Boy, am I disappointed.
This is the review of a book I’d been looking forward to for a while and which turned out to not only be boring, but almost unreadable.
I don’t want to be unfair. First editions HAVE mistakes in them, that’s unavoidable. But I could have done with fewer of them.
I have to be careful not to turn this into a rant, so I’ll start with the positive aspects of the book.
- There were some scenes I liked, including an awesome one where a mounted knight with a a lance fights an allosaurus.
- Generally, the fighting scenes were quite well done, especially the dinosaurs in action were pretty vivid.
- There’s beautiful artwork of dinosaurs at the beginnings of each chapter. (Although the short glossaries describing things of the fictional world, and often dinosaurs, should have matched the images so that readers could more easily imagine the non-mainstream dinosaurs in the book.)
- The descriptions were usually atmospheric when they weren’t way too long-winded.
I’m afraid that’s it
What’s the book about? The novel is set in a world called “Nuevaropa” (combination of the Spanish word for new and Europe. Clap …. clap), which is NOT medieval Europe, but still kind of is.
There’s an Emperor residing in a King’s Landing-like sea town called La Merced and his daughter, Princess Melodía, is one of the PoV characters, even though I don’t know why, she hardly does anything but think about fucking her cousin.
Then there’s dinosaur master Robb and legendary war captain Karyl Bogomirskiy, who end up an unlikely team teaching peace-loving peasants to fight in a side plot that also seems kind of extraneous and nonessential.
And then there’s Jaume, the Imperial champion who keeps crying and being disrespected and disobeyed. He vanishes after a while to lay siege to some unruly lord’s keep.
That’s kind of it.
Oh yeah, there’s the danger of the Grey Angel crusade. (Just think of the White Walkers and you get the idea.)
Having done due diligence, I can now go into why I think this is one of the worst books I’ve ever read. Since there’s so many awful things to talk about, I’ll give up the paragraphed text structure for this one and do it in good ol’ bullet points.
There’s no ranking of awfulness to the following list, I just put it down as it comes to mind.
- There’s no fucking map!
- Fantasy readers about to embark into a new world, which is usually the selling point of books like this, should be able to expect a map giving them an overview of where they are.
- “Dinosaur Lords” immediately starts drowning the reader in an avalanche of proper names (in different languages, often not translated) and place names that they only can make some sense of halfway through the novel.
- Actually, there is a map, but it will only be included in the next editions. Author: Serves you right, suckers, for preordering!
- Foreign language words without translating
- I find it okay when there’s just some of them and they’re not that essential to the plot. It’s fun to leave some work for readers who want to look these details up.
- But in this book there’s so much Spanish, French and German that it must be pretty unbearable for non-multilingual people as I imagine many Americans to be.
- -> Another fuck you to the reader.
- It’s a (bad) Game of Thrones clone!
- Fantasy often is repetitive. It’s natural, since there aren’t that many new and innovative ways of imagining worlds in our small human minds.
- But there are so many Game of Thrones-like things in “Dinosaur Lords” that I wonder how GRRM could ever give this book his blessing. Did he ever read it? How could he not be offended by how heavily/cheekily this novel “borrows” from his work? Especially, since Victor Milán and he appear to be friends.
- Here’s a list of similarities (“Dinosaur Lords” // “A Song of Ice and FIre”):
- The Fangèd Throne (made of Dinosaur bones) // The Iron Throne (made of molten blades)
- Rob (different type of character than Robb Stark, to be fair, but will end up in a very simlar scene + why use that name when there are 1000 others at disposal?) // Robb
- Shining Knight Jaume (srsly? And WTF kind of a name is “Jaume” anyway? Sounds like a fruit) // Shining Knight Jaime Lannister
- Brotherhood of Reconciliation // Faceless Men (both order-like groups of assassins)
- Eight Creators // Seven Gods
- Fear of “Grey Angel crusade” // Fear of White Walkers (both uncertain mythological threats hovering at the edges of the plot
- NOW COMES! Battle of Whispering Woods (where Rob fights and wins) // Battle of the Whispering Wood (where Robb fights and wins) – Really, now? Come ON! Don’t rip off your friend, dude!
- Another similarity with GoT is the employment of different points of view as a narrative mode and the fact that it’s used for the “good” characters and the “bad”. This leads me to the next point.
- Laughable characters
- Reading the book, you get a strong sense that Milán tried to imitate what everyone praises Martin for: characters neither black nor white. But whereas in Martin’s case you can completely understand and follow each character’s motivations, be they light or dark, Milán’s attempt to do the same is cringeworthy. SPOILER ALERT, SKIP TO B IF YOU DON’T WANT TO BE SPOILERED. One of the “bad guys” of the plot does bad things, very clumsy bad things, but bad nonetheless, and questions himself afterwards. “What have I done?”. he cries out at one point as if standing on a stage. Mr. Milán, that’s not narrative complexity, that’s just an incoherent, completely weak character. Plus: Who ever cries “What have I done?” in modern stories?
- You can still tell who the irredeemably evil characters are in the story, because they’re all ugly as fuck, have bad teeth and kind of look like a raptor.
- The good guy, knight Jaume, is often described as living for battle, but also being sensitive and good. How does Milán illustrate this? He makes him cry during battle. Very subtle indeed.
- At the end of the book, you feel like you hardly know any of the characters, because their behaviour and motives seem to change all the time.
- Deus Ex Machina magic
- At one point in the story, a sorceress appears to set on of the main guys, who lost his arm, on his quest. She makes his hand regrow, then disappears from the book never to be seen again. Apparently, her only job was to regrow his arm/hand. That’s the magic part of the book. Why this was necessary, I don’t know, since the guy had been a badass even with one hand.
- Simple, unimaginative plot
- The plot of “Dinosaur Lords” is straightforward, predictable, random, boring und unbelievable all at the same time.
- SPOILER: One of the plotlines involves a princess, the daughter of the Emperor, whose main function in the story seem to be her sexual cravings. Well, that and becoming a victim in what must be the most stupid, thoughtless and unconvincing “intrigue” in the history of palace intrigues and coup d’états. I don’t even want to re-tell it, I don’t want to puke all over my keyboard.
- To be fair, there really isn’t even that much of a plot, because the author spends many, many pages describing things. Even in the middle of dialogues after one person asks a question, he might start to suddenly describe how everyone looks for two pages before having the other person respond. It becomes infuriatingly annoying after page 30 or 40.
- Dialogues that don’t serve characters or plot, but only to let the reader know about the world.
- No further comment.
Bottom Line: Don’t buy the (publisher’s) hype. It’s fake. The story is boring and hardly a story. The characters are as flat as their dialogues and hardly characters. If you’ve read GoT before and feel encouraged by GRRM’s blurb on the cover, GTFO as fast as you can. It’s not worth your time.