Reviews Logo
SearchHomeContents PageSite Map
The Taborin Scale: A Novella of the Dragon Griaule
Lucius Shepard
Subterranean Press, 103 pages

The Taborin Scale
Lucius Shepard
Lucius Shepard was born in Lynchburg, Virginia, in 1947. He has travelled extensively in Latin America, the Caribbean, Europe and Asia. He lives in Seattle. Mr Shepard has won a number of World Fantasy Awards including one for his collection The Jaguar Hunter. As well, he has won the Hugo, Nebula and Locus Awards.

ISFDB Bibliography
SF Site Review: The Best of Lucius Shepard
SF Site Review: Life During Wartime
SF Site Review: Two Trains Running
SF Site Review: Louisiana Breakdown
SF Site Review: Louisiana Breakdown
SF Site Review: Green Eyes
SF Site Review: Colonel Rutherford's Colt
SF Site Review: Beast of the Heartland

Past Feature Reviews
A review by Rich Horton

Over the decades, some of Lucius Shepard's most popular tales have featured an immense dragon named Griaule, who lays, perhaps sleeping, perhaps dead, next to the city Teocinte. Griaule is both a sinister and dangerous figure -- in part merely because of his size and the fact that he's a dragon, but in part for what might be called psychic reasons -- and a benefit to the locals, mainly as a tourist attraction.

The latest -- and possibly, given the events of the story, though not by any means certainly, last -- of Shepard's Griaule tales is The Taborin Scale. This concerns a coin collector named George Taborin, a mostly rather stolid man, who periodically escapes his unfaithful wife to visit Teocinte, and engage in some infidelity himself. On one such trip he comes into possession of a dragon scale -- purportedly one of Griaule's, though it is rather unusual. He trades it to a whore named Sylvia for the extended use of her talents. But then, by some agency of the scale, the two are transported to another time or dimension, evidently the same physical location as Teocinte, but wilderness instead of city, and dominated not by the dead or sleeping Griaule but a much younger version of the dragon. Over an extended period, George and Sylvia perforce learn to survive, eventually adopting a teenaged girl who had been abused by her previous "family." All along they realize that they must be here for some reason of Griaule's, and the narrative tends inevitably towards the revelation of Griaule's strange purpose.

That's more or less all there is to it. As with many Shepard stories, I did find it a bit too long. But for all that the telling is involving throughout, it's enjoyable reading. Shepard's imagination is always equal to gifting the reader with an intriguing set of images. And as often he has a somewhat transcendent conclusion in view -- and here the conclusion is more convincing, more effective, than sometimes. I found the characters interesting if slightly offputting -- though I hasten to add that the offputting nature of the characters seems honest and believable, not just attitude. (I might quibble that the George Taborin we are introduced to in the opening paragraphs bears little resemblance to the George Taborin who occupies most of the book, however.) It's not a great novella, and it's not my favorite Griaule story (that would be "The Scalehunter's Beautiful Daughter"), but The Taborin Scale is a quite satisfactory outing.

Copyright © 2010 Rich Horton

Rich Horton is an eclectic reader in and out of the SF and fantasy genres. He's been reading SF since before the Golden Age (that is, since before he was 13). Born in Naperville, IL, he lives and works (as a Software Engineer for the proverbial Major Aerospace Company) in St. Louis area and is a regular contributor to Tangent. Stop by his website at

SearchContents PageSite MapContact UsCopyright

If you find any errors, typos or anything else worth mentioning, please send it to
Copyright © 1996-2014 SF Site All Rights Reserved Worldwide