Book Review: The Dinosaur Lords

The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milan

A world made by the Eight Creators on which to play out their games of passion and power, Paradise is a sprawling, diverse, often brutal place. Men and women live on Paradise as do dogs, cats, ferrets, goats, and horses. But dinosaurs predominate: wildlife, monsters, beasts of burden – and of war. Colossal planteaters like Brachiosaurus; terrifying meateaters like Allosaurus and the most feared of all, Tyrannosaurus rex. Giant lizards swim warm seas. Birds (some with teeth) share the sky with flying reptiles that range in size from batsized insectivores to majestic and deadly Dragons.

Like many other readers, when I first stumbled upon the announcement of The Dinosaur Lords I was jumping up and down from excitement. I am a big Jurassic Park fan so having a book written which put the spotlight on dinosaurs, what can be cooler than that? Well nothing basically. Battling dinosaurs in an Epic Historical Fantasy is just awesome. And with the striking cover I would have bought the book just for that! 

The first thing that falls to note when you start reading the book is the chapter introductions. I have to be honest and say that they are the most beautiful illustrations that I have come across in a long while. They depict different dinosaurs in black and white illustrations both with and without riders and various ornaments. Added to the chapter illustrations comes a short introduction to various dinosaurs. How they are named in The Book of True Names, a dinosaur compendium book. These short snippets produced a nice atmosphere regarding the dinosaurs.

The story of The Dinosaur Lords takes place in a alternate world. That of Paradise, a world inspired by the 14th century Europe. Here in the land of Neuvaropa, you find the dinosaurs running along that of humans. The story itself kicks off with an intense battle scene, this is what really put me in the right mood for the remainder of The Dinosaur Lords. Here you already get introduced to several of the characters that you follow for the remainder of the story. It all starts Karyl Bogomirskiy who leads his famed triceratops army into battle against that of Count Jaume Llobregat. This wouldn't be an Epic Fantasy story without some baackstabbing. Karyl gets betrayed and is beaten in battle and if that wasn't enough he gets killed just the same. But not for long... No higher powers are at play and he gets resurrected by an entity know as an Grey Angel, godlike beings. It seems that someone thought that Karyl was meant for higher purposes. Even though Karyl was beaten, it isn't over yet. Karyl meets Rob who is a mercenary dinosaur trainer and together they get recruited into the army to once again fight against the opposition.  Jaume and his righthand man Falk von Hornberg return victorious from there battle to have Jaume's fiancee Melodia. Melodia is growing increasingly anxious with the ongoing battles that Jaume is going out on. She would much prefer it all to stop. Women are looked onto in some what of a different way, Melodia is bored out of her mind. Perhaps she wants to go out explore and see the world but she is held back. And thus a war starts within the courts and outside of it, as well as some of the higher powers meddling in certain affairs. Does this mean that the fates have already been sealed? 

When you look at the different characters of the story there are the four that I mentioned above that readily have the focus placed upon them. The characters themselves are actually quite diverse. First you have Rob Korrigan who is the rogue of the party. An mercenary dinosaur trainer. I liked him a lot actually, he has something working in his character a bit of a naivety, curiosity and trusting nature to him especially in the way he first pursues Karyl. Then there is Karyl. The minor duke who has died twice but lives again to tell the tale. In the first encounters he is a tough man but his resurrections have changed him. Of course revenge is always best served cold or hot doesn't really matter as long as he gets it. Just as well as with Rob character I liked Karyl a lot as well probably owing to the fact that there storyline is intermingled not long after the start of The Dinosaur Lords. Then there is Jaume, though he makes up in backdrop for a really interesting character, the eloquent flamboyant Lord I somehow couldn't quite connect with the guy. Last there is Melodia, her part was just filled with intrigue and other courtly crimes. Melodia is the only female character that gets a full focus on. In the wake of the strong male characters she was a bit undervoiced, with all that she has gone through it all could have been a bit better developed. I do think that Melodia still has a lot of potential that could blossom in the sequels to come. 

What makes The Dinosaur Lords a pretty darn cool is the fact that dinosaurs in every shape, size and form run around, controlled or uncontrolled. The different armies, lords and rulers all use different dinosaurs in battle ranging from Allosauruses to Tyrannosauruses and much more. You can clearly see that Victor Milan has put a lot of effort in depicting in their natural ways and of course when it goes down in battle. When the battle gets heated it is usually the guy who rides the biggest dinosaur with the biggest and meanest teeth that wins. More than one time a soldier lost a limb due to the hungry beasts. The scenes aren't overkill at all, I have to admit that I didn't know all the dinosaurs by heart so I googled them when I was reading the book and even though I saw just one picture, they were vividely animated in my mind when I read the various fighting scenes. Very cool stuff. And the knights on top of the beasts really finish everything off. 

Added to this comes a very nice world building. Paradise might have the name of a paradise but it proven to be far from it. Not everything is roses and sunshine. There are elements that feel like the 14th century. The regal influences of the different king and dukedoms truly comes to life. 

The ending of the book is what really got me fired up once more. Remember the Grey Angels? BAM! Godlike beings that have influences, it makes you wonder what has been set into motion already and how far people can control there own actions. Very nice. 

Here is my nag for the book. Just past the halfway mark of the book there is quite a heavy scene including rape that felt for me too much. The book is advertised with Game of Thrones meets Jurassic Park but this scene was too much for me. I am not shy for these kind of scenes but in the backdrop of the whole build up of the story it felt just not right. 

The Dinosaur Lords is a book for every dinosaur fan. Luckily Victor Milan came up with the idea to mash up historical fantasy/ epic fantasy with dinosaurs. (why wasn't this done before!). He created the perfect setting for an intriguing story to play down with dinosaurs gate crashing and party crashing more than once. These brutal animals though aren't always violent. The knights that ride these being into battle control them to the fullest and put on quite the display when it comes to fighting one another. 

Comments

  1. I agree, the rape scene did stand out. It wasn't a show stopper for me, but it did seem out of place with the tone/feel of the rest of the story. All in all, this was exactly what I was hoping for. I know it didn't work for some readers, but Ioved it and can't wait for the sequel.

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