Catherynne M. Valente · 516 pages
Rating: (2.3K votes)
“I looked at this man and thought: Oh, how we are going to hurt each other.”
“We like the wrong sorts of girls, they wrote. They are usually the ones worth writing about.”
“All things are strange which are worth knowing.”
“This is my heart—carry it with you. I will dream of you in the dark, and you will taste it in my tea, and feel it in my shoes.”
“There is always a moment when stories end, a moment when everything is blue and black and silent, and the teller does not want to believe it is over, and the listener does not, and so they both hold their breath and hope fervently as pilgrims that it is not over, that there are more tales to come, more and more, fitted together like a long chain coiled in the hand. They hold their breath; the trees hold theirs, the air and the ice and the wood and the Gate. But no breath can be held forever, and all tales end.”
“I think that one morning, the Papess woke in her tower, and her blankets were so warm, and the sun was so golden, she could not bear it. I think she woke, and dressed, and washed her face in cold water, and rubbed her shaven head. I think she walked among her sisters, and for the first time saw that they were so beautiful, and she loved them. I think she woke up one morning of all her mornings, and found that her heart was as white as a silkworm, and the sun was clear as glass on her brow, and she believed then that she could live, and hold peace in her hand like a pearl.”
“Did you never wonder why the old books are so full of dragons chasing after maidens? The serpents think the girls are orphans, and long to get them away in a lair so that they may grow up strong and tall.”
“Everything good in the world has feathers and wings and claws.”
“A dragon looks like a girl when it is young.”
“We treat our stone wives with much more care than they treat their warm ones, anyway. I personally dust mine once a week, and I know Khaamil gives them presents when I am not looking. These are yours - they are in your care, and you must be faithful.”
“I've always had enough, even if my enough and your enough are as different as an elephant and a minaret.”
“In the beginning there was Dust, and in the end there will be Dust, and in the middle there is Dust, Dust, Dust!”
“What is it, Master Calligrapher, that little girls do in the way that spiders weave?" sleeve asked primly.
The Calligrapher coughed, for his room was very dusty, and there was dust even on his eyelashes, and said: "It is right and proper," he said, "for a girl to read as many books as there are bricks in this city, and then, when she is finished, to begin to write new ones which are made out of the old ones, as this city is made of those stones.”
“Is there anything which does not do as you say?" the girl asked archly. He blushed.
"You know my cry. I do not know yours," he mumbled, not meeting her gaze.”
“This maze is laid out such that should you step through the correct path, by its end you will have learned the most extraordinary dance, such that any coronation would be proud to see you at the height of its feast, such that any holy dervish would weep and call you his devotion."
"I think that is very strange—"
"All things are strange which are worth knowing.”
“I see you go bare-shod. This is most likely extremely sensible. Shoes are no end of trouble for girls. . . . How many have danced to death in slippers of silk and glass and fur and wood? Too many to count—the graveyards, they are so full these days. You are very wise to let your soles become grubby with mud, to let them grow their own slippers of moss and clay and calluses. This is far preferable to shoes which may become wicked at any moment.”
“The Sirens flicked their wings at the wall, inscribing it with their own blue ink: Even in penance is beauty; blessed are all the ocean’s drowned!”
“(...) Tell me a tale in which a woman is wed, and she is happy." The boy's lip trembled, and there was pity in him like a stranging vine. He knelt at Dinarzad's bare feet, and held her hands in his. "I do not know any stories like that", he whispered.”
“Lawlessness doesn’t mean there’s no law, you know, it just means that there are a lot of different laws slugging it out in the streets, and none of them have come out on top yet.”
“...what maiden knows how the world is skewed to spare any testing of her virtue?”
“The calligrapher coughed, for his room was very dusty, and there was dust even on his eyelashes, and said: “It is right and proper,” he said, “for a girl to read as many books as there are bricks in this city, and then, when she is finished, to begin to write new ones which are made out of the old ones, as this city is made of those stones.”
“We think . . . that girls ought to sing. They ought to sing, and dance while they're singing. But we are not girls, and so can be almost certain that we know nothing about the matter.”
“I knew his face when he came. Of course I knew it. Even a Star dreams. I have been dreaming a long time, and I watched the glittering cord of that man’s life spool out until it intersected with mine, and how the sparks lit the grass at my feet! I looked at this man and thought: Oh, how we are going to hurt each other. But Stars, you know, are fixed in their courses, and we can no more change the throttling paces of orbit than a rabbit can shorten its ears. I saw his cord lashing and snapping in the dark, and could do nothing.”
“My old friends, you must help me! Tell me what it is that a girl does in the way that a spider weaves, so that Solace will not grow up to be the wrong sort of girl.” We like the wrong sorts of girls, they wrote. They are usually the ones worth writing about.”
“they climbed their ladders to wheedle and prune the trees into holiness”
“I am sorry," said the machine, slumping at the shoulders. "I will try to have the right answer, if you will come back later." I put my hand on the creature's shoulder. "It's all right; I don't know, either. But spiders are funny and determined things, and must be treated carefully." "Yes," she said. "It is the same with clocks".”
“We like the wrong sort of girls", they wrote. "They are usually the ones worth writing about.”
“I think this is very strange --"
"All things are strange which are worth knowing (...).”
“When I was just a boy, my father was teaching me to mix bilewort, holly seeds, and elephant ear to make a draft that would plant the seeds in the subject’s stomach, resulting in a very festive arrangement bursting from their mouths a few weeks after application. When we finished, he spread a bit of the stuff on my tongue, like a sacrament—for my parents believed sincerely that death was a sacred covenant between poisoner and condemned, and like all sacred things, required due reverence. We give a person the world distilled, and thus deliver them from it. What more profound act can there be?”
“Do you know what happens when you do nothing? Nothing.”
“Accept that you are imperfect and always will be. Your quest is not to perfect yourself, but to better your imperfect self.”
“an internal form of acting, a meditation, a meditation that consciously reconnects you to all life everywhere. It is what the Taoists say: The way to do is to be.”
“Having a brilliant life means going outside your comfort zone. And sometimes discomfort shows us ways we can improve.”
“For a true name holds true power.”
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