Sometimes part of a book will stay with you, no matter what else you read. You find it sits there, never quite forgotten, sometimes only half remembered.
I read The Dragonbone Chair the year it came out (way back in the 1990s) and this part has stayed with me ever since and coloured my perception of our species. If fiction is about what makes us human, then in a very real sense I feel Tad Williams nailed an aspect of our essential natures.
To put it in context, the heroes are searching for a sword which is meant to be a great defence against a mythological threat known as the Storm King and the humans have been joined by a group of 'Sithi', the settings version of Elves (though written in a far more alien fashion than Elves ever were. At this point they're huddled by the fire and the wolves are howling.
The howling quieted. A long forefinger touched Simon's hand, making him jump.
'Do you listen to the wolves, Seoman?' Jirki asked.
'It's hard n-not to.'
'They sing such fierce songs.' The Sitha shook his head. 'They are like your mortal kind. They sing of where they have been , and what they have seen and scented. They tell each other where the elk are running, and who has taken whom to mate, but mostly they are merely crying "I am! Here I am" ' Jiriki smiled, veiling his eyes as he watched the dying fire.
'And th-that's what you think we ... we m-m-mortals are saying?'
'With words and without them,' the prince responded.
I must admit one thing I like about it is that with the growth of social media and the internet (and especially Twitterstorms and so on) it seems particularly apposite to say that we're all running out shouting 'Here I am'.