Tad Williams Quotes

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About Tad Williams

Tad Williams (born 1957) is an American science fiction and fantasy author.

Born: 1957

Categories: Fantasy authors, Novelists, Americans, Living people

Quotes: 69 sourced quotes total

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He who is certain he knows the ending of things when he is only beginning them is either extremely wise or extremely foolish; no matter which is true, he is certainly an unhappy man, for he has put a knife in the heart of wonder.
Not being stupid is important.
Fear goes where it is invited.
Light, with its handmaiden color, was everywhere.
Ambitious men never believe others aren’t the same.
Sometimes doing the gods’ bidding required a hardened heart.
No charm is proof against a dagger in the back.
In times of badness, gold is being worth more than beauty.
A king’s son has nothing but inferiors, each one a potential assassin.
Perhaps he was a bumpkin; at least he was an honest bumpkin.
It was easy to hate if he did not think, Simon discovered.
There was nothing he could do unless he accepted what was real.
There are three kinds of people—the living, the dead, and those at sea.
Part of manhood, I am thinking, is to ponder one’s words before opening one’s mouth.
I shall endeavor to turn dross to purest Metal Absolute: in short, to teach you something.
We trolls say: “Make Philosophy your evening guest, but do not let her stay the night.”
If you have not noticed, we are preparing for war. I’m sorry if that inconveniences you.
Things are not always as old songs tell them to be—especially when it is concerning dragons.
I gave up the love of learning for the love of oblivion—the two cannot live together.
Nothing is without cost. There is a price to all power, and it is not always obvious.
Simple answers to life’s questioning. That would be a magic beyond any I have ever been seeing.
There are no promises in life, Sludig, but it seems to me smarter to take fewer chances.
She knew that life was but a long struggle against disorder, and that disorder was the inevitable winner.
Strangely, although the world is already full of fearful things, mortals seems always to hunt for new worries.
She didn’t know which she liked less, having people tell lies about her or having people know the truth.
The last thing a drunkard loses, you see, is his cunning: it outlasts his soul by a long season.
Simon, there are more things you don’t know than there are things that I do know. I despair of the imbalance.
If the strong can bully the weak without shame, then how are we different from the beasts of forest and field?
Are these things you all say magical charms to chase me away? If so, they do not seem to be working.
“Is this being in love?” he suddenly wondered? It was nothing like the ballads he had heard sung—this was more irritating than uplifting.
Sometimes you men are like lizards, sunning on the stones of a crumbled house, thinking: “what a nice basking-spot someone built for me.”
“Why can nothing be simple?” Geloë shifted on her stool. The wise woman’s voice was surprisingly sympathetic. “Because nothing is simple, Prince Josua.”
“As with all dwellings,” she said, “of mortals and immortals both, it is the living that makes a house—not the doors, not the walls.”
Tiamak closed his eyes to make a short prayer of thanks, hoping that the gods, like children, could be confirmed in good behavior by praise.
You can never tell when princes will get squinty on you. You can never tell when they might suddenly feel their blood and go all royal.
He wanted a home desperately. He was close to the point where he would take a mattress in Hell if the Devil would lend him a pillow.
“Do you get tired, singing?” she asked. Gan Itai laughed quietly. “Does a mother grow tired raising her children? Of course, but it is what I do.”
Perhaps it is fortunate that most heroes who die for their people cannot come back to see what the people do with that hard-bought life and freedom.
Binabik had taught him to do only what he could at any given time. “You cannot catch three fish with two hands,” the little man often said.
“Sharp it away, lad, sharp it away,” the burly guardsman said, making the blade skitter across the whetstone, “lest otherways ye’ll be a girl afore ye’re a man.”
“Thank you, Duke,” the troll said seriously. “May your god be blessing us indeed. We go into unknown places.” “As do all mortals,” Josua added. “Sooner or later.”
Damn everyone to Hell. And damn the bloody forest. And God, too, for that matter. He looked up fearfully from his chill handful of water, but his silent blasphemy went unpunished.
Thank you for your news, Princess. It is none of it happy, but only a fool desires cheerful ignorance and I try not to be a fool. That is my heaviest burden.
“You have something that might be more use to me than either gold or power—something that in fact brings both in its train.” “And what is that?” The count leaned forward. “Knowledge.”
She had little doubt that whatever happened to her on this drifting ship was of scant interest to a God who could allow her to reach this sorry state in the first place.
“This fellow,” he indicated the woodsman with a sweep of his stick, “will reliably not become more alive, but he may have friends or family who will be unsettled to find him so extremely dead.”
When you stopped to think about it, he reflected, there weren’t many things in life one truly needed. To want too much was worse than greed: it was stupidity—a waste of precious time and effort.
Empires were like seawalls, he thought sadly, even those which embodied the best of hopes. The tide of chaos beat at them, and as soon as no one was shoring up the stones any more...
“In my experience,” he said with more than a touch of bitterness, “the gods do not seem to care much what their servants deserve—or at least the rewards they give are too subtle for my understanding.”
It was impossible to see warfare as anything other than what Morgenes had once termed it: a kind of hell on earth that impatient mankind had arranged so it would not have to wait for the afterlife.
The fear was all he had left, but even that was something—he was afraid, so he must be alive! There was darkness, but there was Simon, too! There were not one and the same. Not yet. Not quite...
Everyone at the Hayholt had seemed obsessed with the empty ritual of power, something Miriamele had lived with for so long that it held no interest for her. It was like watching a confusing game played by bad-tempered children.
“I have not slept well since I first entered my brother’s dungeons. While my comfort has improved since then, worry has taken the place of hanging in chains as a denier of rest.” “There are many kinds of imprisonment,” Jarnauga nodded.
She had been dressed in her sky-blue gown and had been suddenly almost terrible in her completeness—so different from the ragged serving girl who had slept on his shoulder. And yet, the very same girl had been inside that blue dress.
To fight a war, you must believe it can accomplish something. We fight this one to save John’s kingdom, or perhaps even to save all of mankind...but isn’t that what we always think? That all wars are useless—except the one we’re fighting now?
The wise man is not waiting for the realness of the world to prove itself to him. How can one be an authority before the experiencing of this realness? My master taught me—and to me it seems chash, meaning correct—that you must not defend against the entering of knowledge.
She realized now that she knew little about people outside the courts of Nabban and Erkynland, although she had always thought herself a shrewd judge of humanity. However, it was a larger and much more complicated world on the other side of the castle walls than she had ever suspected.
“Not everyone can stand up and be a hero, Princess,” he said quietly. “Some prefer to surrender to the inevitable and salve their conscience with the gift of survival.” Miriamele thought about the obvious truth of what Cadrach had said as they walked on, but could not understand why it made her so unutterably sad.
“It would please me your not being obsequious. That is a trait of marketplace people who are selling shoddy goods. I am sure to prefer endless, stupid questions to that.” “Ob...obseek...?” “Obsequious. Flattering with oiliness. It is not liked by me. In Yiqanuc we say: ‘Send the man with the oily tongue to go and lick the snowshoes.’”
“Now, boy, now...” he said bewilderedly, “what is all this talk of glory? Have you caught the sickness, too? Curse me for a blind beggar, I should have seen. This fever has cankered even your simple heart, hasn’t it, Simon? I’m sorry. It takes a strong will or practiced eye to see through the glitter to the rotten core.”
“There is nothing like the ocean to remind you of what is important,” she said quietly, and smiled. Cadrach’s returned smile was weak. “Ah, by the Good Lord, that’s true,” he groaned. “I am reminded that life is sweet, that the sea is treacherous, and that I am a fool.” Miriamele nodded solemnly, staring up at the bellying sails. “Those are good things to remember,” she said.
The manchildren, the mortals, have many ideas of what happens after they die, and wrangle about who is right and who is wrong. These disagreements often come to bloodshed, as if they wished to dispatch messengers who could discover the answer to their dispute. Such messengers, as far as I know of mortal philosophy, never return to give their brethren the taste of truth they yearn for.
“Never make your home in a place,” the old man had said, too lazy in the spring warmth to do more than wag a finger. “Make a home for yourself inside your own head. You’ll find what you need to furnish it—memory, friends you can trust, love of learning, and other such things.” Morgenes had grinned. “That way it will go with you wherever you journey. You’ll never lack for a home—unless you lose your head, of course...”
“Neither War nor Violent Death,” Morgenes had written, “have anything uplifting about them, yet they are the candle to which Humanity flies again and again, as complacently as the lowly moth. He who has been upon a battlefield, and who is not blinded by popular conceptions, will confirm that on this ground Mankind seems to have created a Hell on Earth out of sheer impatience, rather than waiting for that original to which—if the priests are correct—most of us will eventually be ushered.
Miriamele was dismayed by her own willful ignorance. How could she, with all her native good fortune, be so consumed with the few inconveniences that God or fate had put in her way? It was shameful. She tried to tell Duke Isgrimnur something of her thoughts, but he would not let her slide too far into self-loathing. “Each one of us has our own sorrows, Princess,” he said. “It’s no shame to take them to heart. The only sin is to forget that other folk have theirs, too—or to let pity for yourself slow your hand when someone needs help.”
Only the mercenaries were here by choice. To Simon, the minds of men who would come to this of their own will were suddenly as incomprehensible as the thoughts of spiders or lizards—less so, even, for the small creatures of the earth almost always fled from danger. These were madmen, Simon realized, and that was the direst problem of the world: that madmen should be strong and unafraid, so that they could force their will on the weak and peace-loving. If God allowed such madness to be, Simon could not help thinking, then He was an old God who had lost His grip.
As he silently approached the last float, a latticework ball of reeds, he offered an unspoken prayer to He Who Always Steps on Sand that even now the little bottom-walkers were pushing and shoving their way into the cage below. Because of his unusual education, which included a year living on Perdruin—unheard of for a Wrannaman—Tiamak did not really believe in He Who Always Steps on Sand anymore, but he still held a fondness for him, such as might be felt for a senile grandfather who often tumbled down from the house, but once brought nuts and carved toys. Besides, it never hurt to pray, even if one did not believe in the object of prayer. It helped to compose the mind, and, at the very least, it impressed others.
The spider hung motionless, like a dull brown gem in an intricate necklace. The web was complete, now, the last strands laid delicately in place; it stretched from one side of the ceiling corner to the other, quivering gently in the rising air as though strummed by invisible hands. For a moment Isgrimnur lost the thread of talk, important talk though it was. His eyes had drifted from the worried faces huddled near the fireplace in the great hall, roving up to the darkened corner, and to the tiny builder at rest. There’s sense, he told himself. You build something and then you stay there. That’s the way it’s meant to be. Not this running here, running there, never see your blood-family or your home roofs for a year at a time.
“I’m your apprentice!” Simon protested. “When are you going to teach me something?” “Idiot boy! What do you think I’m doing? I’m trying to teach you to read and to write. That’s the most important thing. What do you want to learn?” “Magic!” Simon said immediately. Morgenes stared at him. “And what about reading...?” the doctor asked ominously. Simon was cross. As usual, people seemed determined to balk him at every turn. “I don’t know,” he said. What’s so important about reading and letters, anyway? Books are just stories about things. Why should I want to read books?” Morgenes grinned, an old stoat finding a hole in the henyard fence. “Ah, boy, how can I be mad at you...what a wonderful, charming, perfectly stupid thing to say!” The doctor chuckled appreciatively, deep in his throat. “What do you mean?” Simon’s eyebrows moved together as he frowned. “Why is it wonderful and stupid?” “Wonderful because I have such a wonderful answer,” Morgenes laughed. Stupid because...because young people are made stupid, I suppose—as tortoises are made with shells, and wasps with stings—it is their protection against life’s unkindnesses.” “Begging your pardon?” Simon was totally flummoxed now. “Books,” Morgenes said grandly, leaning back on his precarious stool, “—books are magic. That is the simple answer. And books are traps as well.” “Magic? Traps?” “Books are a form of magic—” the doctor lifted the volume he had just laid on the stack, “—because they span time and distance more surely than any spell or charm. What did so-and-so think about such-and-such two hundred years agone? Can you fly back through the ages and ask him? No—or at least, probably not. But, ah! If he wrote down his thoughts, if somewhere there exists a scroll, or a book of his logical discourses...he speaks to you! Across centuries! And if you wish to visit far Nascadu or lost Khandia, you have also but to open a book....” “Yes, yes, I suppose I understand all that.” Simon did not try to hide his disappointment. This was not what he had meant by the word “magic.” “What about traps, then? Why ‘traps’?” Morgenes leaned forward, waggling the leather-bound volume under Simon’s nose. “A piece of writing is a trap,” he said cheerily, “and the best kind. A book, you see, is the only kind of trap that keeps its captive—which is knowledge—alive forever. The more books you have,” the doctor waved an all-encompassing hand about the room, “the more traps, then the better chance of capturing some particular, elusive, shining beast—one that might otherwise die unseen.”

End Tad Williams Quotes