Fantasy Masterworks 53 The Dragon Griaule by Lucius Shepard

Fantasy Masterworks 53 The Dragon Griaule by Lucius Shepard

Author:Lucius Shepard [Shepard, Lucius]
Language: eng
Format: epub
Publisher: Great Britain in 2013
Published: 0101-01-01T00:00:00+00:00




Chapter One

If a man can be measured by the size of his obsessions, George Taborin might have been said to be a very small man, smaller even than the quarter-men rumored to inhabit the forests of Tasmania. He was a numismatist by trade, by avocation a lover of rare and ancient coins, and he spent his days cataloguing, cleaning, and in contemplation of such coins, picturing as he did the societies whose lifeblood they had emblematized. Rubbing the face of Ptolemy, for instance, on a silver drachma found in Alexandria, struck at the approximate time of the invasion of Cyprus by Demetrios Poliokortes (probably in Salamis, the last city to fall to the Besieger), would conjure not merely the historical context of the Roman empire and Ptolemaic Egypt, but brought visions so vivid that he imagined he felt the weight of an armored breastplate on his chest or caught the scent of naphtha from an arrow dipped in Greek fire smoldering in its victim’s flesh. It was as if the ball of his thumb stirred the energies of the coin, releasing some essence of the moments through which it had passed, and it had been thus ever since his sixth birthday when his uncle gave him a Phoenician copper as a present.

From this you might suppose George, in his fortieth year, to have been a fastidious, obsessive little man given to wool-gathering, with spectacles and a potbelly and few close friends, his minimal life partitioned into orderly sections like the trays whereon he displayed the best of his collection. You would have been correct in this assessment save for one thing: George Taborin was not little. He stood a hand’s breadth over six feet, more if you measured from the peak of his coarse black hair, which tended to arrange itself into spiky growths when left unwashed, causing it to be said that if George ran into you while walking with his head down (as was his habit), you would be fortunate to survive the encounter without a puncture or two. Thanks to his parents, a farm couple who had viewed him less as a beloved addition to the family than as child labor, he was powerfully built; his sedentary occupation had eroded his strengths and softened his mid-section, but not so much that he was often challenged – he had earned a schoolyard reputation for toughness and durability in a fight and that reputation clung to him yet. He had a slightly undershot chin, a straight nose whose only notable quality was that it was too big for his face, and a mouth through which he was prone to breathe due to a persistent sinus condition (for all that, his was a face that missed being handsome by an ounce here, a centimeter there, and might have passed muster had there been more self-confidence underlying it). These features conspired with his bulk to lend him a doltish aspect, like a gangling idiot boy thickened into a man. When gazing


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