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Bumming around online this morning, I came across this photo taken in Bronx back during the blizzard of 2010. It’s starkly beautiful somehow, and reminded me of the opening scene of Swordspoint:

Snow was falling on Riverside, great white feather-puffs that veiled the cracks in the facades of its ruined houses; slowly softening the harsh contours of jagged roof and fallen beam. Eaves were rounded with snow, overlapping, embracing, sliding into each other, capping houses all clustered together like a fairy-tale village. Little slopes of snow nestled in the slats of shutters still cosily latched against the night. It dusted the tops of fantastical chimnes that spiraled up from frosted roofs, and it formed white peaks in the ridges of the old coats of arms carved above the doorways. Only here and there a window, its glass long shattered, gaped like a black mouth with broken teeth, sucking snow into its maw.

Let the fairy tale begin on a winter’s morning then, with one drop of blood new-fallen on the ivory snow: a drop of blood new-fallen on the ivory snow: a drop as bright as a clear-cut ruby, red as the single spot of claret on the lace cuff. And it therefore follows that evil lurks behind each broken window, scheming malice and enchantment; while behind the latched shutters the good are sleeping their just sleeps at this early hour in Riverside. Soon they will arise to go about their business; and one, maybe, will be as lovely as the day, armed, as are the good, for a predestined triumph.

The picture’s entirely too open, of course. But something about people trudging through a worn-down part of town turns my thoughts entirely too easily to Riverside. (One of the best book-openings I’ve ever come across, incidentally; and nowhere near as pastoral as those paragraphs make it seem.)

Originally published at Faith Seeking Understanding. You can comment here or there.


( 8 comments — Leave a comment )
Oct. 25th, 2012 01:29 pm (UTC)
Although I love the book (actually, all of them), I must admit that I never cared for the opening. It's beautifully crafted and pictured, but it really didn't pull me into the novel. However, I love it enough that I keep recommending it to people who haven't heard of it and have read it several times myself as well as listened to the audiobook. So I guess I got caught despite myself :-)

Loved the pic...

- Erulisse (one L)
Oct. 25th, 2012 01:39 pm (UTC)
You know, it's odd. The opening didn't really "pull me in" in the sense of placing me in the story. But it was both very visual and very enigmatic - I could see the scene, and I had to work hard enough to figure out what was going on that it motivated me to dive into the world. I think that approach works more or less well for different people, depending on their characters. It worked very well for me, but I can see why other people wouldn't react the same way.
Oct. 25th, 2012 03:03 pm (UTC)
It's a fantastically evocative opening. The beta-reader in me itches at the switch in tenses between the two paragraphs, which I always find a bit jarring (and nowhere else in the book, that I can think of, is the narrator as a presence so foregrounded as in that second paragraph, which also makes it stylistically sit a bit oddly with the rest.)

But the visuals are astounding. I read those two paragraphs and think "Film! Film!", because that image of the single drop of blood on the snow is just made to be the opening shot of a movie. (Cue drooly mental fantasy-casting of Swordspoint movie - just_ann_now?)

Edited at 2012-10-25 03:04 pm (UTC)
Oct. 25th, 2012 03:45 pm (UTC)
You guys are having an interesting discussion which I cannot participate in right now! STOP THAT. I will be back later to engage! Great picture, Marta; later I'll link or post a picture that EK herself feels beautifully illustrates that opening scene.
Oct. 25th, 2012 11:16 pm (UTC)
Here we go!

The (heart-stoppingly beautiful) photo that posted is right here. *stops, yet again, to sigh* Ahhhhhhhh.

Casting discussions: here (from EK herself) and here, with input from EK, and also here with lots and lots of comments and suggestions from _riversiders.

I personally like the opening the more I read it - I wasn't a fan of it at all at first - and I absolutely love it in the audiobook, with Nate Tronerud's haunting guitar theme in the background. You can hear it here by clicking on the "Swordspoint" link; it's the "Riverside" theme.

Edited at 2012-10-25 11:43 pm (UTC)
Oct. 26th, 2012 12:08 pm (UTC)
Ooh, yes, Ben Wishaw. Always in favour on principle of more Ben Wishaw.

(He played a thoroughly spoilt, unlikeable, but very believeable and human Richard II in the BBC Shakespeare history series The Hollow Crown this summer, and blew me away. Astounding performance.)

I like the lad from Edwin Drood as Alec as well; definitely agree Alec ought to have an "interesting" face.

(Just to betray my usual biases, he's not young enough any more but ten years ago I would have loved to see David Tennant as Alec...)

ETA: Why am I not a member of _riverside? This needs rectifying forthwith. Back in a mo.

Edited at 2012-10-26 12:09 pm (UTC)
Oct. 26th, 2012 01:36 pm (UTC)
David Tennant would still certainly be a possibility for The Privilege of the Sword (TPOTS) Alec, who is fifteen years older, wiser and cannier but still extremely mischievous. Sometimes I love TPOTS Alec more than Swordspoint Alec. (I like the idea of Tom Hiddleston as TPOTS Alec, too. Someone pointed out that he's WAY too popular now. But can you imagine what would happen if he happened to twitter the words "Ellen Kushner's 'Swordspoint'"? Yowie.)
Oct. 26th, 2012 05:05 pm (UTC)
Wise, canny and extremely mischievous - yup, that sounds like a DT role!

(And Tom Hiddleston was also in The Hollow Crown - he played Prince Hal/Henry V, also brilliantly. I do thoroughly recommend The Hollow Crown if you ever get a chance to see it - great production.)
( 8 comments — Leave a comment )



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