Review of The Dinosaur Lords

dinosaur lordsThe first thing that drew me to The Dinosaur Lords, written by Victor Milan, was the cover. As you read this, you all might be thinking about that old saying about how you should never judge a book by its cover. However, it’s always been my thinking that a good book deserves a good cover. If the author took the time and care to pen the adventure, then why would the author want that masterpiece wrapped in a cover that’s anything less than a masterpiece? It is a beautiful cover. The cover, done by Artist Richard Anderson, displays a medieval looking knight with a lance sitting atop what looks to be a velociraptor. The beast is all claws and teeth with a harness wrapped around its deadly jaws. The second thing that caught my eye was the quote by George R.R. Martin underneath Milan’s name that states “It’s like a cross between Jurassic Park and Game of Thrones.” Both novels being favorites of mine, I didn’t think I’d be wasting money purchasing this thick paperback novel.

In all fairness to Milan, I didn’t waste my money. It was a decent read. However, it wasn’t as good as Jurassic Park and Game of Thrones either. What Martin said in his book blurb was accurate though. It was a combination between the two books in the sense that it was medieval knights, political intrigue, and dinosaurs. What I would have liked to see more of was the character development that makes Game of Thrones one of my favorite book series.

The quality of writing was almost flawless. Milan expertly crafts a unique fantasy realm that is both intricate and intriguing. Light on the magical, the world utilizes more sword and spears than it does wizards and wands. The amount of detail that Milan writes rivals that of George R.R. Martin. At the beginning of each chapter, Milan has an entry from one of the many fictitious tomes that are part of the fantasy world of Paradise. These entries serve to provide added details that aid the reader’s immersion.

The main drawback to this novel is the development of the characters. Where George R.R. Martin can switch from character to character with ease, Milan seems to have a difficulty. There are a handful of characters with their own storylines. The problem with the storylines is that there’s only one that I found interesting and it wasn’t even integral to the overall story until the last fifty pages. This lack of interest caused me to pause and set the book down.

While the creation of the interesting world, the detailed characters, the inclusion of dinosaurs used as war weapons are interesting elements, but it doesn’t compensate for the boring storylines of the characters. While I don’t believe that this book was a waste of money, after reading it I won’t be purchasing its sequel.

Review of “Dragon Teeth”

While perusing the book aisle of Wal-Mart one night, I was stopped by the cover of a horse mounted rider on top of a humongous dinosaur skull. The book was called Dragon Teeth. When I first saw it I thought that it looked like the cover of Jurassic Park by Michael Crichton. Then I noticed that the author of the book was in fact Michael Crichton. I both was intrigued and saddened. For those that might not know, Michael Crichton has been dead since 2008. Since his death, he has published three novels including  Pirate Latitudes (2009), Micro (2011), and Dragon Teeth in 2017.

DragonTeeth-Cover-LiveWhile Pirate Latitudes was very good, I was really let down by Micro. While Pirate Latitudes was found in manuscript form, it was still essentially completed by Crichton himself. In the case of Micro, this was not the case. It was found only roughly 33 percent completed and had to be completed by Author Richard Preston. While Preston is a decent author, Micro was still two-thirds Preston and not Crichton. And you could tell. So when I saw that Dragon Teeth had been published, I was a little more than nervous about reading it. The prospect of another tale about dinosaurs written by Crichton swayed me into placing it into my shopping cart.

When I got home, I started reading the book and found out that it wasn’t exactly another tale about the dangers of cloning dinosaurs and putting them in cages so that people might get to watch them. Dragon Teeth is a tale set during the Bone Wars in 1876 and centers around the rich and snobby Yale student William Johnson. Johnson talks his way into a bet that has him spending a summer with Othniel Charles Marsh, a professor and paleontologist. What Johnson doesn’t know is that Marsh is in a heated battle of his own against rival Paleontologist Edward Drinker Cope. Johnson must face betrayal, love, and even death as he attempts to survive his trip into the wild west.

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Othniel Charles Marsh (left) and Edward Drinker Cope (right). Photo Credit: click here.

What I love about this book is the amount of detail Crichton puts into each of the historical characters and settings he uses. Both Marsh and Cope were enemies in real life and did engage in the Bone War, a search for dinosaur bones. Along the way, Crichton also integrates other historical figures including George Custer, Robert Louis Stevenson, and Wyatt Earp.

The description that Crichton uses to describe the harsh sands or the way Johnson proves a murder is remarkable. It’s almost as if you are watching a documentary instead of reading a historical fiction novel.

The plot itself didn’t seem to lag either. Johnson was thrown from one predicament to the next and it always was entertaining trying to see how he got himself out of them.

The protagonist of the novel, Johnson, was one that I didn’t like at first. He was a snobby elitist that came from a family of money and wasn’t really keen on using his family’s riches to learn anything form Yale. Over the course of the story, you see Johnson grow as a person. You see him taking a stand in causes he believes in, learning an honest living, and what it means to be a man during the wild west. As a reader, you also transform from a reader that wants him to be killed off to a reader that’s rooting for him to get back home in one (more or less) piece.

Overall, there wasn’t much that I disliked about the novel. I would recommend this book for anyone that enjoys historical fiction as well as those that enjoy western books about gunfighting and treasure hunting.