Book Review: The Dinosaur Lords

The Dinosaur Lords
By Victor Milan

My Edition:
Paperback, 580 pages
2015, Tor
ISBN: 9780765382115

In Paradise, humans have learned to live side-by-side with dinosaurs and often use them in battles against one another. During one such battle, Lord Karyl finds himself betrayed and left for dead. Determined to spend his second chance at life in obscurity, he finds himself sought out by a dinosaur trainer and his mysterious benefactor.

I’m going to come right out and say it – I have very little idea what happened in this book.

I thought I was going to go nuts for this series. It’s a fantasy world with dinosaurs and people who train them not only as pets, but as war mounts. How cool does that sound?

Sadly, I didn’t find this book cool or entertaining. I did like that each chapter had a little info (and illustration!) about the various types of dinosaurs found in the world and I enjoyed the few scenes where dinos were predominantly featured (mostly battle scenes). I expected to get more development where the dinos were concerned, especially considering one of the main characters is a trainer, but aside from them fighting each other and occasionally eating a few humans, I didn’t get much of what I wanted. I suppose I expected to learn more about why they still existed and why any of the carnivorous ones would allow humans to ride them into battle rather than just devouring them every chance they got (yeah, ok, I know people can live with tigers and stuff too, but I don’t know how they’re trained either and if I was reading about a world where tigers were pets and war mounts, I’d want more info.)

There were so many characters in this book that I desperately needed a character sheet to keep track of them – I don’t often use character sheets and I don’t think I’ve ever wished for one before, but I was lost when all but four characters were being mentioned. In addition to too many characters that I didn’t give a fig about, it felt like any time a character came on to the scene, they were given a full physical description. Hair and eye details were given most often and those are things I prefer to fill in myself unless it’s especially pertinent to the story. I don’t need to know the hair color of every damn character in the book! One character’s hair was repeatedly described as “orange” and I found that ridiculous, as it didn’t seem anyone else had any “unnatural” colors so I constantly wondered if it was the color of a fruit or a more auburn/blonde mix. Details like the orange hair and characters having “long eyes” (yes, long and not wide or large, long – what even does that mean?!) constantly took me from the story.

Most of the story felt like dialogue. I don’t know what the main plot line was (if you couldn’t already tell from my pathetic blurb) and once I was about halfway through I didn’t care anymore. Most of the time it felt like nothing was happening other than political intrigue, only I never knew who was who so I didn’t find that interesting. When people were battling, I never knew why and I couldn’t tell one side from the other so it never felt like anything was at stake.

There was also a rape scene (as a warning for those of you who may want to avoid that) and while it wasn’t very graphic, it did leave me rather uncomfortable. Okay, you’re saying, “Millie, you’re not supposed to feel comfortable during or after a rape scene, you ass.” That’s not what I mean! Of course, I find it uncomfortable. Look, without launching into some long-winded discussion, I’ll say that the evil henchman character totally persuaded his boss to rape this girl with only a few sentences. I didn’t understand either character’s motivation for making it happen and the way it took place seemed so awkward – as if the author felt the female character needed to be raped and couldn’t think of how to bring it about. Hopefully, that makes sense. Fortunately, it was a short scene…and nothing really seemed to come of it (really the character got over it so quickly, I again wondered why it even needed to happen) and I moved on once the scene was done, but I felt I needed to mention it.

In the end, this book just wasn’t for me. This is by no means a badly written book; Milan clearly has talent and I’d give something else by him a shot. The style of writing didn’t grab me in any way and the plot was nothing like I expected. Paradise felt like it could be a very rich world and more world building might have brought me into the story more. The ending scene was confusing and suddenly switched to a more play-like format with completely new characters that further baffled me rather than persuaded me to want to continue the series. I wish there had been more dinosaurs and more action (other than giant battles.)

If you are looking for a fantasy that is centered more on politics than action and also contains dinosaurs, this may be your cup of tea.

I received this book for free from Tor in exchange for an honest review. This does not affect my opinion of the book or the content of my review. All opinions in this post are my own.

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