Friday, September 11, 2015

The Dinosaur Lords

by Victor Milán

Summary from GoodReads

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.

Thoughts on the Book

I've been looking forward to this book from the second I found out about it.  Medieval knights riding dinosaurs, what could be better?  Plus the blurb from George R.R. Martin - "It's like a cross between Jurassic Park and Game of Thrones" seriously, what could be better?  I love both of those series (yes the books, no not the movies/tv show).  I had pre-ordered this book and got it the day it came out.

My Review

This book follows three characters, Karyl, Jaume, and Melodía.  Karyl, right at the beginning, dies during a battle due to a head wound.  He wakes and is chased, his left (dominate) hand is cut off and he flings himself to death off of a cliff.  We finally see him later suffering from headaches, night terrors, and crippled, when he finally starts his journey with Rob, a dinosaur trainer.  Jaume and Melodíare "betrothed", it's not official, but everyone knows that they will marry.  Melodía's father just needs to stop sending Jaume away to battle.  

I really enjoyed this book.  The world was awesome, I'm intrigued as to how people got to Paradise - can I just comment on the world's name, Paradise?  How awesome is that?  You're living with dinosaurs and magic, so of course it's paradise.  But it's also so ironic with the wars and everything going on.  I digress, I also loved how he gave us tidbits about the history of Paradise in the blurbs in the chapter titles.  He also did lessons on dinosaurs (which I, of course, looked up and every single one of them had existed on Earth at some point) as well as deities.  It was such a cool way to world build that didn't bog the story down with information.  Speaking of the chapter titles and the blurbs, those drawings are so cool.  The artist that designed the cover and those doodles, amazing.

As for the characters, Karyl is awesome, I love him.  He's such a cool character, so stoic.  I especially love the change of character for him that happened between when we first saw him on the battlefield and the Karyl that we meet juggling on the street.  Through Karyl's own admission we learn that the man he was before wasn't as good as the man he is now. 

I also loved Jaume, he has great philosophies that we learn about later in the novel, and he's an all around good person.  He feels bound by duty and will never betray those he serves, which isn't such a great trait since it puts him in a bad place to keep warring when he doesn't want to.

Melodía I'm not so fond of, at least until the end of the story.  She so entitled and thinks she's so much better and smarter than everyone else because she's the princess.  What happens to her in the end is absolutely horrible, but the resolution of that made her realize how stuck up she'd been, and the book ends with her starting to turn a new leaf.

For the two main secondary characters, Falk and Rob, I like them both - as characters.  Falk is intriguing, I can't wait to find out more about him in the next book.  Then there's Rob, I have mixed feelings about him, I partially like him a lot, but then I get annoyed by him too, some of the prose about him seems forced, like Milán had an idea for the character and as Rob grew he kept trying to force him into this other character.  The parts where the real Rob shone through I liked a lot, but the other parts not so much.

One more thing that I absolutely loved about the book was the dinosaurs.  Milán did his research on them, he even kept up with the current theories.  These aren't the dinosaurs a la Jurassic Park, they're closer to the dinosaurs that did exist.  They are more like birds, they have feathers. I also loved that the dinosaur knights did not ride the raptor dinosaurs except for very few, they mostly rode duckbills.  Those that did ride raptors found them as they hatched and were impressed on by the dinosaur.  I love the two sections from Shiraa's point of view that she thinks of Karyl as mother.

I did have a couple problems with the book.  The main one being what the hell is that map in the beginning?  Seriously, I don't give a damn about what the capitol looks like, they're only ever in the Firefly Palace, and it's only Melodía who is there, though Jaume shows up briefly.  Everything else takes place well away from there, and there's absolutely no context where they are in relation to each other.  

My other issue was the pacing.  It was difficult to get engrossed in the story, it kept flipping between 3 stories that didn't really relate to each other (I'm assuming that's a 'yet', I'm sure they'll all tie in together in future books).  The most annoying part of this was that it didn't switch per chapter like most other stories, but within the same chapter it would flip flop between characters in completely different areas.  It was so difficult to follow, especially Jaume's storyline since there were so many supporting characters for him I had such a hard time figuring out who was who, and when the perspective switched to Jaume's story and it didn't mention him right away I had no idea what story was being told, I thought it was a new one.

Overall I give this book an 8.5/10.  The story itself was great, I loved the characters and I loved the world.  The map really bothered me and the pacing made it extremely difficult to get fully engrossed in the story.  If the pacing/perspectives had been done better this definitely would've gotten a 10/10.

No comments:

Post a Comment