The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milán | July 2015 | Tor Books | Hardcover $26.99
This review is based on an e-ARC from the publisher via Edelweiss. The book is due to be published July 28, 2015.
★ ★ ★
I wish I liked this book more than I did.
Come on, it's a high fantasy set in a world where people ride DINOSAURS into battle (and keep them as pets and have otherwise domesticated them). Knights in shining armor who ride goddamn dinosaurs... what's not to love?
Well, several things, TBQH....
Despite my everlasting passion for epic high fantasy stories, I'm not really a big fan of most battle scenes -- and this book (especially at the beginning) involves several of them.
Most of the characters seemed flat to me. A couple of them did get to be more compelling as the story went on, but I really couldn't make myself care about the fate of most of them. Even the main female character, the emperor's daughter, seemed more like a vehicle for romance and court intrigue than a fully fleshed out character at first, although I do think she improved as the book went on.
(And I'm feeling pretty generous right now, so I won't go on a rant about my frustration with yet another epic fantasy that features only a single, somewhat boring female POV character. You're welcome.)
- - -
The world this book is set in is literally called Paradise. There doesn't seem to be much in the way of disease or natural disasters as far as I can tell, and humans can live to be over 300 years old. The danger is all either human-to-human or supernatural-to-human. I'm not sure why, but this rubbed me the wrong way.
That said, I did like the sort of alternative history -- the book is basically set in a Europe where Spain, now called the Empire of Nuevaropa, basically took over everything and other countries are either subject to it or part of its empire. England, now Anglaterra, is called "Pirate Island" in a nod to its past attempts to defeat the Spanish fleet at sea. I liked that characters come from all over this version of Europe, too.
(Again, I'm feeling generous so we can skip over the rant about why we might not need yet another alterna-Europe high fantasy story....)
- - -
Lest ye think I'm complaining to much to justify the 3-star rating, I do want to point out some of the good stuff:
What it lacks in character detail/originality, it makes up for in setting detail/originality. This book includes a fully fleshed out world and I was delighted by all the little tidbits of dino biology and the history of the various nations.
The pacing is nearly perfect, too. Even though this book is well over 400 pages, not a single bit of it drags and I never felt like I might get too bored to finish. So despite my complaints above, I read the whole thing and mostly enjoyed it!
I also really liked the artwork by Richard Anderson. Each chapter is preceded by a lovely illustration as well as a short definition of particular dinosaur species.
Dinosaur Lords is the first in a series. Will I read the following books? I don't know yet. I won't say no, but I'm not just bouncing off the walls in anticipation, either.
Hit these links to learn more:
- Victor Milán's official website
- Richard Anderson's official website
- First chapter available free at Tor.com
- Other Tor.com articles tagged for this book
Publication information: Milán, Victor. The Dinosaur Lords. New York: Tor Books, 2015. EPUB.
Source: Electronic format review copy provided by publisher via Edelweiss.
Disclaimer: I am not compensated, monetarily or otherwise, for reviews of books or other products.