Series: The Dinosaur Lords #2
Publisher: Tor Books (July 5, 2016)
Length: 448 pages
My Rating: 3.5 stars
While The Dinosaur Lords had a few problems, overall, I felt Victor Milán did a very competent job of introducing readers to his creation, the world of Paradise, with its dinosaur knights, political intrigues, and shadowy origins, so I couldn’t wait to read book two. And, now that I have, I can honestly say two things. One, The Dinosaur Knights is a fitting sequel, filled with more action, more deaths, and more shocking moments. And, two, it isn’t quite as enjoyable as book one.
Continuing where the first book left off, the Empire of Neuvaropa is now in a growing state of chaos; rumors of a Grey Angel Crusade crisscross the land, unnerving peasants and nobility alike. No one able to avoid the growing turmoil.
In the township of Providence, the adherents of the pacifist teachings of The Garden of Truth and Beauty are busy putting their only martial leaders, Rob Korrigan and the famous Karyl Bogomirskiy, on trial for flimsy crimes against the faithful. This spectacle soon revealing more vile goings on in the Garden, even as the Grey Angels’ Crusade begins to erupt around them.
Meanwhile, the Princess Melodía and her maidservant Pilar having escaped imprisonment in the palace, flee the clutches of Duke Falk von Hornberg; their path eventually leading them to Providence, where their stories mix and mingle with those of Rob and Karyl.
Across the kingdom, Melodía’s lover, Count Jaume dels Flors, finds himself once again in favor with Emperor Felipe, helping the seemingly befuddled ruler plan and implement a desperate plan to stop the Grey Angels Crusade from sweeping across the Empire. The scheming Duke Falk von Hornberg constantly in the background determined to undermine and usurp Jaume’s honored status with the Emperor.
As the game pieces are moved across the board of Neuvaropa and war erupts, bringing unlooked for horrors and sweeping all into its maelstrom, our familiar characters are caught up in a mythical conflict to exterminate all of humankind. No one certain if the Grey Angels’ power can even be stopped!
Naturally, the most entertaining aspect of this novel was the dinosaurs. (Duh, right?) Victor Milán continuing to do a masterful job of integrating these majestic animals into the world, showing them in unique ways (The dangerous but adorable Shiraa the Allosaurus’ quest to find her “mother” told through her personal perspectives.) as well as highlighting them as the mightiest weapons of war on Paradise. Those sections of the narrative where huge battles occur my personal favorites, as the dinosaur knights took their place at the center of the action, showcasing their true bestial glory. The author able to capture the horror and magnificence of these conflicts with his wonderful prose.
Coming in a close second to the dinos is the worldbuilding. This narrative succeeding in deepening the mystery of Paradise, as the many tantalizing questions from book one are only partially answered and the Grey Angels take a larger role, adding a wonderful, mythical element to the growing epic; these beings hinting at, even partially revealing the truth about the world, its Creators, and their role in its continued existence. All of this making me curious to see where the author intends to go with all this in the books to come.
And what an ending! The climax of The Dinosaur Knights amazingly well done, as the penultimate clash of humankind and Grey Angels’ lived up to its hype. The last sections of the narrative filled with battle, mystery, personal bravery, and more than a few shocking moments.
But The Dinosaur Knights did have its share of problems. The most glaring of which was the characters themselves, who I continued to struggle to empathizing with. Pick any one of these people, and there were issues. Whether it be cultured Jaume or irritating Rob or overpowered Karyl, they each seemed to stagnate instead of grow throughout this tale, turning into mere caricatures of the “type” of person they were meant to represent. The worst of them all Princess Melodía, who was arguably the star of the show. This pompous, spoiled royal taking a larger role yet seeming to backslide from her bitterly won maturity from book one, reverting to making poor decisions, then not learning from them before making even more ridiculous ones. Her later transformation from emotionally torn youth to competent warrior quite unrealistic and head scratching in the extreme.
I also would be remiss if I didn’t mention the glacial pace of the middle of the narrative. Nothing much of real importance happening. Certainly, Victor Milán moved the chess pieces around the board, preparing them for the huge conclusion, but other than that transpiring, the story felt sluggish, as if it was being held in place until the author choose to unleash all that pent-up energy in a grand finale.
Even with its problems, I did enjoy The Dinosaur Knights, just not as much as The Dinosaur Lords, and without a doubt, I do intend to read book three of the series. Mainly, because I can’t resist those already mentioned dinosaur knights. But, honestly, that isn’t the only reason. There was enough action and tantalizing foreshadowing of mysterious conflicts here to make me want to see where it all goes. However, I will be expecting more from The Dinosaur Princess; a hope that Victor Milan builds on this fabulous ending, picks up the narrative pacing a bit, and makes a concerted effort to develop the main characters (especially Princess Melodía) into more than mere caricatures. If those things happen, I will be with this series until the end. If not . . .