Hilary Mantel, leaving me gape-mouthed and awestruck in Bringing Up the Bodies. The first one is the opening paragraph in which we learn Cromwell has named his hunting birds after his wife and daughters.
[Two cropped images of book pages.
The first reads, “His children are falling from the sky. He watches from horseback, acres of England stretching behind him; they drop, gilt-winged, each with a blood-filled gaze. Grace Cromwell hovers in thin air. She is silent when she takes her prey, silent as she glides to his fist. But the sounds she makes then, the rustle of feathers and the creak, the sigh and riffle of pinion, the small cluck-cluck from her throat, these are sounds of recognition, intimate, daughterly, almost disapproving. Her breast is gore-streaked and flesh clings to her claws.”
The second reads, “You can be merry with the king, you can share a joke with him. But as Thomas More used to say, it’s likes sporting with a tamed lion. You tousle its mane and pull its ears, but all the time you’re thinking, those claws, those claws, those claws.”]