Her exquisite beauty and brilliant mind were not enough to free her from captivity. That took the power of a goddess… and her skill with a knife.
She was born in poverty, in a dusty village under the equatorial sun. She does not remember her mother, she does not remember her own name — her earliest clear memory is of the day her father sold her to the tall pale man. In the Court of the Pomegranate Tree, where she was taught the ways of a great lady, the ways of a courtesan, she was named Emerald, the precious jewel of the Undying Duke’s collection of beauties.
She calls herself Green.
I read this in just four days amidst a vacation in Vegas, which is saying something. Partly, the speed in which I read was the fact that there aren’t really chapter breaks, just scene breaks, which kept me always saying “one more scene and then I’ll stop” — which never really worked because I was always curious to know more. Green’s character was even more than I hoped after reading the cover copy. I could tell she would be rebellious, but she’s such a strong female character and incredibly focused, determined, smart, and bad-ass. I loved the voice and her point of view and how she would always allude to things before they happened, seeing as she was telling the story of her past. She would say something and I would wonder, “how will that come to pass?” which really added a level of mystery even when she sometimes gave you the outcome of future events. Overall, I was really satisfied and entertained by this book.
The first thing I can remember in this life is my father driving his white ox, Endurance, to the sky burial platforms.
- Every day [a girl] sews [a bell to her bolt of silk] so that when she dies, her soul will be carried out of this life on the music of twenty-five-thousand bells.
- If you do not understand this day, earliest in my memory like the first bird that ever grew feathers and threw itself from the limb of a tree, then you will understand nothing of me and all that has graced and cursed my life in the years since.
- I have lost so much in this life by racing ahead without ever pausing to turn back and take stock of the courses already run.
- Distant memory is an art that absorbs its followers, immerses them in the mazes of the mind.
- My image of my grandmother is as bright and powerful as sunrise on the ocean.
- …[the sun] is not just light, but also fire. Its heat falls like rain through air that one could slice with a table knife.
- Your mind is a jewel, child. … Hoard it well. Others will be jealous of the way your thoughts sparkle.
- Stubborn resistance rose within me like flowers under a spring rain. “My feet have not chosen this path.” // “No.” His voice was sad. “But still it is your path. You cannot unchoose what has been done. You can fight the journey, gather bruises and scars until you fail and are cast aside as too broken to complete. Or you can run ahead, beat the racers at their own game, and claim your prizes.
- He is a black mirror, a dark thief, banished here a long time ago.
- Letters were a way of talking so anyone could hear you at any time. Like standing on the corner repeating yourself forever, but without the endless effort.
- The other thing I learned … was that the very speech of people could change over time. There were seasons to language, just as there were seasons to the years or to the lives of women.
- The last of his pleasure fled as a bird before a storm.
- …for while men are ruled by their loins, those loins have two small brains each no larger than an olive and thus do not think well.
- The air even at that hour still remembered the warm hand of the sun.
- Pride, like patience, can be taught. But as patience may be unlearned all at once in a hard moment, tenacious pride can be acquired in that same hot rush.
- A strange, false smile drew her lips upward like dead men plucked reluctantly from the soil.
- We each pace against the bars that cage us.” // “Your cage is the world” … // “Everyone’s cage is the world. Some worlds are smaller than others.
- The Factor’s house was wrapped in mysteries enclosed in a circle of questions spiraling in on itself until the truth was swallowed like a shadow under the noonday sun.
- Freedom had such strange and unexpected prices.
- That was a lie, of course, and I knew it even then. But I had to see the truth for myself before I could understand the difference.
- My tears led the way. I followed them into the blackness of my heart, walking onward only because there was no point in stopping.
- It was as if the gods of this place had dumped several hundred acres of masonry and precious metal and silk lengths to earth, but forgotten to assemble their toy.
- You are like a tiger born in a cage. You know nothing of hunting, or other cats, though your claws and teeth are mighty enough.
- …but while finding people in Kalimpura was like finding birds in the sky, finding one person in Kalimpura was like finding a single, particular bird in the sky.
- Take two hundred and more of the most ornery, independent women in this city and put them under one roof? With the Goddess in charge, lurking in every corner like a fart in the Courts? No one’s business will ever be private.
- The implied yet hung between us like a slow curse.
- The needle on the compass of my purpose had been spinning for a while.
- Most people never choose anything. They are chosen for, or they follow what is left to them after their choices have been eaten away by time, by ill fortune, by their own actions or the deeds of others.
- We each carry a measure of grace, and we each carry a measure of evil. There is never enough grace to banish the evil, and there is never enough evil to smother the grace.
- You would end up begging beside some purple dock amid people who speak with feathers and curse one another with flowers.
- His hands fluttered like birds to draw a hawk from their nestlings.
- Gods are rarely pleasant. Even the smiling queens of the harvest have the blood of a murdered king somewhere beneath the soil of their fields.
- We still possess a measure of grace.” // “That is why men are greater than gods … We can know grace, and knowing grace, pass beyond. Even the gods themselves are not blessed with souls. When they die, it is forever.
- His friendship is like the friendship of fire to a man — it will burn a house down as readily as it will warm winter stew. If not for his kindly nature, his killing ways would have made a terror of him.
- Now I wish I had listened to myself, but at that time, I did not know my friends from my enemies.
- If a soul had a color, I imagined it might be that cerulean [of the sky]. Perhaps so many thought of paradise as lying somewhere above the air because we recognized the tint by instinct older than words.
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