Thursday, March 22, 2012

The Beginnings of Things

I've been thinking about openings to books and stories lately. One of my favorite recently-discovered openings actually comes from the Miyazaki's adaptation of Ursula LeGuin's Earthsea universe, Tales from Earthsea.

Two main elements make it work for me. First, the spectacle. Two dragons fighting--what could be more awesome? The second was the mystery aspect. The men on the boat watching the dragons are clearly stunned not only by the appearance of these creatures after a long absence, but the fact that they're fighting. The mystery deepens when a good king is killed by his son, who has recently been acting strangely, and the queen's seeming disinterest when servants fear that the prince has gone missing.

The killer--now we go into the prince's pov, and he doesn't know why he's killed his father.

Simply awesome. It makes me want to read the Earthsea Trilogy. I'm a bit ashamed to admit that I've never read it. My daughter owns it. I may have to sneak away with her books when she's not looking ....

Also on my late-to-read list: The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo and Hunger Games. I've actually started The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo, and I have to say that the opening is much more quiet than I expected, considering all the hoopla. I don't mind quiet openings at all. It's just interesting, not so much to compare and contrast different openings to try to figure out how they work, but to observe that openings might not necessarily be all about functioning as a sort of marketing tool for a book, but that openings must serve the story. They have to be part of it, and stay in character, so to speak. If the reader is interested in that character (and it may be a setting rather than a human character or it may be something even more abstract--I don't mean character in the literal sense) they'll watch to see what happens next.

Anyway, the movie continued to entertain me after the wonderful opening. I suspect that the books will entertain me too. I'd love to be reading them now, but I'm already juggling two books and four would be a bit much.

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Been a while since I called by... a lot of internet links lapsed following October lightning.

I think you'll like the Earthsea trilogy. I found it in the library and read it about three weeks ago, then wanted to start over and read it again :-) Very much written as children's fiction & it's not a trilogy. There's a fourth called 'Tehanu, the last book of Earthsea' and then there's another, that might be called 'the farthest shore' that I read years ago & recall a foreward in which the author rued her lack of foresight in naming any book the last. The fifth is also about Tehanu.