Saturday, 26 September 2009

Le Guin on respect

She wanted no more talk of Erreth-Akbe, sensing a danger in the subject. `He was a dragonlord, they say. And you say you're one. Tell me, what is a dragonlord?'

Her tone was always jeering, his answers direct and plain, as if he took her questions in good faith.

`One whom the dragons will speak with,' he said, `that is a dragonlord, or at least that is the centre of the matter. It's not a trick of mastering the dragons, as most people think. Dragons have no masters. The question is always the same, with a dragon: will he talk with you or will he eat you? If you can count upon his doing the former, and not doing the latter, why then you're a dragonlord.'

`Dragons can speak?'

`Surely! In the Eldest Tongue, the language we men learn so hard and use so brokenly, to make our spells of magic and of patterning. No man knows all that language, or a tenth of it. He has not time to learn it. But dragons live a thousand years ... They are worth talking to, as you might guess.'
Ursula K. Le Guin, The Tombs of Atuan, 1971

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