Book Ends / Literature

Exactly What It Says On The Tin.

Note that some Bookends can be a spoiler, so beware.
  • The The Acts of Caine book Blade of Tyshalle by Matthew Woodring Stover has the "A tale is told of twin boys born to different mothers" passage appear right after the book begins (after the ending quotes) and right before it ends (second-to-last page).
  • The Eighth Doctor Adventures story Alien Bodies begins with the Third Doctor on a distant, peaceful, deserted planet, burying Laika, the Russian dog who became the first living creature to leave Earth's atmosphere and who died in the attempt. The book ends with the Eighth Doctor carrying out a wake on the same planet for himself.
  • American Psycho begins and ends with the color red and the protagonist reading a sign.
  • The third book of Traci Harding's trilogy ''The Ancient Future", ends with Noah/Selwyn reading out the first line of the first book.
  • Artemis Fowl:
    • After the main character dies and is resurrected, he struggles to recognize Holly, so the final book ends with the opening line of the first as she starts to tell him the whole story.
    • Before that, we have a Call-Back to Artemis and Holly's first meeting.
    • The first book is about fairies laying a siege on the Fowl Manor with humans guarding it. The last book is about the main group laying a siege on Fowl Manor with fairies guarding it.
  • In the Aunt Dimity series:
    • Aunt Dimity and the Deep Blue Sea opens with Lori fielding balls while her sons play cricket (since she can do little else in the game). At the end of the book, Lori speaks of rejoining her sons in their backyard play, but says she can bowl a wicket clean nine times out of ten.
    • Aunt Dimity Slays the Dragon opens on a boring committee meeting, where the villagers are planning for another summer of events, which promise to be just like last year's (and the year before that...). The book closes with Lori and her neighbours actually looking forward to the next committee meeting, since their fun-yet-hectic renaissance summer is over and Guy Fawkes Day is fast approaching.
  • "Bad Monkey" by Carl Hiaasen. All what remains of a boat accident victim is his right arm. The "victim" is a criminal who sawed off his own arm to fake his death. This being a Hiaasen novel, the plan goes belly up and Hilarity Ensues. The story ends with the baddie getting murdered for real, and after the sharks had lunch, only his left arm remains.
  • Baltimore, a novel by Mike Mignola and Christopher Golden uses a tense for this: the beginning and ending sections are both written in present tense, versus the rest being written in past tense.
  • The Barsoom Project opens with a battle scene from the first Fimbulwinter Game, in which a club-wielding Adventurer is killed out by the Terichik. At the end of the book, the second Fimbulwinter Game kicks off its own climactic battle with an identical scene using the same lines of narration, except that this time it's Max who dies.
  • Beyond the Western Sea begins "Just before dawn - that moment when time itself seems to stand still, when the whole world teeters on the edge of possibilites. . ." and ends with "She felt herself teetering on the edge of possibilites."
  • The Bible begins and ends with the Tree of Life.
  • Glen Cook's The Black Company is a series of ten novels with a total of five narrators between them. That said, a single narrator tells the stories of the first four books...then comes back for the tenth and final novel, the responsibilities that kept him from narrating the others finally discharged.
  • The Book of Swords trilogy begins and ends with the god Vulcan searching the mountains for fire.
  • Brothers of the Snake
    • Both the first and the last story have their finales on Baal Solock, and both have Priad refusing to take part in post-battle festives to his honor.
    • The last story begins and ends with a successful trench dive, albeit done by two different people.
  • At the beginning of Buddenbrooks, the family talks about another merchant who was ruined recently. Guess what happens to the family Buddenbrook at the end.
  • The Case of the Toxic Spell Dump begins with the narrator receiving a call from his boss in the middle of the night (and the boss blaming time zones). It ends with the narrator deliberately calling the boss at the same hour.
  • The British publication of A Clockwork Orange begins and ends with almost exactly the same passages, only with different names for the people in his gang. Several chapters, including the first and last, also start with the phrase, "So, what's it going to be then, eh?"
  • The Confederation of Valor book The Heart of Valor by Tanya Huff has scenes at the beginning and ending that are introduced almost exactly the same way: the main character, a Marine, is on a balcony in a space station looking down at the new recruits.
  • The first book in The Dark Tower opens with "The man in black fled across the desert, and the gunslinger followed." The last book ends with those same words because the entire series is a "Groundhog Day" Loop (with a small twist).
  • The Da Vinci Code begins and ends with a dead body in the Louvre. The first time it's Jacques Saunière's. The second time it's the corpse of Mary Magdalene, whose tomb was hidden under the Louvre by the Priory of Sion.
  • DeadSix starts with Valentine stunned with a woman standing over him and thinking at first she's an angel. In his final boss-fight in Alliance of Shadows, against Katerina, the scene repeats with her in Ling's place, after nearly blowing him up with Mr. Perkins.
  • The Deltora Quest series ended, with a "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue, in which the description of Leif's reign uses most of the same wording as the description of King Adin's reign in the first chapter of the first book. The final chapter in the series is even called "Full Circle".
  • The Demonata book Bec begins and ends with the book's tagline "Screams in the dark". The first time is the titular charecter/narrator (who possesses perfect recall) recounting the tale of her birth. The last time is when she is being slowly eaten alive by numerous demons while trapped in a collapsed tunnel.
  • The Diamond Age begins and ends with the sounds of bells ringing from New Chusan.
  • Discworld
    • In Sourcery, the book starts with the sentence "There was a man and he had eight sons". Close to the end of the book, someone is telling a story that starts with the same sentence.
    • At the start of Going Postal, Moist, having been arrested and hanged for cheating and embezzlement, is baffled to find himself offered a government job by the Patrician. At the end, Reacher Gilt, having attempted a much larger con, is given a similar offer.
    • I Shall Wear Midnight begins and ends with Tiffany at the Scouring Fair, a year apart.
    • For the main (non-Young Adult) series as a whole, The Colour Of Magic starts it off with the tale of the Discworld's first tourist, while Raising Steam finishes it with the introduction of mass tourism via the newly-invented steam train.
  • The Divine Comedy: Inferno Canto 1 begins with Dante admitting that his hope in "Divine Love [that] first moved those things of beauty" is weaker than his fear of evil things. 99 cantos later, Paradiso ends with Dante realizing he doesn't care about his weakness or inability because his "desire and will were moved already—like a wheel revolving uniformly—by the Love that moves the sun and the other stars."
  • Doctor Sleep starts with an old AA saying: "FEAR stands for Fuck Everything And Run". The Epilogue starts with the other AA saying: "FEAR stands for Face Everything And Recover".
  • Don Quixote: At chapter I of the first part, Don Quixote spends four days thinking how to MeaningfulRename his horse, and another eight days how to rename himself, showing us that he is a Mad Dreamer. At the penultimate chapter of the second part, Don Quixote immediately thinks of the names he and his partners will adopt as shepherds, and Sanson Carrasco even say some names in a carelessly manner. Don Quixote laughed at the adaptation of the name, showing us that he now is Bored with Insanity.
  • The Dresden Files:
    • A subtle one, but Turn Coat begins with Harry saying, "I know what it feels like to have the Wardens on your ass for something you haven't done." The book ends with Morgan's dying words being, "I knew that you knew how it felt to be an innocent man hounded by the Wardens."
    • In Death Masks, the book opens with Harry reflecting that "Some things just aren't meant to go together. Things like oil and water. Orange juice and toothpaste. Wizards and television." It ends with the lines: "Maybe some things just weren't meant to go together. Things like oil and water, orange juice and toothpaste. Me and Susan. But tomorrow was another day."
  • Edgedancer (a novella of The Stormlight Archive): The story begins with Lift running away from Azimir and ends with her running back to it.
  • The Elenium begins and, except for the epilogue, ends with Sparhawk slinking into Cimmura on a rainy night. Sequel series The Tamuli begins the same way.
  • Emily the Strange: Stranger and Stranger: At the beginning, Emily is packing or rather procrastinating in lieu of packing. She does this at the end.
  • At the beginning of the False Memory trilogy by Dan Krokos, Miranda has Identity Amnesia, and eventually meets Peter, who tells her he's a friend who can explain what happened to her and who she is. It ends with Miranda finding Peter, who lost his memories for the same reason she did, and telling him she's a friend who can explain what happened to him and who he is.
  • The Lion of Farside, first book in The Farside Trilogy starts and ends in the first person, as if the narrator is writing a journal or memoir. The trilogy as a whole starts and ends with Curtis and Varia being together.
  • Finnegans Wake ends with a half-finished sentence that is completed by the book's first sentence, so it's more of a loop.
  • Forbidden starts and ends with the idea of being trapped inside a window, fighting for air until you die.
  • A Game of Thrones, first book of the Song of Ice and Fire series, in the beginning, Eddard Stark punishes a deserter by decapitating him. Near the end of the book, Eddard is decapitated.
  • The first and last conversations Aziraphale and Crowley have in Good Omens involve the strangeness of God making the forbidden fruit so accessible and tempting, and wondering what He's really up to with His game.
  • The Guns of the South begins and ends with Robert E. Lee writing a letter, then being interrupted by someone outside with news for him.
  • Harry Potter:
    • Voldemort dies as a spell intended to kill Harry Potter backfires. Now are we talking about Philosopher's Stone or Deathly Hallows?
    • First book begins with Harry Potter going to Hogwarts. Then, after a years-long timeskip, young Potter leaves to attend the same school as his parents.
    • Hagrid drives Sirius Black's motorcycle to Privet Drive in Philosopher's Stone, to deliver a baby Harry Potter. In Deathly Hallows, 17 years later, Hagrid drives Harry away from Privet Drive—on Sirius Black's motorcycle.
    • Prisoner of Azkaban begins with a lot of owls bringing post to Harry. It ends with more owl post for Harry (and a bit for Ron). The chapters are even called "Owl Post" and "Owl Post Again."
    • Ginny Weasley's first appearance in Philosopher's Stone has her at Platform 9 3/4 begging her mother to allow her to go to Hogwarts. Her last appearance has her at Platform 9 3/4 with her own daughter begging her to allow her to go to Hogwarts.
  • A more subtle example: Each book in the Heralds of Valdemar Mage Wars trilogy by Mercedes Lackey and Larry Dixon begins and ends with the same word: "silence" in the first book, "light" in the second, and "freedom" in the third. These might be considered, roughly, Arc Words for each book, at least for the first and last—the first is the story of the "Mage of Silence" who created gryphons, and the third is about the children of two famous characters trying to break free from their parents' expectations and reputations.
  • The His Dark Materials cycle begins and ends with the name of the protagonist: Lyra and her daemon moved through the darkening hall. [...] "The Republic of Heaven," said Lyra.
  • The Hitchhiker's Guide to the Galaxy: All versions begin with the Vogons announcing the impending demolition of Earth to make way for a hyperspace bypass through the Solar System, just so they can put a tick in a box next to this item. In the book series only, the plan was unsuccessful as Earth was on a faulty probability axis, and so the series ends with the Vogons demolishing Earth in EVERY probability and finally putting the tick in the box.
  • The Hobbit begins and ends with Gandalf visiting Bilbo in his home at Bag End.
  • In Hollow Places, both the opening and closing paragraphs state the normality is hard to define. Both the beginning of ending chapters feature Austin leaving his foster home on the way to a new city.
  • The first and last sentences of Isabel Allende's novel The House of the Spirits are exactly the same: "Barrabás came to us by sea...."
  • If You Give a Mouse a Cookie and its derivatives begin with, "If you give an animal X, it'll want Y to go with it." This starts a chain of events that culminates with the animal wanting Y again for whatever reason, leading the story to end with thus: "If you give it Y, it'll want X to go with it."
  • The Iliad begins with the old man Chryses coming from Troy to the Greek camp to ransom his captive daughter Chryseis. It ends with the old man Priam coming from Troy to the Greek camp to ransom the body of his dead son Hector.
  • In Isaac Asimov's short story "In a Good Cause—", there is a short prologue-scene (in italics), of which the first sentence is led into at the end of the main story and repeated verbatim (also in italics).
  • Near the climax of The Inheritance Cycle, Eragon impales Galbatorix on his sword, much like he did Durza at the end of the first book. The phrasing itself is nearly identical.
  • David Alexander Smith's In The Cube begins with Akktri urging the protagonist "My Beverlee, wake up quick-k-k!", and ends with him telling her "Go to sleep, my Beverlee".
  • In Monica Hughes's Invitation to the Game ends with the main character writing the first letter of the story itself.
  • Done again by Geoph Essex in Jackrabbit Messiah: the short first chapter asks a seemingly rhetorical question and hints at the answer, and the last sentence of the book answers it.
  • Kronk begins and ends with Gabriel Crome sharing vodka with the raven.
  • Phedre is sold into slavery to a barbarian ruler with plans of conquest and makes an unplanned attempt to kill him in his sleep, which fails, in Kushiel's Legacy; in Kushiel's Avatar, she intentionally gets herself enslaved by a barbarian ruler with plans of conquest, murders him after gaining his trust, and frees the remainder of his prisoners.
  • Lolita begins (in both the foreword and the novel proper) and later ends on the eponym; the foreword begins, "Lolita, or the Confession of a White Widowed Male, such were the two titles under which the writer of the present note received..."; the novel proper begins, "Lolita, light of my life, fire of my loins. My sin, my soul." and ends "And this is the only immortality you and I may share, my Lolita."
  • Lorien Legacies: Both book one and book six' prologue start with a shaking door.
  • Geoph Essex opens the first chapter and last chapter of Lovely Assistant with deliberately parallel paragraphs: the first takes place on a beach at sunrise, while the last takes place on a different beach at sunset.
  • Love You Forever opens with
    A mother held her new baby and very slowly rocked him back and forth, back and forth, back and forth. And while she held him she sang 'I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be.'
    • and ends with
      Then he went into the room where his very new baby daughter was sleeping. He picked her up in his arms and rocked her, back and forth, back and forth, back and forth, and while he held her he sang 'I'll love you forever, I'll like you for always, as long as I'm living, my baby you'll be.'
  • Loyal Enemies starts and ends with in-universe poems. The first one says that Legend Fades to Myth and great battles will just be dates to people in the future. In the second the narrator states that this might be true, but while she's still here, she's going to make damn sure it's a myth with a happy ending.
  • A Darkling Plain ends with Shrike recounting the opening sentence of the first book in the Mortal Engines series word-for-word.
  • A perfect example would be The Name of the Wind, as the epilogue, and the prologue, named The Silence of Three Parts have the very same descriptions in each of them, only slightly changed to suggest the tone of the book.
  • The Neverending Story: The book begins with a description of viewing the bookstore from the inside looking out the glass door. Bastian then opens the door "violently" causing the bells on the door to ring for a while. It ends with Bastian looking out the same door at his father, opening the door "vigorously" and causing the bells on the door to ring.
    • Smaller versions, relate to the events in the book when the clock chimes in Bastian's world.
      • At 9am, Bastian reads as the four travelers resume their trip to the Ivory Tower. At 9pm, Atreyu and Falkor are traveling to the Ivory Tower.
      • At 10am, Bastian reads as Cairon has just appeared from meeting with the Childlike Emperess. At 10pm, Atreyu first sees the Childlike Emperess.
      • At 11am, Bastian reads as Atreyu accepts his mission from Cairon. At 11pm, Atreyu's mission officially ends after his meeting with the Childlike Emperess ends.
  • In Neil Gaiman's Neverwhere, the book begins and ends with Richard going out to a bar with friends, disliking it, going outside, a friend coming out to see him, and something uncanny happening, though the sequence of the last two are reversed.
  • At the beginning of Number the Stars by Lois Lowry, Annemarie is running playfully with her friend on the street. At the end, she's running to deliver a package that will allow the friend's family to escape the Nazis.
  • In Of Mice and Men the book begins in the clearing by the Salinas River. However, at the start, the sun is rising and at the end it is setting.
    • The emotions of the opening and ending scenes by the river are vastly different. At the start, it begins warmly but gets grim as we hear of how the clearing has been worn by humans. At the end, it's devastating, since George ends up killing Lennie there.
  • One Day starts and ends with Emma and Dex's first day together in 1988.
  • The Outsiders end reveals that the book is an nonfiction essay the protagonist wrote for school; it ends with the same sentence as the beginning as he reports that he wrote down "[the first sentence...]".
    "When I stepped out into the bright sunlight from the darkness of the movie house, I had only two things on my mind: Paul Newman and a ride home..."
  • The Pillars of the Earth: The book begins with a hanging, and the second-last scene in the book is another hanging. The first sentence in both scenes is the exact same.
  • Prokleta Avlija begins and ends after friar Petar's funeral.
  • The last section of The Redemption of Althalus has Althalus going back in time to replay the adventure that ended with his meeting Ghend in the first section of the book, and making it end differently this time.
  • Club Gig, a story within the sci-fi anthology Riesel Tales: Two Hunters, begins and ends in the titular club.
  • Robert Harris is fond of Book Ends:
    • Enigma begins and ends with the protagonist arriving at King's College, Cambridge.
    • An Officer and a Spy begins and ends with a major coming to see the French Minister of War. In the beginning it is Picquard, coming to give his report on Dreyfus' degradation for treason to the minister. In the end it is the exonerated and promoted Dreyfus, who comes to see the newly appointed Minister of War - Picquard.
    • In the Cicero trilogy, on the day where Cicero's political career takes off, he gets a young man acquitted of murder by promising the jury that he will enter the army if freed. Cicero can't help laughing when, many years later, he recognizes the leader of the soldiers who has come to kill him.
  • Romance of the Three Kingdoms begins and ends with the same song about the futility of war.
  • In the Second Apocalypse series, the first trilogy, the Prince of Nothing, both begins (after the prologue) and ends with a man going into exile. Because the Dûnyain tolerate no contamination from the outside world, it's made clear that Kellhus can never return; and at the end of the trilogy, Achamian renounces both his School and the Aspect-Emperor, making himself doubly-anathema to the people of the Three Seas. The events of The Aspect-Emperor series (which immediately follows The Prince of Nothing) make the comparison even more apt, although Achamian's journey doesn't begin until some time after the end of the first trilogy: Both men set out on a journey to cross the northern wastes on a quest to learn more about a Dûnyain. Kellhus travels from Ishuäl to the Three Seas to learn about his father, while Achamian travels from the Three Seas to Ishuäl to learn about Kellhus's origins.
  • The Shadow of the Wind begins and ends with almost identical scenes where a man takes his young son to the Cemetery of Forgotten Books.
  • The second Sherlock Holmes novel, The Sign of the Four, begins and ends with Holmes bored and taking cocaine. This is used to underscore the fact that although, as Watson observes, Holmes is the one who "did all the work in this business," he's also the only one who doesn't seem to get anything out of it.
  • Space Marine Battles:
    • Purging of Kadillus begins and ends with a chapter narrated by an Ork.
    • Legion of the Damned begins with an Inquisitor surveying the sea of corpses and (after a novel-long How We Got Here) ends with Captain Kersh being buried in the very same sea of corpses.
  • The first book of The Spirit Thief opens with Eli talking the spirit of a door that's supposed to keep him in into opening. The final book ends with Eli talking the spirit of a door that's supposed to keep him out into opening.
  • The first and last chapters of The Spook's Battle begin with Tom being chased through a wood, but in the former, it's Tom's friend Alice, and it's a training exercise, while in the latter, it's Grimalkin, and for real.
  • Robert A. Heinlein's Starman Jones begins with Max Jones lazing, one sunny evening after finishing his chores, on a slope overlooking the spaced rings of a magnetically levitated supersonic "ring train" waiting for the Tomahawk to shoot through. It ends with assistant astrogator Jones on the same slope waiting for the Tomahawk once more. It's set up so the first paragraph of the last chapter reads as though it was All Just a Dream but then provides a "Where Are They Now?" Epilogue for the story.
  • Starship Troopers, the book, begins with Rico as a soldier being briefed by his lieutenant and preparing for a drop, and ends with Rico as a lieutenant briefing his soldiers for another drop.
  • Star Wars Legends:
  • Stephen King:
    • In The Green Mile, Paul Edgecombe originally bookends the manuscript he's writing, starting and ending with, "This happened in 1932, when the state penitentiary was still at Cold Mountain. And the electric chair, of course." However, the events of the book conspire to have him write of the mouse and his blessing from John Coffey.
    • King does this again in Needful Things, with a narrator telling the reader about the people in town and a new shop that's about to open. At the start of the book, it's Castle Rock, Maine. At the end, it's Junction City, Iowa (the setting for the story "The Library Policeman", in Four Past Midnight).
  • The Tenets of Futilism begins and ends on a 21st of December. In both the first and final paragraphs, the protagonist tells the readers she wants to tell them a happy story.
  • The first book of Jennifer Roberson's Tiger and Del series begins with Del walking into a cantina looking to hire Tiger. One of the last scenes in the fourth book (which was the final one until some years later) begins with Del walking into a cantina looking for Tiger, including the same poetic description of Del, but this time she's here to tell him she's booked a ship and they can go off to their new life together.
  • Titus Groan begins and ends with Mr. Rottcodd's solitude being disturbed, first by Flay's arrival with news of Titus's birth, and again by viewing the aftermath of Titus's Awesome Moment of Crowning through the window.
  • Victoria begins and ends with a female bishop being burned at the stake, for the heresy of claiming to be a bishop while also a woman. The entire book is a How We Got Here story.
  • The Warhammer 40,000 novel Desert Raiders uses the first paragraph of the book in its epilogue to show that a Tallarn regiment had traveled back in time through the Warp to create the very incident they were supposed to be investigating.
  • James Swallow's Warhammer 40,000 novels Deus Encarmine begins on a grave world, and Deus Sanguinius ends on one. Both chapters open with fighting and end with a Blood Angel reflecting in the chapel.
  • Nick Kyme's Warhammer 40,000 novel Salamander opens and ends with the death of their captain from treacherous attacks, and the company's coping with it. Coping better at the end than the beginning.
  • Warrior Cats:
    • The first book, which introduced us to the Warriors world and the main character Firestar, was written by Kate Cary (out of the several authors that make up Erin Hunter). The last book in the main series, The Last Hope, which ends with Firestar's death, was, fittingly, given to Kate to write.
    • The Power of Three story arc (which covers the two series Power of Three and Omen of the Stars) begins with the characters learning the prophecy "There will be three, kin of your kin, who hold the power of the stars in their paws." The final lines of the last book echo this, and the series in general:
    There will be three cats, kin of your kin, with the power of the stars in their paws. They will find a fourth, and the battle between light and dark will be won. A new leader will rise from the shadows of his death, and the Clans will survive beyond the memories of his memories. That is how it has always been, and how it always will be.
  • Watership Down opens with "The primroses were over," and ends with "where the first primroses were beginning to bloom."
  • The Wheel of Time book A Memory of Light closes with an inversion of the opening narration of each book in the series.
    It was not the ending. There are neither beginnings nor endings to the turning of the Wheel of Time. But it was an ending.
  • The beginning of The Will Be Done has Praen coming to the world through a portal, and so does the end epilogue. As well, the end of the main story has him returning through that very same portal.
  • Both Wings of Fire series begin with young dragons being raised in caverns and taught by their elders. However, in the second scenario, the once-students are the teachers (and far more benevolent than their predecessors) and the caves are beautiful and open to the sky. The contrast to the first scenario—which was gloomy and stifling—is lampshaded.
  • The second book of The Witchlands begins with Merik noting that being dead has its advantages and following his POV for a while, before jumping to Vivia standing in anger before the door to the Battle Council. It ends with Vivia standing, happy, in front of the same door and follows her POV for a while before jumping to Merik noting that being alive has its advantages..
  • World War Z: "Don't worry, everything's going to be all right." Initially used by Dr. Kwang Jingshu's friend in an out of character moment to show just how bad the situation has become, it is used again un-ironically by the doctor himself near the end, since he believes everything really will turn out all right.
  • The first arc of Worm ends with the protagonist, Taylor, standing on a rooftop with Armsmaster, the leader of the local Super Team, discussing the options that Taylor has after having single-handedly taken down one of the most powerful supervillains in the city, whose minions will want revenge. At the end of arc twenty-two, after they both have changed so much, the supervillain Skitter stands on a rooftop with the Cyborg superhero Defiant, discussing the options that Skitter has after having killed one of the most powerful superheroes in the world, whose friends will want revenge. The chapter marks the close of Skitter's career as a villain.


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