Review: The Dragon Griaule by Lucius Shepard

Lovely Melfka lent me this one – thank you very much, I owe you again!


A large dragon is lying paralyzed on a plain in the Carbonales Valley. Its body grows bigger and bigger but is not longer active. Its brain, though, is quite another matter. It is said the dragon can think, plan and influence your thoughts. It can make people do what it wants them to do.

People fear him and are fascinated by him. Some of them chip his scales away and sell them. Some climb its back in order to glance into its eye, get into a trance and see a fascinating display of their own hopes and fears. What are the plans of Griaule itself? Is it really able to manipulate animals and people around him? How long can it live? Is there any hope it will be killed one day?

My impressions:

Strangely for me the biggest asset and the biggest fault of this book was Giraule himself. A dragon like no other- very old, very nasty, with an intelligent mind and a lot of angst boiling inside its immobilized, overgrown body. You have to admit it’s not typical, such a lack of action around a dragon. Apart from that anger without any outlet is a very dangerous thing. It creates a dark, even fatalistic atmosphere: people come and go with their romances, dreams and petty rivalries, but Griaule perseveres, he has to. Well, almost perseveres – he remains immobile, right? He cannot fly, cannot hunt…still, there are people around Griaule – weak, conceited but rather resourceful creatures whose little lives are traced by Shepard. The dragon has to use them, there are no other options. Still is he able to understand them at all?

I wish he had; still the author decided to focus more on people than on Giraule. While I admired the elegance of such a solution, offering several stories instead of one, all coming with the common background of the ominous presence of the dragon, at some point I wanted to hear the voice of Giraule himself, his POV. And I didn’t get it. Oh, by the way, here are the titles of all the stores which at first were published as separate novellas and now are presented (very wisely) in one tome :

  • The Scalehunter’s Beautiful Daughter
  • The Father of Stones
  • The Man Who Painted the Dragon Griaule
  • Liar’s House
  • The Taborin Scale
  • The Skull

Out of these POVs which I got I liked two stories the best:  the tragic story of a thug, Hota, and the she-dragon, Magali, he fell in love with (“Liar’s House”) and “The Man Who Painted the Dragon Griaule,” the classic account of an artist—Meric Cattanay—and his decades long effort to paint—and kill—a dormant dragon measuring 6,000 feet from end to end. Can love explain everything, even a mass murder? Where art ends and the murder begins? If you want to find out, read these stories *evil laugh* 🙂

Apart from that I can only join the chorus of numerous admirers: the prose was indeed wonderful, the setting beautiful, and the characters realistic, including the dragon. Just imagine how good it would be if Giraule was given a chance to wake up from his stupor!

Final verdict:

A bizarre but brilliant collection of stories; also a highly enjoyable reading experience for me. I find it completely recommendable to any fantasy fans and also those readers who just like good stories with a paranormal bend.

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10 Responses to Review: The Dragon Griaule by Lucius Shepard

  1. blodeuedd says:

    Ohh, I actually like that cover

  2. Carole Rae says:

    ooooooooooh sounds like something I’d like.
    I do love me some dragons.

  3. heidenkind says:

    Perhaps the dragon will awake in future stories?

    • I don’t think so but you never know 🙂

      • Melfka says:

        I don’t think so either, because of what happens in “The Man Who Painted the Dragon Griaule” story (my favorite, by the way). Also, in a way, I found it the biggest asset that the Dragon is there, forever lurking in the shadows of people’s thoughts: they forget about him, his presence and influence, but they still fall for his manipulation.

        (By the way, glad you enjoyed the book, Ana 🙂 )

      • I enjoyed it indeed and I appreciated the presence of the dragon till its bitter end (or even longer). Still, having watched one action movie too many, I sometimes wished the dragon to move. Or snap. I know, I am a heathen and a philistine. ;p

      • Melfka says:

        Hey, in the first book his heart had a beat. Well, *a* beat. 😀

      • Right. A beat. Just that. Not enough for a dragon.

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