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.
Thus we are plunged into Victor Milán’s splendidly weird world of The Dinosaur Lords, a place that for all purposes mirrors 14th century Europe with its dynastic rivalries, religious wars, and byzantine politics…and the weapons of choice are dinosaurs. Where we have vast armies of dinosaur-mounted knights engaged in battle. And during the course of one of these epic battles, the enigmatic mercenary Dinosaur Lord Karyl Bogomirsky is defeated through betrayal and left for dead. He wakes, naked, wounded, partially amnesiac – and hunted. And embarks upon a journey that will shake his world.
Title: The Dinosaur Lords
Author: Victor Milán
Category: Adult Fiction
Genre: High/Epic Fantasy
Publication Date: July 28, 2015
Format: NetGalley Excerpt
Length: 166 pages (out of 448 pages)
Series or Standalone: The Dinosaur Lords #1
Literary Awards: N/A
Themes: Court Politics, History vs. Mythology
POV: Third Person, Multiple POVs
Tense: Past Tense
Reviewer: Atsiko Ureni
Where I Got It: Net Galley
Why I Read It: Knights riding dinosaurs, of course.
1. World-building: The world-building in the story largely consists of imposing 14th-century Europe on an extra-terrestrial planet with populated by dinosaurs. Clear alternate names for European countries and various aspects of society. Kind of an alternate history with an extra-terrestrial twist. Not the most original, but it does have the advantage of thousands of pounds of lizard-flesh to liven things up!
2. Characters: There are three main characters in the story: Imperial Princess Melodia, referred to affectionately by her friends as “Dia”; Count Jaume, head of a Holy Order of Dinosaur Knights; and Rob, an on-the-outs dino-tamer with little to lose and a lot of money to gain. Jaume is your standard martial hero. Good with a sword, but a bit one-note personality-wise. We probably could have skipped most of his sections. Melodia wasn’t particularly intriguing, either. A spoiled teenage girl, though apparently quite skilled in the martial arts. Rob was a bit more interesting. If nothing else, his stakes were a lot higher. But again, no major swerves from your standard minstrel. The minor characters don’t do much to make up for the lack in our protagonists. The real star here is Dia’s younger sister, whose name I will not embarrass myself by trying to spell. Never has an annoying little sister been so fun.
3. Story: The story itself is nothing special, either. The standard political shenanigans. Quite exciting, and lots of action, of course. The book was published for a reason. If politics and fighting s your thing, this is definitely the book for you. Who could resist jousting on Trexes and hunting Triceratops like a common boar?
4. Writing: Is this the next Game of Thrones, but with dinos? Not even. But it’s quite well-written, and the prose does nothing to get in the way of a rollicking good yarn, as it were. The characters come to life, whether or not you care for them as people. It can’t quite overcome the conventional story elements, but it does keep the book readable and fun.
5. Extras: The book uses chapter-starters, as has become popular in SFF novels lately. In this cases, excerpts from two books about the world of the story, Paradise. They come with beautiful ink drawings. Definitely something I enjoyed, as insubstantial as they may be in comparison to the rest of the book.
Please keep in mind I am reviewing an excerpt consisting of only a third of the full book. But I think that after 166 pages, it’s still a pretty accurate analysis.
Conclusion: 57/100 (Readable but average)
Premise: 5/10 (Dinos are the only saving grace)
Plot: 5/10 (Interesting, but predictable)
Setting: 5/10 (Score another for the dinos)
Main Character(s): 7/10 (Well-written, but limited in depth)
Romance Subplot: 6/10 (Well-drawn, but predictable)
World-building: 5/10 (Pedestrian, if well-detailed)
Supporting Characters: 5/10 (Same as for main)
Writing: 8/10 (Skilled if not brilliant)
Themes: 4/10 (Lightly touched-on, insufficiently explored)
Resolution: 7/10 (For a cliffhanger. If the true ending is half as good? It’ll be fun.)
Buy Or Borrow: Buy if you love military fantasy and giant dinosaurs. Maybe borrow if that’s not your cup of tea but you still want to give the book a shot.