cover image Beautiful Blood

Beautiful Blood

Lucius Shepard. Subterranean (, $40 (296p) ISBN 978-1-59606-652-6

In 1984, the late Shepard (1943–2014) began telling tales of Teocinte, the city growing in the shadows of the enormous, paralyzed dragon Griaule. Griaule’s 30-year story comes to an end in this novel, which runs parallel to Shepard’s other Griaule stories. Richard Rosacher is a young medical doctor yearning for a better life when he is attacked and injected with a sample of Griaule’s blood. Rosacher uses more of the blood to create the drug mab, which brings him power and wealth while serving Griaule’s greater plans. Following him through several decades and almost as many changes in fate, the novel questions the role of ambition, placing Rosacher in juxtaposition to his various partners and rivals, from his early lover Ludie to the benevolent King Carlos. The bittersweet story never allows Rosacher the option of happiness, but happiness is not something he seeks. Instead, the question before Rosacher is whether his ambition and success can bring him contentment. The volume brings the Griaule cycle to a very satisfying conclusion, leaving the reader wishing that Shepard had lived to tell more tales. (Aug.)