Book Review: The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milán

A review copy was provided by the publisher in exchange for an honest review. All opinions are my own.

The Dinosaur LordsThe Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milán

Genre: Fantasy

Series: Book 1 of The Dinosaur Lords

Publisher: Tor (7/28/15)

Author Information: Website | Twitter

Mogsy’s Rating: 4 of 5 stars

Ever wondered what a tournament joust would look like, if both opponents were charging full-tilt towards each other while mounted on three tons of bellowing hadrosaurus? Honestly, I can’t say I have. But Victor Milán has shown me the light, and it is glorious.

Knights and dinosaurs. Tell me you can resist that, because I know I couldn’t.

The Dinosaur Lords takes place in the Empire of Neuvaropa, a fictional land reminiscent of 14th century Europe. The story opens with a great battle. Famed noble captain Karyl Bogomirskiy and his mercenary Triceratops army (though Karyl himself rides Shiraa the magnificent matador, an Allosaurus) are betrayed and then promptly crushed by the forces of Count Jaume Llobregat and Duke Falk von Hornberg. Karyl dies and is resurrected — twice, actually – and eventually joins up with dinosaur master Rob Korrigan to travel to Providence, where they are recruited by the adherents of the Garden of Truth and Beauty to defend their lands and train their troops.

Meanwhile in the capital, the princess Melodía awaits the return of her lover Jaume from his campaign. She becomes increasingly concerned over the war, as well as the rivalries and intrigues within her father’s court. It is especially troubling, given how easily influenced the emperor can be without the presence of his right hand man. Furthermore, unbeknownst to all, the Eight Creator’s mysterious cadre of Grey Angels stand witness to the games of power playing out before them – watching…and waiting.

This is a fantastic introduction to a new series featuring engaging characters and a fun and addictive story. But let’s first talk about the dinosaurs, and about how they make everything better. If that’s what initially drew you to The Dinosaur Lords, you’re probably not alone; I myself confess that they were the huge driving force behind me finally breaking down and requesting a copy of this for review. And yet, the presence of dinos is far from being just a shtick to draw attention. Milán has deftly integrated them fully into the fantasy world of his novel, portraying his vision of a human culture that evolved side-by-side with these creatures.

Not surprisingly, a myriad species of dinosaurs in this story have been domesticated by people for different uses, including but not limited to food, beasts of burden, beloved companions, and of course, prized mounts. Ultimately, dinosaurs are undeniably an integral part the characters’ everyday lives – their folklore, their traditions and even their metaphors. They’re so ubiquitous that a lot of the time, you forget they’re even there, so seamlessly are they incorporated into the world-building. As you can imagine, there are endless possibilities when it comes to the role of dinosaurs in a medieval-like setting. The author explores many of them, and as a result, we readers win. I was especially impressed and thrilled by the battle scenes involving the mounted cavalr—er, dinosaurry. To paraphrase Jaume, a knight’s greatest weapon is his war-dinosaur, and vice versa.

By the way, have I mentioned the beautiful flavor artwork that adorns the first page of each chapter?

triceratopsdinosaur raptor

Interior art by Richard Anderson, these and more originally featured at tor.com

Featuring a huge variety of species, this book will be a real treat for any dinosaur lover. And you can imagine my relief to have my kid’s Big Book of Dinosaurs on hand to look up the “true names” of all those described in these pages.

I could probably go on at length about the dinosaurs, but of course this isn’t just all about them. For once a cover blurb actually rings true for me after I read the book. Within the first handful of chapters, the story’s “Game of Thrones vibe” made itself apparent with a focus on courtly politics and the fates of kings, princesses, and nobles on the line. Probably not surprising that The Dinosaur Lords is just as much about lords is it is about dinosaurs. Leaving all the things like dinosaurs and the gigantic insects of this world aside though, there’s actually little in the way of fantasy elements apart from a very subtle thread of magic woven in. Thus even though this world is not our own, it’s easier to imagine this book as a historical fantasy rather than a general epic.

Story-wise, with the exception of a couple instances in the middle where I thought the quick bouncing back and forth of POVs was erratic and perplexing, the narrative was generally well-structured and the pacing was spot on. My only other regret was not seeing Melodía, who was my favorite, in a more significant role relative to Rob’s or Jaume’s. This isn’t the first time I’ve read a series-starter feeling that the main female character was underused compared to other perspective characters, and I hope she’ll feature more prominently in the sequel and have a stronger effect on the story.

I guess that addresses the question of whether or not I’ll continue with the series. My answer is absolutely, yes, sign me up for the next book! Fan of dinosaurs? Then you’ve got to read this novel. Even if you do pick this up for love of dinosaurs alone, you’re guaranteed to leave with a lot more than just that, no matter what. Totally worth it.

31a55-new4stars

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36 Comments on “Book Review: The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milán

  1. Omggg I am so excited to read this one, waiting for my copy to arrive one day. The fact that you loved it pumps me up even more! Eeee! Fantastic review though also awful as I calculate the book is still one month away from my paws!

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    • I don’t doubt it. If you recall, the underused female pov character was an issue I had with both Brian McClellan’s Promise of Blood as well as Brian Staveley’s The Emperor’s Blades and in both cases their sequels resolved that. The ending of this one does seem like it’s setting Melodia up for bigger things, so I’m looking forward to that.

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  2. Nope, I can’t resist. I won a giveaway for this the other day, and it is next on my shelf to read! There is no way I can put off not reading this if I have copy. No matter how much I don’t like starting series this early, I can’t resist this one.

    A lot of books (too many) get compared to GoT, but coming from Martin himself, makes me believes this one. I’m not expecting it be like GoT – thats a tall order to fill. What I am expecting is this to an extremely fun story. I mean, it’s dinosaurs and epic fantasy!

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    • Wow, congrats on the win! I hope you’ll enjoy the book. And I’m with you, the GoT comparisons get thrown around way too much, and I’ve actually never encountered anything “like” ASoIaF because I really think GRRM’s epic is in a league of its own. It in this case though, I did feel the vibe as well as see some parallels, but Milan does bring his own flair to the writing and the story can stand on its own.

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  3. Yes, I am a sucker for knights and more importantly I’m a bigger sucker for dinosaurs. So, yes, I will be reading this. I will be. Thanks Mogsy – and you are right the at is amazing

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    • Enjoy! I agree, the art is fantastic. I got the finished HC sent my way from the good folks at Tor too, and looks like they really did a good job with the presentation.

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  4. I won’t lie, I had been avoiding this one because it sounded kind of…campy? I don’t know, how good could a book about dino knights be? BUT. This sounds awesome. I’m glad to hear that the dinos actually have a purpose for the story beyond just…well, being dinos. I’m wary about Melodia being shafted, though. I love awesome princess characters!

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    • Haha, it definitely had the potential to be campy, as I would imagine it would be tough for anyone trying to pull off a medieval setting and dinosaurs without it turning into something like Dinotopia. But no, it was actually quite gritty and serious.

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  5. This was so good! I loved it. To a certain extent I was pre disposed to like it, but, then I started and my initial thoughts were not quite so hot – then suddenly I was hooked. Absolutely hooked. Can’t wait to finish this one.
    Great review – shame Melodia doesn’t play more of a part though – I was guessing she might get thrown into the action somehow.
    Lynn 😀

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    • Me too! Like, how can you go wrong with dinosaurs, right? Well, actually, so many things could have gone wrong, which is why I thought it was pretty amazing how the author struck a very good balance. I found the beginning a bit rough too because of the confusion of battle, but once everything smoothed out and I got more of a hang of the story, I was hooked as well. Melodia does get some action, but only near the end.

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  6. The title alone is beautiful. The Dinosaur Lords? In three words, I already knew I needed to read this. Honestly, I probably got a little too excited about knights riding dinosaurs—once you mentioned the court politics, I actually got less excited.

    But not by much 😀 I’ll have to slot this into my to-be-read list, and fairly highly up. Thanks for the review!

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  7. Pingback: Book Review: Fantasy: The Dinosaur Lords by Victor Milán | Notes From the Darknet

  8. Oh my goodness, this sounds so different! It was quite sometimes since I heard a fantasy story with such a different premise. I hope fantasy is going back to the interesting path it left some years ago 🙂

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  9. Pingback: Mogsy’s Bookshelf Roundup: New Books & What I’ve Been Reading… | The BiblioSanctum

  10. Pingback: Cover & Details: GUERRE ET DINOSAURES by Victor Milan | Zeno Agency Ltd.

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