three rules of the Librarians of Time and Space are: 1) Silence; 2) Books must be returned no later than the last date shown; and 3) Do not interfere with the nature of causality.

In the Ramtop village where they dance the real Morris dance, for example, they believe that no one is finally dead until the ripples they cause in the world die away-until the clock he wound up winds down, until the wine she made has finished its ferment, until the crop they planted is harvested. The span of someone’s life, they say, is only the core of their actual existence.

Om rubed his head. This wasn’t god-like thinking. It seemed simpler when you were up here. It was all a game. You forgot that it wasn’t a game down there. People died. Bits got chopped off. We’re like eagles up here, he thought. Sometimes we show tortoise how to fly. Then we let go.

feeling the point of the sword scrape along his ribs. At the other end of the blade he recognized Stren Withel – thief, cruel swordsman, disgruntled contender for the title of worst man in the world.

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