What kind of knife is this?' Locke held a rounded buttering utensil up for Chains' inspection. 'It's all wrong. You couldn't kill anyone with this.' 'Well, not very easily, I'll grant you that, my boy.' Chains guided Locke in the placement of the butter knife and assorted small dishes and bowls. 'But when the quality get together to dine, it's impolite to knock anybody off with anything but poison. That thing is for scooping butter, not slicing windpipes.' 'This is a lot of trouble to go to just to eat.' 'Well, in Shades' Hill you may be able to eat cold bacon and dirt pies off one another's asses for all your old master cares. But now you're a Gentleman Bastard, emphasis on the Gentleman. You're going to learn how to eat like this, and how to serve people who eat like this.
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Gods, I love this place, " Locke said, drumming his fingers against his thighs. "Sometimes I think this whole city was put here simply because the gods must adore crime. Pickpockets rob the common folk, merchants rob anyone they can dupe, Capa Barsavi robs the robbers and the common folk, the lesser nobles rob nearly everyone, and Duke Nicovante occasionally runs off with his army and robs the shit out of Tal Verarr or Jerem, not to mention what he does to his own nobles and his common folk.
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A glass poured to air for the one who sits with us unseen; the patron and protector, the Crooked Warden, the Father of Necessary Pretexts. Thanks for deep pockets poorly guarded. Thanks for watchmen asleep at their posts. Thanks for the city to nurture us and the night to hide us. Thanks for friends to help us spend the loot.
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I'm speaking of the pursuit of excellence in all things. All things! Presence of mind and devotion to craft. A great artist has these. A great chef. A great master of tea. There's powerful kung fu in a well-built house or an eloquent letter, but the limit of your imagination is bones breaking and bullets flying.
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Crooked Warden, I will fear no darkness for the night is yours, " muttered Locke, pointing the first two fingers of his left hand into the darkness. The Dagger of the Thirteenth, a thief's gesture against evil. "Your night is my cloak, my shield, my escape from those who hunt to feed the noose. I will fear no evil, for you have made the night my friend." "Bless the Benefactor, " said Jean, squeezing Locke's left forearm. "Peace and profit to his children.
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Am I making myself clear, Orrin? I don't regret how I've lived these past few years. I move where I will. I set no appointments. I guard no borders. What landbound king has the freedom of a ship's captain? The Sea of Brass provides. When I need haste, it gives me winds. When I need gold, it gives me galleons." Thieves prosper, thought Locke. The rich remember. He made his decision, and gripped the rail to avoid shaking. "Only gods-damned fools die for lines drawn on maps, " said Zamira. "But nobody can draw lines around my ship. If they try, all I need to do to slip away is set more sail.
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It's perfect! Locke would appreciate it." "Bug, " Calo said, "Locke is our brother and our love for him knows no bounds. But the four most fatal words in the Therin language are 'Locke would appreciate it.'" "Rivalled only by 'Locke taught me a new trick, '" added Galo. "The only person who gets away with Locke Lamora games... " "... is Locke... " "... because we think the gods are saving him up for a really big death. Something with knives and hot irons... " "... and fifty thousand cheering spectators.
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Are you smarter than my chicken?' cried a weathered, wild-haired woman holding a nonplussed bird over her head. At her feet was a wooden board covered with numbers and arcane symbols. 'Lay your bets! Test your wits against a trained fowl! One coppin a try! Are you smarter than my chicken? You might be in for a surprise!
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That's a sweet piece, " said Jean, briefly forgetting to be aggravated. "You didn't snatch that off a street." "No, " said Locke, before taking another deep draught of the warm water in the decanter. "I got it from the neck of the governor's mistress." "You can't be serious." "In the governor's manor." "Of all the -" "In the governor's bed." "Damned lunatic!" "With the governor sleeping next to her." The night quiet was broken by the high, distant trill of a whistle, the traditional swarming noise of city watches everywhere. Several other whistles joined in a few moments later. "It is possible, " said Locke with a sheepish grin, "that I have been slightly too bold.
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Now, it's undeniably true that male writers (including yours truly) are generally and commercially allowed to write about 'girl stuff' without being penalized for doing so. In part this is the same old shit it's always been... I've said before that men who write mostly about men win prizes for revealing the human condition, while women who write about both men and women are filed away as writing 'womens' issues.' Likewise, in fantasy, the imprimatur of a dude somehow makes stuff like romance, relationship drama, introspection, and adorable animal companions magically not girly after all. In a sense, we male fantasists are allowed to be like money launderers for girl cooties." [Game of Thrones and Invisible Cootie Vectors (blog post, March 30, 2014)]
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