Publishing Date: July 28, 2015
Publisher: Tor Books
Genre: Fantasy, Dinosaurs
Edition: eBook (I got a free ARC via Netgalley for an honest review)
A world made by the Eight Creators on which to play out their games of passion and power, Paradise is a sprawling, diverse, often brutal place. Men and women live on Paradise as do dogs, cats, ferrets, goats, and horses. But dinosaurs predominate: wildlife, monsters, beasts of burden-and of war. Colossal plant-eaters like Brachiosaurus; terrifying meat-eaters like Allosaurus, and the most feared of all, Tyrannosaurus rex. Giant lizards swim warm seas. Birds (some with teeth) share the sky with flying reptiles that range in size from bat-sized insectivores to majestic and deadly Dragons.
Thus we are plunged into Victor Milán's splendidly weird world of The Dinosaur Lords, a place that for all purposes mirrors 14th century Europe with its dynastic rivalries, religious wars, and byzantine politics…except the weapons of choice are dinosaurs. Where vast armies of dinosaur-mounted knights engage in battle. During the course of one of these epic battles, the enigmatic mercenary Dinosaur Lord Karyl Bogomirsky is defeated through betrayal and left for dead. He wakes, naked, wounded, partially amnesiac-and hunted. And embarks upon a journey that will shake his world.
The planet is called Paradise, a planet that is so much like Earth except for the cohabitation of dinosaurs with humans, and yet still no parallel Earth, not even alternate Earth as noted by the author. The story is centered at perhaps the most progressive place in this world that is the kingdom of Nuevaropa in Spana, under the monarch rule by people of what must be in Earth are Spanish. You can just imagine the timeline as that to the highest height of the Spanish rule in Earth (14th century).
There are so many things I could compare this book to George R.R. Martin's A Song of Ice and Fire (ASOIAF) series and I have to blame Martin's blurb for suggesting his series for my mindset of this book.
The prologue reminds me of the prologue of A Game of Thrones where we are given a taste of the really deadly creatures that not only will not show up for the most part, not only are mentioned in passing by some characters but perhaps will only have their role play out by the end of the series. If GoT has the White Walkers, this book has Grey Angels, the Creators’ (8 gods) seven personal servants and avengers. I'm not sure if the Grey Angels are the deadliest enemy in this series but I have a preconceived notion that they are.
Basically, most characters' names are hard to remember, more so their titles and nicknames.
Part One, which comprised of the first three chapters is the best part of the book. It's titled, The Last Battle, and therefore, full of action that will have you reeling. Unfortunately, this is still the introductory part of the book. Hence, you can't appreciate it initially, you'll be confused the whole time like running straight into a firefight after being deployed in a warzone. I suggest reading dinosaur descriptions per chapter opening before engrossing yourself in Part One (and committing them to memory; yeah could be a bad bite for a small apetite; I mean, you're just starting and you have to memorize already).
The per Chapter ink drawings are amazing, I love them! Too bad the publishers ran out of drawings for the dinosaurs for Chapter 18 (with T-rex) and Chapter 15 (for Five Friends). For my OCD, that annoyed me big time. But never you mind, just look at these drawings by Richard Anderson via TOR.
The riders (or dino warriors) that you have to remember are:
- Voyvod Karyl, a duke of small stature, leader of White River Legion who rides a matador (Allosaurus fragilis), Nuevaropa’s greatest native predator, he named Shiraa.
- Duke Falk von Hornberg, a young duke leading the Princes' Party who rides an albino king tyrant (Tyrannosaurus rex), the most dreaded flesh-eating dinosaur in all of Aphrodite Terra, an import to Nuevaropa, aptly named Snowflake.
- Rob Korrigan, a mercenary dinosaur master or trainer who rides a hook-horn (Einiosaurus procurvicornis), a popular dray beast of Anglaterra he named Little Nell.
- Jaume Llobregat, an Aleman Count of the Flowers and Captain-General of the Order of the Companions of Our Lady of the Mirror, who rides a morion (Corythosaurus casuarius), a favored Nuevaropan war-mount, he named Camellia.
No wonder George R.R. Martin is reminded of his series by this book, the female characters are as feisty as his and a famous Dino warrior has lost his sword hand like Jaime Lannister did.
Queen Creator, Mother Maia? This is really Martin's stuff. If Westeros has Seven Gods, Nuevaropa has 8 Creators. Moreover, the Emperor's first daughter (Melodia) reminds me of Sansa while the younger one (Montserrat) reminds me of the willful Arya. If Westeros has the Iron Throne made of thousands of swords, this one has a dino skull made into the Fangèd Throne. A character here, Jaume is like a cross between Jaime and Loras. There's even a dwarf. What's more? In this story, the notion of men coupling with other men is very open. For that, Jaume is a bisexual.
What then, dear friend? We strive to increase beauty in this world of ours. But we’ll never eliminate the ugly. Should we even hope to? You’re a master painter. Isn’t the figure meaningless without ground? Without ugliness for contrast, how can we perceive beauty? Isn’t it ugliness that gives beauty meaning?
The fight between Pinacosaurus and Triceratops looks very exciting. The former also called as mace-tails carried really terrifying two-lobed bone maces at the tips of their tails while the latter is taller bearing three horns.
Paranoid, bellicose, rivals for the same graze, mace-tails and three-horns were uniquely suited to do each other harm. Trikes could flip the low-slung monsters on their backs with their horns to gash open tender bellies. But in close, the ankylosaurs could smash Triceratops knees with their eponymous tail-clubs. They could even scuttle under a three-horn to bash the vulnerable insides of its legs.
The aging process of the people of Paradise is almost the same as the Hobbits, only with maturity level at an age that is twice of normal humans. For example, an eighty-year old man is considered middle-aged with the vitality of a 40-year old man in Earth.
What I’ve always insisted on from myself is to do as well as I could, and keep doing better until I’m at least competent. Long ago I learned that to achieve anything, one must start where one stands. Or spend eternity waiting for the right moment. Which never comes.
Courage is as common as young men with more sperm in their sacks than sense in their skulls.
For an epic story, this book is small in size and yet, big in story. I can't wait to read the sequel even though this book is not officially out yet. Now I'm feeling bad because I have to wait for the next book to come. Epic fantasy lovers will surely love this!