Here’s a list of first lines from books, only ones that I have read, that are by far my top ten favorite. (So far.)
10. “Prince Raoden of Arelon awoke early that morning, completely unaware that he had been damned for all eternity.” – Brandon Sanderson, Elantris.
9. “To Sherlock Holmes she is always the woman. I have seldom heard him mention her under any other name.” – Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, A Scandal in Bohemia.
8. “There once was a young man who wished to gain his Heart’s Desire” – Neil Gaiman, Stardust.
7. “Everything starts somewhere, although many physicists disagree.” – Terry Pratchett, Hogfather.
6. “Logen plunged through the tree, bare feet slipping and sliding on the wet earth, the slush, the wet pine needles, breath rasping in his chest, blood thumping in his head. He stumbled and sprawled onto his side, nearly cut his chest open with his own axe, lay there panting, peering through the shadowy forest.” – Joe Abercrombie, The Blade Itself.
5. “Locke Lamora’s rule of thumb was this: a good confidence game took three months to plan, three weeks to rehearse, and three seconds to win or lose the victim’s trust forever.” – Scott Lynch, The Lies of Locke Lamora.
4. “It was night again. The Waystone Inn lay in silence, and it was a silence of three parts.” – Patrick Rothfuss, The Name of the Wind.
3. “Far out in the uncharted backwaters of the unfashionable end of the Western Spiral arm of the Galaxy lies a small unregarded yellow sun. Orbiting this at a distance of roughly ninety-eight million miles is an utterly insignificant little blue-green planet whose ape-descended life forms are so amazingly primitive that they still think digital watches are a pretty neat idea.” – Douglas Adams, The Hitchhiker’s Guide to the Galaxy.
2. “The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed.” – Stephen King, The Dark Tower I: The Gunslinger
1. “In a hole in the ground there lived a hobbit. Not a nasty, dirty, wet hole, filled with the ends of worms and an oozy smell, nor yet a dry, bare, sandy hole with nothing in it to sit down on or to eat: it was a hobbit-hole, and that means comfort.” – J.R.R. Tolkien, The Hobbit.
As if my #1 could be anything else. I’ll admit that #5 is a little bit of cheating because it skips the prologue and goes to chapter one but it’s my blog so I can bend the rules. In my mind I make up for this with A Scandal in Bohemia because it’s beginning of the book, The Adventures of Sherlock Holmes, and the beginning of the story.
Sadly, though it is my favorite book, J.R.R. Tolkien’s The Lord of the Rings first line in The Fellowship of the Ring just doesn’t have that same impact.