From The Great Escape: H. Rider Haggard’s ‘She’ (WoS #1)
I first read this book about ten years ago. My family had gone away on holiday and I had the house to myself for a week. I thought that immersing myself in this epic fantasy novel would help to while away the time, and I was not wrong. The silence, the solitude and “She” were all quite magical. By the end of the week I felt that I too had been away on holiday – to the lost city of Kôr. I had gazed in awe upon colossal moonlit statues in the Temple of Truth; crawled across a trembling plank poised above a black abyss; seen the very Flame of Life hidden within the bowels of the earth; and all of this in the company of the most beautiful woman who ever lived, an experience by turns terrifying and intoxicating. I have read many works of escapist literature in my time but none that has given me such a strong sense of escape – from the mundanity of everyday life into a world of fabulous adventure, as the blurb writers might say.
From Rosita (WoS #1)
It had been a great mistake to marry Rosita, the witch-doctor’s daughter. His own vanity and self-assurance had undone him. He had confidently assumed that he could tame her, educate her, make her civilised; he had aspired to play Professor Higgins to her Eliza Doolittle. But she it was who had proven to be Pygmalion, creating inanimate images in which, impossibly, some small spark of life was lodged . . .
Sweating profusely, he approached the locked door, the room where he was keeping her prisoner. She had thumped wildly on that door for a good half-hour, sworn at him in Spanish, made an infernal racket. Then she had fallen silent.
The silence disturbed him infinitely more than the racket.
“What are you doing in there, Rosita?”
“I’m working on a spell, Professor. To kill you this time. Ten minutes is all you’ve got left. One little pinprick will be the death of you!”
From Pulped! by Andy Boot (WoS #2)
Gasping to try and get air into his lungs, ignoring the stench of death that came from a creature fashioned of long-dead materials, he whipped the string around so that the stones scored the fur and flesh of the creature’s face. Its eyes were blood red, without pupils, and its nose snorted fetid breath at him. The open jaws dripped and then froze with a rictus of pain as the string of ancient stone or bone bit deeply into the flesh of the muzzle, melting it with a liquid sizzle as the creature let loose its grip and brought its hands up to its melting face. It stumbled on its own momentum, and Likely tripped it with one foot as he stumbled back to balance, seeing it tumble past him and into the shrinking portal of darkness. With it went the string, caught in the mess that was once the creature’s face and wrenched from Likely’s hand as the creature was swallowed by the black.