The Dragon Griaule
by Lucius Shepard
Cover Artist: J.K. Potter
Review by Mel Jacob
Subterranean Press Hardcover ISBN/ITEM#: 9781596064560
Date: 31 May 2012 List Price $45.00 Amazon US / Amazon UK
Acclaimed and award winning author Lucius Shepard offers his short stories and novellas about the Dragon Griaule in one volume. Subterranean Press is publishing the collection and has included brief explanations of the background for each story. Most are rooted in politics and the conditions of life in Latin America or other developing regions as attested by the short Story Notes. Shepard acknowledges that his stories represent political fantasy.
A literate and accomplished writer, Shepard makes the reader accept his world and the strange events that occur there. He has created a fascinating world for his tales of political machinations and strange happenings. The Dragon Griaule casts a baleful influence over the city of Teocinte and its valley even after his long delayed death. This dragon, unlike those found in most fantasy stories, never appears physically active except in the sense of the imagination of people or his disintegration until only his skull remains. Nonetheless, his influence pervades all life and activities within his mental reach.
Each of stories is related primarily through the dragon's influence on its surroundings. The first tale creates the dragon's world and how he was killed at last. The second focuses on the culture and creatures who lived inside the dragon and kept it pest free. "The Father of Stones" concerns an artifact of the dragon and a sensational murder trial. In scenes worthy of Erle Stanley Gardner, a lawyer uncovers the hidden aspects of the crime. "Liar's House", one of the shortest tales, deals with birth of a new dragon or does it? In "The Tamorin Scale", a man and others are transported by Griaule to another place and time. Finally, in "The Skull", a new novel, Griaule is reduced to bones and then to a skull that presides over political change and disruption.
The stories may be enjoyed as pure fantasy or as political metaphors to suit the individual reader. Either way, they are the creation of a master storyteller and present a fascinating world different from the usual fantasy world of dragons.