10 Most Heartbreaking Quotes in Fantasy

most heartbreaking quotes in fantasyYes, yes, I know, it’s Valentine’s day. A day to celebrate love and romance and everything involving unicorns and rainbows. Regardless, I’m celebrating with a nod toward those books that broke my heart, brought tears to my eyes, and left a permanent imprint on my heart for that. Here are ten of the most heartbreaking quotes in fantasy.

“Every atom of me and every atom of you…We’ll live in birds and flowers and dragonflies and pine trees and in clouds and in those little specks of light you see floating in sunbeams…And when they use our atoms to make new lives, they won’t just be able to take one, they’ll have to take two, one of you and one of me, we’ll be joined so tight…”
~Philip Pullman, The Amber Spyglass

“You know nothing, Jon Snow,” she sighed, dying.
~ George R.R. Martin, A Storm of Swords

“You have a stone in your heart, and some days it’s so heavy there is nothing to be done. ”
~ Patrick Rothfuss, The Wise Man’s Fear

“I wished for her.”
~ Erin Morgenstern, The Night Circus

“Of all the unicorns in the world, she is the only one who knows what regret is – and love.” ~ Peter S. Beagle, The Last Unicorn

“He can sleep anywhere, Jace had said, and he almost looked as if he were sleeping now, in his father’s lap, but Clary knew he wasn’t.”
~ Cassandra Clare, City of Glass

“I can feel his presence here in every stone he has touched, every person he has lifted up, every street and alley and city that he has changed in the few years of his life, because he is the Republic, he is our light, and I love you, I love you, until the day we meet again I will hold you in my heart and protect you there, grieving what we never had, cherishing what we did.”
~ Marie Lu, Champion

“It was the patient, cut-flower sound of a man who is waiting to die.”
~ Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind

“Always.”
~ J.K. Rowling, Harry Potter and the Deathly Hallows

All my tales are true, drawn from life, and a life story is not a tidy thing. It is a half-tamed horse that you seize on the run and ride with knees and teeth clenched, and then you regretfully slip off as gently and safely as you can, always wondering if you could have gone a few metres more.
~ Redemption in Indigo, by Karen Lord

What do you feel are the most heartbreaking quotes in fantasy? Add them to this list in the comments below.

Happy reading,

k.

A Malevolent Sun

winter cityIt was a beautiful winters day. The sky was wide and blue and unmarked by even the smallest trace of a cloud. The sun was warm and glinted off the snow left from the previous day’s storm.  It was the sort of day that couldn’t be denied or put off. One of those rare warm mid-winter days that dragged you bodily from whatever task life had set before you, forced a smile on your lips and laugh in your eyes. It was the sort of day Olivia hated the most.

She huddled in the narrow crack she had claimed as her own and scowled at slashing sunlight muscling its way through the gaping timbers that passed for her walls. Olivia liked the sun as much as the next person during the long lazy days of summer, but in winter, that brilliant yellow face was anything but cheerful. It stared down at her, and those like her, with an intense sort of malice. She could practically hear it chanting from its hook in the sky: you can’t hide forever, little girl.

She hid from that malevolent face as long as she could, shifting her weight, moving an arm, bending a knee, avoiding any touch from those slow-moving beams, imagining if even one touched her it would mean her death that day. But the sun’s chant was right, she couldn’t hide forever, and as the sun climbed high into the sky her grumbling stomach finally forced her out of hiding.

Olivia traveled the rooftops as much as possible before jumping to the tops of the fences and stuck to the fences as long as she had one in front of her, her neck chain jangling as she hopped the gaps in between. The warmth of the day had melted the small mountains of snow the people of Barrowight had spent the previous months of winter piling high, the roadways and pathways of town now buried under feet of the sucking, heavy slush that was all that remained of the snow.

The city was alive with sound. Horses snorted, glad to be out of their stalls and feeling the sun once again on their skins, and their riders shouted and laughed, waving as they passed by friend and acquaintance and even foe – enemies could not remain such on such a glorious day as this! Their movements were smooth and unhurried, their trousers dry where hers clung to her wetly, their feet warm in the protective shell of their magic, where hers quickly became stiff with cold from constant contact with the melting ice and snow. She fingered the gold chain about her neck once again and felt a flare of hatred so deep, so overpowering, she felt as if her body might split right up the middle, spilling her steaming guts out onto the road beneath her feet. She shoved the anger away. She’d not give them the satisfaction of seeing her thus.

Despite her best efforts she was drenched and shivering by the time she made it to the market, but wonder of wonders, the shopkeeps were uncommonly generous this day. They turned a blind eye to her stiff hands and sopping clothes. One even offered her a steaming cloth filled with freshly roasted meats – a delicacy so uncommon for the likes of her she couldn’t recall ever having had it before. It was the warmth of the sun, the release from what had been such a dreary winter, that moved them. They knew nothing of the suffering that golden globe foretold for the Collared among them. And why would they? Why should they?

Despite the generosity of the market, the sun was sinking low in the sky by the time her belly was full. The sun, so full and warm just moments before, pulled its heat back to itself and left the mushy snow and rivers of meltwater below to freeze solid once again. Olivia hurried now. Her clothes stiffened as the moisture within them turned to ice. Her fingers and feet had gone numb long since, but she could feel her joints stiffening now. If she didn’t reach her destination soon she’d never be able to make the climb back to the warm crack beneath an overhanging roof. Her breath steamed in front of her with each exhale and it looked to her like the breath of death snorting just in front of her.

She came around the corner and skittered to a halt. She knew she should hurry, knew the cold would intensify beyond her body’s ability to cope once the last of the sunlight leached from the sky. But instead of moving she felt her mouth gape open, her feet root into the quickly freezing slush. In front of her was an open carriage carrying two women and two children, a young boy and a young girl. The children laughed as they licked at frozen treats within the warm glow of the spelled carriage, their faces flushed with warmth and the excitement of the day. One of the women chuckled as she helped the other one climb into the carriage, both aglow with the magic that held the freezing cold at bay.

She was less than twenty feet away, if any one of them were to look up they would see her. Their daughter, their sister. But would they recognize her? Of course, they would, Olivia chided herself. No matter what custom dictated, mothers would recognize their eldest daughter. The question was whether they would acknowledge that recognition.

Olivia watched as her family, the women who had birthed her, the siblings she had helped raise, vanished into the night. Only after the warmth of their magic had been swallowed in darkness did she realize she had fallen to her knees in the freezing slush. A part of her mind was screaming at her to stand up, to move, to live. But she stayed as she was, staring at that point at which the winter night had swallowed her family, and thought of the malevolent face of the sun on a warm winters day.

The Poison of Woedenwoud is here!

The Poison of Woedenwoud CoverI am excited to announce that book 3 in my Magicfall series, The Poison of Woedenwoud is here! You can find it on Amazon today, both as an ebook or paperback!

Magic is draining from the world, threatening the very existence of its inhabitants. Ling and her companions search desperately for the key to closing the void, but warlocks dog their every step. Forced to flee, they find themselves entangled in the fabled and deadly Woedenwoud and face to face with a forgotten race. Meanwhile, Ling, feeling isolated and afraid, struggles against a rising tide of darkness far more threatening than anything she encountered in the Darkling Sea.

 

 

It’s Almost Here!

Greetings fellow readers! I hope this blog post finds you all doing well this wintery month of January. I am very excited to share the cover for the latest installment of my Magicfall series, The Poison of Woedenwoud. It will be available in print and ebook on February 12th, so mark your calendars!

If you haven’t yet picked up the first two (Really? What is the matter with you? ;)) you can find them both on Amazon, I’ll post the links below. But for now…

 

cover of The Poison of Woedenwoud

 

Magic is draining from the world, threatening the very existence of its inhabitants. Ling and her companions search desperately for the key to closing the void, but warlocks dog their every step. Forced to flee, they find themselves entangled in the fabled and deadly Woedenwoud and face to face with a forgotten race. Meanwhile, Ling, feeling isolated and afraid, struggles against a rising tide of darkness far more threatening than anything she encountered in the Darkling Sea.

 

 

The Poison of Woedenwoud is the third book in a five book serial fantasy series. You can learn more about the first two below!

 

Across the Darkling Sea cover

Magic is forbidden in Brielle, but that never stopped Evelyn. Until Now. Because Evelyn has discovered she is magic, and now she is running for her life. Her only hope is on an island cloaked in shadow, an island of dark magic and even darker beasts. The island warlocks call home.

Evelyn’s friends have turned against her, her own mother tried to kill her, and the place she calls home has banished her. Hidden away in the belly of a riverboat, a stowaway, her journey begins.

Buy it here!

 

 

A Dying Land Cover
Far from home and, with no one she can trust, Ling finds herself caught in the powerful currents of a centuries-long war that threatens the lives of everyone she holds most dear. As she journeys deep into the Colli Terra on the mythical island of Marique, she finds herself faced with a decision: Should she continue her single-minded quest to break the spell that holds her family in thrall? Or should she succumb to the pull of war and join a battle between two races fighting for their very survival?

Buy it here!

 

 

 

 

 

 

The Other Side

CrystalShe pushed her breath out in tight bursts as she scrambled between the house-sized rocks that had, in some past epoch, tumbled from the cliffs above turning the valley floor into a maze of rock and stone. The black sky shone above, its smooth face unmarred by even a single pinprick of light. It was the sort of day she loved.

She moved fast. She’d never been to this section of the narrows before but that mattered little. Her body knew how to climb, jump, squirm, and squeeze so well she barely spared a thought for such things. A fine film of powdered rock and dusk lined her arms, her face, she could feel its grit collected at the sides of her nose and between the teeth she clenched and unclenched as she moved. She could feel the muscles at the bottoms of her cheeks jumping and twitching in response.

She came to a small crack at the base of a tower of stone that otherwise completely blocked her way forward. She crouched low, twisted her body sideways, and slipped through without a thought. Unyielding stone scraped at her fine skin, removing a layer from her left cheek and the knuckles of both hands.

Her people never explored the narrows. It was dangerous, they said. There were… things… that lurked here, they said. There were wild magics that could hold a person in thrall until they wasted away and their bones turned to dust. There was even light, they said.

She’d come, at first, in search of these things. But all she’d found was dirt and stone and a sort of solace she’d never found anywhere else. In the narrows, the only sounds were the wind whistling through tight alleys and cracks of stone, the occasional trill of a canyon wren, and the scuff of her calloused heels on dusty stone. The only rules were those she made up herself, and she’d made up only one so far. There must never be any further rules.

The crack she moved through tightened further, but she could see a vague glowing whiteness ahead, something brilliantly white almost glowing in the cool darkness of the day, and it was close. She took a deep breath and held it briefly before pushing it all out, collapsing her lungs as much as she could. She scrunched down lower, the crack widened a tiny bit down low, and shoved herself through.

She tumbled out into a wide cavern and looked about in surprise. Cobwebs hung in tattered strings in the corners, a layer of dust covered the floor so thickly her bare feet left clearly defined imprints behind. To her surprise there were stone benches scattered about the room, most lying cracked and broken now. The room was old, clearly unused for a long time.

Along the far wall, an expanse of crystal stretched from floor to ceiling and wall to wall, glimmering white in the cool darkness. The expanse of crystal was so thin she could see through it to the other side. And on the other side, a light so brilliantly white she could see little more than vague shapes and shadows.

She held back at first, fear strumming her nerves like instrument strings. Light. The great enemy of her people. Something that robbed them of their sight, that burned their pale skin to deep blistering shades of red, and most terrifyingly of all, housed the others. Those with eyes so dark they could see right through that blinding whiteness, and skin so black even fire couldn’t burn it.

But while the sheer whiteness on the other side made it difficult for her to see details, it did not burn her eyes. She glanced from one side to the other, scanning the room around her. Her vision was as clear as it ever was. The fear plucking at her nerves subsided a little, and excitement began to run in its place. She moved forward a step, the forward momentum of her foot seeming to take an entire month to complete. A second step, a third, and time seemed to both speed up and slow down simultaneously, as if her mind now moved so quickly it felt as if it took an epoch for her body to catch up.

And then she was there, forehead leaning gently against the clear crystal surface, both hands splayed along its smoothness. She narrowed her eyes, willing them to pierce the blinding whiteness and reveal the secrets it conspired to hide. A room, but beautiful and shining where hers was old and in ruins. Colors seemed to cover the walls, colors of a brightness and hue she’d never imagined could exist. She pressed her forehead against the crystal wall, the last of the fear she’d felt at the realization of light vanished, the desire to see those colors, to touch them, overrode everything else.

In the center of the room was something that looked like a sort of sofa. Brown, she thought, maybe wood, maybe stone, but polished to a warm glow in the brightness of the other side and covered with something… fabric maybe. But fabric that danced and cavorted with color and shapes so fine she couldn’t quite make them out through the blinding light.

She stared through the looking glass as the day grew old behind her. Beyond the narrows, the first flickering star made its debut in the lightening sky. At the far edge of the horizon, a soft pink stain formed and grew, slowly stretching long fingers across the sky. As she strained her eyes against the glare of the far side, her own people hurried home as the brightness of night grew around them.

In the narrows, in that small room lost to time, she stared. Stared as the burning bright light on the other side faded into dusk, finer details began to reveal themselves to her thirsting eyes. Brilliantly feathered birds with jeweled eyes cavorted along marble-white walls. A fireplace, mantle of living tree, huddled hungrily on the far side. And in the center, a reclining sofa made of shining tiger eye stone rested at ease, padded by thick layers of feathered pelts in ruby reds, sapphire blues, amethyst purples and smoldering oranges. And atop them, a dark shadow reclined.

With a gasp, she jerked her head back before thrusting it forward once again, clacking her curling horns sharply against the crystal barrier. It was one of them. One of the others. She inhaled sharply and held her breath as its head turned toward her, eyes open wide in surprise. She watched as the figure climbed to its feet, facing her.

The burning whiteness of that other place had faded enough that she could see his eyes glittering like shards of obsidian. His dark skin stood out starkly, breathtakingly beautifully, from the color of the room behind him, and his body rippled as he moved toward her.

The soft pink light of the approaching night had finally made its way through the myriad cracks and valleys of the barrens and filled the room around her with a soft glow. The light in that other place faded quickly now, a cool darkness suffusing what had been a blazing fire of light a short time before.

A strange sort of equilibrium settled over both rooms, as heat seeks the balance of coolness, and wet the balance of dryness, light reached across that crystal boundary in search of balancing darkness. He tilted his head to one side and she could see the curling thickness of one of his spiraling horns, larger, darker, but otherwise so like her own. He lifted a hand then, placing it over hers, his skin black as night, hers as white as the marble lining that far room. A sigh passed through them, through the crystalline barrier, through both her room and that other room, as light and darkness came into balance. She felt her own breath pass from her lips, heard his do the same. She felt his touch, warm and dry and direct. She turned her pale blue eyes to his glittering black ones and they breathed. One moment. Two. An eternity in an instant. And then the balance was broken. The last of the light drained out of his room, the pink glow of her nighttime sun filled hers, and the thin crystalline skin between worlds separated them once again.

Top 10 Favorite Fantasy Quotes

best fantasy quotesAs readers, we all love language and story, and when I run across something particularly profound, or gut-wrenching, world-changing, or just plain unexpected and funny I always capture them for easy reference later. This is one thing I love about the Kindle, it’s so easy to mark my favorite fantasy quotes and to share them, too. I’ve collected an impressive number of these over the years. Here is a selection, from books I’ve read somewhat recently.

“People can do terrible things when they feel safe and powerful.”
~ The Long Way to a Small, Angry Planet, by Becky Chambers

“Of course, you couldn’t stab a stranger in the heart with one of their fence boards, but they sure looked nice.”
~ Wake of Vultures, by Lila Bowen

“If Spells could be cast by pure drama of gesture, she would have been a veritable sorceress.”
~ Sorcerer to the Crown, by Zen Cho

“The things we hold in reverence reflect our nature,” said Fren. “Warlike people worship jealous gods and build their altars of steel. Those who love wealth build their altars of gold. Content people build their altars of love.”
~ The Summer Dragon, by Todd Lockwood

“You know… no matter what you do, people are going to expect you to be someone you’re not. But if you’re clever and lucky and work your butt off, then you get to be surrounded by people who expect you to be the person you wish you were.”
~ All the Birds in the Sky, by Jane Anders

“We lived, as usual, by ignoring. Ignoring isn’t the same as ignorance, you have to work at it.”
~ The Handmaids Tale, by Margaret Atwood

“There are some awful things in the world, it’s true, but there are also some great books.”
~ Among Others, by Jo Walton

“Let’s start with the end of the world, why don’t we?”
~The Fifth Season, by N.K. Jemisin

“I am tired of denying myself what I want for fear of breaking things I cannot fix.”
~The Night Circus, by Erin Morgenstern

“We die a little every day and by degrees we’re reborn into different men, older men in the same clothes, with the same scars.”
~ Mark Lawrence, King of Thorns

What are some of your favorite fantasy quotes? Please, share them in the comments below.

k.

A Stitch in Time Can Cost You More, by Hamilton Kohl

A Stitch in TimeI could always use a little more time and it just so happened that the gentleman seated across the aisle from me wore a rather nice black and gold Movado. I wore a flat gray quartz, well worn and nothing to look at, but it held time to perfection. Only amateurs wore anything with more than a ten-second variance. (Per annum mind you, not some department store model that could lose thirty ticks every month.)

But it wasn’t the old man’s timepiece that caught my eye; he was running a full two minutes fast. How long had the fool been walking around carrying all that extra time?

“Nice watch you have there,” I said, loudly enough to get his attention.

He peered over the top of his paper, unsure if I was addressing him or the clueless skirt and blouse wearing office drone to his right. I swapped my normal wolfish grin for a sheepish smile.

“Your watch-” I said again, and brandished my own plain affair. I tapped the face in case my words were lost over the steady click-clack cadence of the train, “-it’s very sharp.”

His interest piqued, he folded the paper and laid it across his lap. “Not too many young men care to wear a traditional timepiece nowadays.”

“Savages.” I replied, to which he laughed. When he was done I continued to soften him up. “Can I have a look?”

“Be my guest,” he said, and extended his arm across the aisle to me, “but mind the finger prints… please.”

I gave him my best earnest nod. “Of course,” I replied, and took him by the wrist making a show of examining the face. I oohed and aahed at the fine cut of the inlay and the understated elegance of the black leather strap.

I met his eye and held his gaze fast while my thumb swept counter clockwise over the minute hand and I whispered a perfectly timed incantation.

“Sorry, I didn’t catch that last bit,” he prompted, as he sat back in his seat.

I held up my own watch again. “I’m afraid it will be some time before I can afford anything as nice as that.”

He laughed at my pun and added his own: “your ‘time’ will come, young man.”

The brakes squealed and the train swayed as we entered the station. I was prepared to make my exit, but he rose from his seat instead and we exchanged goodbyes.

I looked down at my quartz and smiled. One hundred and twenty seconds stitched in time; enough to hop past a problem or even slide back for a quick do-over.

I glanced over my shoulder as the train began to pull away and nearly jumped out of my seat. He stood outside the window and made a show of checking the time. “Thank you,” he shouted through the glass, “You’ve relieved me of the worst two minutes I’ve had all week. I wouldn’t try using them if I were you though.” A wolfish grin split his face as the platform disappeared from view.

~ The End ~

 

As a husband and father of two, Hamilton Kohl frequently finds himself in need of a couple additional minutes on most days. He writes from his cubicle in the scant seconds when his corporate overlords aren’t looking over his shoulder. He hasn’t owned a watch in years.

Four Fantastical Fire Pits for Fall

Last night I harvested the last of the corn from the garden. In the mountains, the leaves of the Aspens are taking on a shimmering golden glow. Like it or not, fall is in the air, and that means fire pit season is upon us!

Of course, you can light a fire in any old ring of stone, but why settle for the ho hum when you can have a fantastical fire pit instead? I scoured Pinterest and the interwebs for some of the best, and these were my favorites.

Dragon Fire Pit

 

 

The folks at the Fire Pit Gallery sell this beauty. Seriously, what goes together better than dragons and fire?  This is an original piece of art by Melissa Crisp – each fire pit is hand cut and numbered, and comes with a lifetime warranty.

 

 

 

 

The One Ring Fire Pit

 

Homecrux.com took the idea of a fire ring to an entirely new level with this gorgeous fantastical fire pit. The One Ring. In your backyard. You can even cook some hot dogs over the top of it, though I’m not sure I’d recommend such a thing. 😉

 

 

fantastical fire pit - witch kind of angmar fire pit

 

 

 

Continuing the Lord of the Rings trend is this Witch Kind of Angmar fire pit by the fine folks over at Burned by Design. I love the rough design of this fantastical fire pit, the heavy seams, the chain base… what a gorgeous pit!

 

 

 

fantastical fire pit - Phoenix Fire Pit

 

 

The Fire Pit Gallery does it again with this Phoenix Rising fire pit. I love the look of the flames licking through this Phoenix! Absolutely gorgeous! Much like the dragon above, this is a custom piece of art designed by Melissa Crisp. I adore her work, can you tell?

 

 

 

Do you have a fantasy themed fire pit you love? Share it in the comments!

 

Divorce is About Power – Even in Fantasy Literature

divorce is about power - tornadoDisclosure: This post contains affiliate links.

A few weeks back Tor.com published an article written by Anise K. Strong called Beyond Happily Ever After Divorce Should be an Option in Fantasy Fiction. It was an excellent article, and it got me thinking about power, about who has it and who doesn’t, and how this is depicted and communicated in story. At its core, divorce is about power, and as such, is well worth consideration when building a world.

At the same time, patriarchy and sexism have actual societal consequences; you cannot just create a world where women can become fighters and everyone wears a magic birth control necklace and expect that nothing else will change.

The question of who has power and who doesn’t in the world you are building has a profound impact on the characters that move through it. Battle hardened women in control of their own reproductive fates are not likely to tolerate a governing system that treats them as second class citizens or attempts to control who they can have sex with. Abusive partners might think twice before battering a woman that is just as gifted with a sword as he is. Raping and pillaging takes a decided turn when those you want to rape and pillage fight back with equal vigor and strength, either physically or by turning the political or economic might of a nation against you for your transgressions.

There is no shortage of discussion these days about diversity in fantasy, and even in the realms of epic and high fantasy, the tides are changing in response. We see a lot of kick-ass women and people of varying races these days. But we’re not seeing a lot of divorces to go along with these changes, and we should be.

Anise K. Strong has a new book out called Prostitutes and Matrons in the Roman World. (Affiliate Link, see below.) It looks like an excellent reference book for anyone looking to bring additional dimension to their writing. As well, of course, as for anyone interested in Roman history!

I frequently use folklore, mythology, and history as inspiration for my books. My book shelves are lined with texts such as this one, so I have no reservation about recommending this book. And YES, this is an Amazon affiliate link. If you buy using this link I get some pie money. 🙂

 

 

 

A Dying Land – Cover Reveal!

A Dying Land CoverIt’s hard to believe, that A Dying Land is almost here, and I’m so excited to share the cover and blurb with you today!

A Dying Land is the second book in an epic fantasy/sword and sorcery serial series I’m currently working on. Each book is about 150 pages long, and a new book is released every January and June. It follows the trials and terrors of Ling, a young woman who discovers she’s actually a changeling.

She begins her journey in Across the Darkling Sea intent on finding the warlock that cursed her family and convincing him to break the curse. But she soon finds out there is much more going on than she ever could have imagined.

In A Dying Land Ling soon find herself embroiled in a centuries-long war between a species of magical beings called the Mari and the warlocks. She feels her original quest, to break the curse and restore Evelyn’s life, slipping from her fingers. How do you choose between saving those you love and saving… everyone else?

Evelyn always believed that warlocks and monsters were nothing more than fairy tales used by tired parents to scare their kids into staying in bed at night. The truth is far more terrifying.

Far from home and, with no one she can trust, Ling finds herself caught in the powerful currents of a centuries-long war that threatens the lives of everyone she holds most dear. As she journeys deep into the Colli Terra on the mythical island of Marique, she finds herself faced with a decision: Should she continue her single-minded quest to break the spell that holds her family in thrall? Or should she succumb to the pull of war and join a battle between two races fighting for their very survival?

I am currently looking to build a list of advanced readers for A Dying Land. If you are interested in getting an advanced eCopy of this book in exchange for an honest review, please email me at k @ kferrin.com.

For more adventures, please check out my currently stand-alone novel Magicless as well!