is not in the achievement, but in the method.
    The Way of Kings by Brandon Sanderson

  9. There are so many great quotes, here are some of my favorite ones:

    “Power resides only where men believe it resides. A shadow on the wall, yet shadows can kill.
    And ofttimes a very small man can cast a very large shadow.”

    George. R. R. Martin, A Clash of Kings

    “Never forget what you are, for surely the world will not. Make it your strength. Then it can never be your weakness. Armour yourself in it, and it will never be used to hurt you.”
    ― George R.R. Martin, A Game of Thrones

    “Until a man is twenty-five, he still thinks, every so often, that under the right circumstances he could be the baddest motherfucker in the world. If I moved to a martial-arts monastery in China and studied real hard for ten years. If my family was wiped out by Colombian drug dealers and I swore myself to revenge. If I got a fatal disease, had one year to live, and devoted it to wiping out street crime. If I just dropped out and devoted my life to being bad.”
    ― Neal Stephenson

    “And what is a man? He is someone who rises when life has knocked him
    down. He is someone who raises his fist to heaven when a storm has ruined
    his crop – and then plants again. And again. A man remains unbroken by the
    savage twists of fate.
    ‘That man may never win. But when he sees himself reflected, he can be
    proud of what he sees. For low he may be in the scheme of things: peasant,
    serf, or dispossessed. But he is unconquerable.”
    David Gemmel, Legend

    “Give a man a fire and he’s warm for a day, but set fire to him and he’s warm for the rest of his life.”
    ― Terry Pratchett, Jingo

    “Desire for goodness, Mister Reese, leads to earnestness. Earnestness in turn leads to sanctimonious self-righteousness, which breeds intolerance, upon which harsh judgment quickly follows, yielding dire punishment, inflicting general terror and paranoia, eventually culminating in revolt, leading to chaos, then dissolution, and thus, the end of civilisation.”

    He slowly turned, looked down upon Emancipor.
    “And we are creatures dependent upon civilisation. It is the only environment in which we can thrive.”

    Emancipor frowned.
    “The desire for goodness leads to the end of civilisation?”

    “Precisely, Mister Reese.”

    “But if the principal aim is to achieve good living and health among the populace, what is the harm in that?”

    Bauchelain sighed.

    “Very well, I shall try again. Good living and health, as you say, yielding well-being. But well-being is a contextual notion, a relative notion. Perceived benefits are measured by way of contrast. In any case, the result is smugness, and from that an overwhelming desire to deliver conformity among those perceived as less pure, less fortunate—the unenlightened, if you will. But conformity leads to ennui, and then indifference. From indifference, Mister Reese, dissolution follows as a natural course, and with it, once again, the end of civilisation.”
    Steven Erikson, Bauchelain and Korbal Broach

  10. This is a GREAT idea for a column!

    Elisabeth Wheatley, if you live in the USA or have a US mailing address, you win a book of your choice from our stacks.
    Please contact me (Marion) with your choice and a US address. Happy reading!

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