Near the beginning of Martin's "Dying of the Light" novel, there is the following passage:

Behind it was a stillness and a smoky darkness, an unmoving curtain that hid the farther stars. A cloud of dust and gas, he thought. The Tempter's Veil.

The beginning came long after the end: a whisperjewel. It was wrapped in layers of silver foil and soft dark velvet, just as he had given it to her years before. He undid its package that night, sitting by the window of his room that overlooked the wide scummy canal where merchants poled fruit barges endlessly up and down.

I spent a long time on this, but I can't make any sense of "The beginning came long after the end". What does Martin mean by this sentence?

2 Answers 2


The whisperjewel is a piece of jewelry. He has given it to her - presumably at the start of a romantic relationship. From the passage, we do not know more about her.

Further reading shows that this jewel came back into the possession of the protagonist.

The relationship has ended, it's over. But the piece of jewelry reminds him of the beginning of that relationship, he reminisces. Hence the beginning (the jewelry and associated memories) came long after the end (of the relationship).

  • This is what it means? Are you sure?
    – Peter Shor
    Commented Dec 4, 2017 at 21:54
  • @PeterShor If you have a better interpretation, feel free to provide it.
    – Polygnome
    Commented Dec 4, 2017 at 22:03

The beginning is the beginning of the chain of events related in the novel Dying of the Light.

The end is the end of the relationship with the woman he gave the whisperjewel to.

To me, it's not clear at all whether Martin intends you to understand this passage completely at this point in the novel.

  • 1
    Care to elaborate? Why do you think its the beginning of the chain of events of the novel? What do you think the whole passage means?
    – Polygnome
    Commented Dec 4, 2017 at 22:04
  • (1) The passage is very near the beginning of the novel. (2) The novel is told more or less from the viewpoint of Dirk, and if Dirk hadn't received the whisperjewel, he never would have gone to Worlorn, most of the events in the novel would never have happened, and they certainly wouldn't have happened to Dirk. (3) What else could it possibly be the beginning of?
    – Peter Shor
    Commented Dec 4, 2017 at 23:29
  • 2
    I don't know what the downvoter thinks is wrong with the answer. True, it's not a very deep and literarily meaningful explanation, but in this case I'm not sure there is one.
    – Peter Shor
    Commented Jan 5, 2018 at 18:19

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