“Life is simple," I said. "Ale, women, sword, and reputation. Nothing else matters.”
“There is such joy in chaos. Stow all the world's evils behind a door and tell men that they must never, ever, open the door, and it will be opened because there is pure joy in destruction.”
“Wyrd biõ ful ãræd,” I said. Fate is fate. It cannot be changed or cheated.”
“Words are like breath," she said, "you say them and they're gone. But writing traps them.”
“This isn't just a war over land, it's a war about God. And Alfred...is Christ's servant...”
“You do like them thin, don't you?" Pyrlig said, amused. "Now I like them meaty as well-fed heifers! Give me a nice dark Briton with hips like a pair of ale barrels and I'm a happy priest. Poor Hild. Thin as a ray of sunlight, she is, but I pity a Dane who crosses her path today.”
“But deep under the earth, where the corpse serpent gnaws at the roots of Yggdrasil, the tree of life, there are three spinners. Three women who make our fate. We might believe we make choices, but in truth our lives are in the spinners' fingers. They make our lives, and destiny is everything. The Danes know that, and even the Christians know it, Wyrd biõ ful araed, we Saxons say, fate is inexorable.”
“I swear to be your man," I said, looking into his pale eyes, "until your family is safe."
He hesitated. I had given him the oath, but I had qualified it.
I had let him know that I would not remain his man for ever, but he accepted my terms. He should have kissed me on both cheeks, but that would have disturbed Æthelflaed and so he raised my right hand and kissed the knuckles, then kissed the crucifix.
"Thank you," he said.
The truth, of course, was that Alfred was finished, but, with the perversity and arrogance of foolish youth, I had just given him my oath and promised to fight for him.
And all, I think, because a six-year-old stared at me. And she had hair of gold.”
“I like to see a man obeying a woman," Father Pyrlig said as I fetched the loaf.
"Why's that?" I asked.
"Because it means I'm not alone in this sorry world.”
“He was a startlingly handsome young man, and that, too, distracted him for girls were attracted to him like priests to gold.”
“And that, too, was the truth, that a man cannot step back from a fight and stay a man. We make much in this life if we are able. We make children and wealth and amass land and build halls and assemble armies and give great feasts, but only one thing survives us. Reputation. I could not walk away.”
“I have a path to follow," I said, "and it goes north. North back to Bebbanburg.”
“There is such joy in chaos. Stow all the world’s evils behind a door and tell men that they must never, ever, open the door, and it will be opened because there is pure joy in destruction.”
“There is a greater war, Uhtred. Not the fight between Saxon and Dane, but between God and the devil, between good and evil! We are part of it!”
“And I looked,' Pyrlig said to me, 'and I saw a pale horse, and the rider's name was death.' I just stared in amazement. 'It's in the gospel book,' he explained sheepishly, 'and it just cam to mind.”
“There comes a moment in life when we see ourselves as others see us. I suppose that is part of growing up, and it is not always comfortable. Eanflæd,”
“A trial relied heavily on oaths, but both sides would bring as many liars as they could muster, and judgment usually went to the better liars or, if both sides were equally convincing, to the side who had the sympathy of the onlookers.”
“The Britons have never learned to love the Saxons. Indeed they hate us, and in those years when the last English kingdom was on the edge of destruction, they could have tipped the balance by joining Guthrum. Instead they held back their sword arms, and for that the Saxons can thank the church. Men like Asser had decided that the Danish heretics were a worse enemy than English Christians, and if I were a Briton I would resent that, because the Britons might have taken back much of their lost lands if they had allied themselves with the pagan Northmen. Religion makes strange bedfellows.”
“There is such joy in a good ship, and a greater joy to have the ship's belly fat with other men's silver. It is the Viking joy, driving a dragon-headed hull through a wind-driven sea towards a future full of feasts and laughter. The Danes taught me that and I love them for it.”
“Your mother didn't give birth to you," I told hint, "but farted you out of her shrivelled arsehole."
"Frightened or not," Asser said, "you've taken Peredur's silver, so you must fight them now."
"Say one more word, monk," I said, "and I'll cut off your scrawny balls.”
“Win your war, Lord Uhtred," he said, "then take her away from us priests and give her lots of children. She'll be happy, and one day she'll be truly wise. That's the women's real gift, to be wise, and not many men have it.”
“Men fear wanderers for they have no rules. The Danes came as strangers, rootless and violent, and that, I thought, was why I was always happier in their company.”
“The fear came then. The shield wall is a terrible place. It is where a warrior makes his reputation, and reputation is dear to us. Reputation is honour, but to gain that honour a man must stand in the shield wall where death runs rampant. I had been in the shield wall at Cynuit and I knew the smell of death, the stink of it, the uncertainty of survival, the horror of the axes and swords and spears, and I feared it. And it was coming.”
“We had to fight, because to decline battle was a defeat.”
“Tomorrow," he shouted, "you do not fight for me! I fight for you! I fight for Wessex! I fight for your wives, for your children and your homes! Tomorrow we fight and, I swear to you on my father's grave and on my children's lives, tomorrow we shall win!”
“And on my conscience," he said, "I will for ever bear the weight of all those men who died in a hopeless cause. Two thousand against five thousand? How can 1 justify leading so few against so many?"
"You know how."
"So I can be king?"
"So that we are not slaves in our own land," I said.”
“The world began in chaos and it will end in chaos. The gods brought the world into existence, and they will end it when they fight among themselves, but in between the chaos of the world's birth and the chaos of the world's death is order, and order is made by oaths, and oaths bind us like the buckles of a harness.”
“I knew a man who had a dumb wife. He was ever so happy.”
“Hell = "where we get rid of all the lies told to us. That’s where we go and cry like rain. Mom, hell is where you go to see yourself.”
“I’m less opposed to pink than I am to dresses, for the simple reason that I hated dresses and skirts as a child. I hated the way they impeded my mobility and playground power, and I hated the fear I had while wearing them that with one stiff breeze I would be exposed to the world, with no choice afterward but to slip quietly into a permanent vegetative state.”
“To kiss and to kill are similar words to eyes that focus with difficulty.”
“its like you said? i lead my people-"
forth!" zifnab carried on enthusiastically! " out of eygpt! out of bondage! across the desert! pillar of fire-"
desert?" lenthan looked anxious again. "fire? i thought we were going to the stars!"
sorry. wrong script" zifnab said”
“Pravda, u stvari, i ne treba da nas previše zanima. Pravda nije ljudska stvar. Postoji pravda slijepih i krutih zakona, a osim nje možda i neka viša pravda, ali tu ja ne razumijem. Uvijek mi se činilo da na ovom svijetu živim izvan pravde. Pravda me se ne tiče. Pravda je nešto izvan mene i iznad mene. Kako god se uzme, nešto neljudsko. Nikad neću surađivati s tom odvratnom silom.”
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