Book Review: The Dinosaur Princess by Victor Milán
I received a review copy from the publisher. This does not affect the contents of my review and all opinions are my own.
Mogsy’s Rating: 2.5 of 5 stars
Series: Book 3 of The Dinosaur Lords
Publisher: Tor (August 15, 2017)
Length: 448 pages
In the first book, The Dinosaur Lords, Victor Milán took my imagination by storm with Paradise, a land populated by dinosaurs and the medieval knights that rode them. While things slowed down a little in its sequel The Dinosaur Knights, I still had faith enough to grab the next book, because surely a premise this cool deserved a second chance. Sadly though, instead of picking up again, the plot has continued to lose its steam in this third installment, and I think maybe it’s time to face the hard truth that the honeymoon period between me and this series might be over.
The Dinosaur Princess begins with a kidnapping. With the confusion of the war and all parties still reeling from the revelation of the Grey Angels, the royal family’s enemies have struck the palace and stolen away Montserrat, the adored little sister of Princess Melodía. Taking it upon himself to rescue the girl, Melodía’s lover and the hero of the realm Prince Jaume dels Flors has gathered a team to go after the kidnappers before they can reach the coast and disappear. Luckily for everyone, Montserrat isn’t as helpless as many think she is. Using her language skills to eavesdrop and spy on her captors, the young teen has left an invaluable trail of clues for the Jaume to follow, and the rescue would have succeeded too, if not for an unexpected twist.
As another faction enters the fray, those already embroiled in the war have no idea what to make of the mystical implications behind this development. Some remain skeptical of Jaume’s account of what happened and as a result, both his and Melodía’s standing are damaged in the eyes of the court. This setback is the last thing the princess needs as she attempts to counsel her hot-tempered father, while those with questionable allegiances whisper dangerous sentiments in his ear and others scream loudly for blood and revenge. Meanwhile, dinosaur master Rob Korrigan and his friend the famed captain Karyl Bogomirskiy have their hands full trying to keep the people of the countryside calm and stave off any dissent. Becoming elevated to noble positions should have helped, but to no one’s surprise, it doesn’t.
This series has been described as Game of Thrones meets Jurassic Park, and while I found this to be a brilliant pitch for the first book, the comparison has become less appropriate for the sequels. We seem to be in a holding pattern right now, with the political intrigue having lost much of its attraction, and the pacing of the overall story arc has slowed to a crawl. Most discouraging of all, there has also been a decrease in the dinosaur action. Considering this is the main selling point of the series, this last issue might have been the most detrimental to my enjoyment.
I also feel we’ve lost sight of the main goal, somewhat. Princess Montserrat’s kidnapping smacked strongly of being a diversion, and sure enough, it served as a precursor to another bigger reveal. When so many other conflicts still in the air though, I wasn’t sure throwing a new bombshell like that into the mix was the right decision. The Dinosaur Knights already had the feel of a “bridge” book, and I was looking forward to some steps towards resolution in this third installment, not more interruptions or distractions to weigh down the storyline. All the exposition required to set up this new plot development only served to slow the pacing down some more, and although the author might have tried to offset this by injecting more shock value into the battle scenes and descriptions of scantily clad female characters, that just put me off even more.
With most books that don’t work for me though, I can still usually find a silver lining, and in this case, I loved the focus on Montserrat. While Melodía may be the star of the series, in my eyes her little sis has already surpassed her in many ways. To be honest, I was actually quite unimpressed by the main characters, their roles remaining in a holding pattern like so much else in this book (e.g. Rob and Karyl), though Melodía did have her moments towards the end, making up for the impotent rage she exhibited for most of the novel. A couple more new faces also join the cast, most notably the mercurial Margrethe and the crafty Rosamaria. I admit to being very curious to see where Milán will take the story with this pair of powerful, clashing personalities at court, and if I pick up the next book, these two women will be a big part of the reason.
At this point, I can’t say I’m as excited about this series as I was before, but there’s still probably time for things to turn around, especially now that we’ve spent two books setting up the groundwork for the eventual showdown between the great houses of Paradise, the Grey Angels, and now the newly introduced faction. The slowness along with the lack of any meaningful development in the story made this book a struggle to get through, but if we get more dinosaur action and plot progress in the next one, I could be tempted to read on.