Joe Abercrombie's Best Served Cold topped my best fantasy reads in 2009 (review will follow soon). I loved every bit of it, so I thought it would be good to extract the quotes that add such an epic air to this book. Here are the ones that I particularly enjoyed reading:
"Good steel bends, but never breaks. Good steel stays always sharp and ready. Good steel feels no pain, no pity, and above all, no remorse"
"The dead can forgive. The dead can be forgiven. The rest of us have better things to do."
"A strange group she'd gathered, surely, but when you have a half-mad plan you need men at least half-mad to see it through."
"It was just like the Dogman had told him. Once your hands are bloody, it ain't so easy to get'em clean."
"Right y'are! I must be the stupidest bastard in the Circle of the World, er? It's a wonder I can hold my own shit in without paying mind to my arse every minute."
"Death was death, same for everyone. The Great Leveller, the hillmen called it. Lords and beggars made equal."
"You have to take what you can while you still have breath. The earth holds no rewards but darkness."
"All your life spent getting ready for the next thing. I climbed a lot of hills now. I crossed a lot of rivers. Crossed the sea even, left everything I knew and came to Styria. But there I was, waiting for me at the docks when I got off the boat, same man, same life. Next valley ain't no different from this one. No better anyway. Reckon I've learned ... just to stick in the place I'm at. Just to be the man I am."
"War killed some soldiers, sure, but it left the rest with money, and songs to sing, and a fire to sit around. It killed a lot more farmers, and left the rest with nought but ashes."
Shivers & Friendly
"What do the dice say?"
"Dice say nothing. They are dice."
"Why roll'em, then?"
"They are dice. What else would I do with them?"
"A man sleeps through most of his life, even when awake. You get so little time, yet still you spend it utterly oblivious. Angry, frustrated, fixated on meaningless nothings. That drawer does not close flush with the front of my desk. What cards does my opponent hold, and how much money can I win from him? I wish I were taller. What will I have for dinner, for I am not fond of parsnips? It takes a moment like this to jerk us to our senses, to draw our eyes from the mud to the heavens, to root our attention in the present. Now you realise how precious is each moment. That is my gift to you."
"Often, the last thing men believe is the truth."
"Sometimes you must take one life to spare more, and when those times come, sentiment helps nobody."
"But chaos is the natural state of things, for men pull always in their own directions. It is those who want the world to march all the same way that give themselves the challenge."
"I have been many things. An apprentice. An ambassador. A solver of stubborn problems, and a maker of them. Today, it seems, I am a man who settles other people's scores."
"I have been many things. A student. A messenger. A thief. A soldier in old wars. A servant of great powers. An actor in great events. Now? Now, it seems, I am a man who settles other people's scores."
"Still, it was better to swear an oath and never follow through than not even to bother with the oath. Wasn't it?"
"The world changes, alters, is born anew and presents a different face each day! A man never knows what each moment will bring!"
"The world is all change, my friend. We all would like to go back, but the past is done. We must look forwards. We must change ourselves, however painful it may be, or be left behind."
"The memories of our glories fade," he whispered, "and rot away into half-arsed anecdotes, thin and unconvincing as some other bastard's lies. The failures, the disappointments, the regrets, they stay raw as the moments they happened. A pretty girl's smile, never acted on. A petty wrong we let another take the blame for. A nameless shoulder that knocked us in a crowd and left us stewing for days, for months. Forever." He curled his lip. "This is the stuff the past is made of. The wretched moments that make us what we are."
"In my experience, life rarely turns out the way you expect. We must bend with the circumstances, and simply do our best."
"It's always the poor who are crushed under rich men's ambitions."
"When you build your life around only one thing, love only one person, dream only one dream, you risk losing everything at a stroke."
"Patience is the parent of success."
"One battle at a time!"
"A captain looks first to the comfort of his men, then for his own."
"A good leader should never be comfortable."
"When faced with two dark paths a general should always choose the lighter."
"I have seen hell and it is a great city under siege."
"The general with the smallest numbers should remain always on the offensive."
"Mercy and cowardice are the same."
"Never trust a man beyond his own interest."
"Give me only evil men for friends. Them, I understand."
"Never fear your enemies, but your friends, always"
"Bravery is the dead man's virtue. The wise commander never trusts it."
"Never fight your own battles if someone else is willing to fight them for you"
"Money is a different thing to every man, but always a good thing"
"The people far prefer a leader who appear great to one who is."
"Any successful state is supported by pillars of steel and gold."
"When faced with two dark paths a general should always find a third."
"It is a deplorable thing to run from the enemy but often better than the alternative."
"When God means to punish a man he sends him stupid friends, and clever enemies."
"Blades can kill men, but only words can move them, and good neighbours are the surest shelter in a storm."
3 hours ago