Series: The Dinosaur Lords #3
Publisher: Tor Books (August 15, 2017)
Length: 448 pages
My Rating: 2.5 stars
The Dinosaur Princess is the third installment in Victor Milán’s The Dinosaur Lords epic fantasy series, which has been described by George R.R. Martin as “a cross between Jurassic Park and Game of Thrones.” And where the first two books delivered loads of dinosaurs at war with more than a little pulse-pounding action, this novel slows the pace down considerably, focusing on characterization, worldbuilding, and tons of political intrigue.
After the titanic struggle against the Grey Angels’ Crusade, Emperor Felipe of the Empire of Neuvaropa begins picking up the pieces, rewarding the heroes of the hour and punishing the turncoats. Even before the celebrations can end however, new tragedy strikes at the heart of the kingdom with the kidnapping of the Princess Montse from the palace itself!
Leading the frantic rescue effort is the newly christened Prince of the Empire Jaume dels Flors. He and his remaining knightly companions attempting to pick up the trail of the kidnappers and run them to ground before they can flee the continent aboard ship to parts unknown. Their search soon revealing that more than political intrigue is going on but also demonic machinations, as the magic of the legendary Fae is revealed!
With her beloved once again off on a mission, the newly restored Princess Melodía must brave the political intrigues at court and calm her father’s temper as other call for war to be declared to retrieve her sister. Melodía constantly battling her newfound disdain for the pompous royal court, her hatred for her rapist Duke Falk von Hornberg, and her fear of the subtle manipulations of Falk’s willy mother, Margrethe. All of it seemingly overwhelming her until an ancient family member returns to court, taking Melodía under her wing; this matriarch of the Delgado family one of the most devious, most ruthless politician to ever live upon Paradise!
Meanwhile, Rob Korrigan and Karyl Bogomirskiy are busy attempting to restore peace and order in the war-torn provinces over which they have become nobles. Their task complicated by their disdain for royalty and the leftover supports of the Grey Angels’ Crusade. And if that wasn’t problem enough, Karyl slowly begins to discover exactly who saved him in an earlier battle and why!
All of this basically means that this third volume of the series is a bridge story or a setup book. A chance for the author to slow down the pace, introduce new characters and new plots, as well as begin to build energy and tension for future events. And on many levels, The Dinosaur Princess does a masterfully job of accomplishing all of these things.
First, Victor Milán spends a great deal of time adding new depth to the world of Paradise. Readers finally able to explore the true nature and objectives of the Grey Angels, as well as become introduced to their enemies, the demonic Fae. There are even brief hints of an eternal war between the two taking place in another dimension. And in the mortal realm, the wide world of Paradise begins to come into further focus; other nations becoming more important to the narrative, as players from outside the Empire of Neuvaropa begin to appear, taking a part in the ongoing political schemes.
Second, our main characters get tons of development. The returning faces like Melodía, Karyl and Rob get the lion’s share of course, and since there is no war going on, that time is spent exploring their past and their present circumstances, developing them into more mature, well-formed people. But the author also finds plenty of pages to feature the two, new faces of the power struggle brewing in the Empire: Falk’s mother Margrethe and her Delgado counterpart Rosamaria. These two ruthless, cunning women quite the devious creatures, who are sure to fill future pages with murder, mayhem, and Game of Thrones-like manipulation.
With all that goodness though, The Dinosaur Princess fails to deliver in two other, very important areas. Failures which actually caused this tale to not quite live up to the previous novels in my eyes.
Probably the most agonizing of the missteps was the lack of dinosaurs. As I’ve said in every one of my previous reviews, dinosaur knights and their titanic battles is what sold me on reading this series to begin with and kept me coming back to it. Victor Milán able to vividly portray the immensity of these animals and the epic nature of their clash in battle to the point I had to read about them. But, unfortunately, this book just did not feature any of that. Dinosaurs curiously missing from the majority of this narrative.
Right behind the dinosaur extinction was the slow pacing. This has been an issue for me in all the previous novels: a tendency for nothing much to happen for chapter after chapter, but in those other books the author always livened things up a bit with a huge reveal or an epic battle. Here nothing terribly exciting happens. Certainly, we have the conclusion to Jaume’s rescue attempt and a frantic conclusion, but for whatever reason, neither of those excited me. Perhaps it was just the lack of dinosaurs, I’m not sure.
In summation, The Dinosaur Princess promised a more character focused story with Game of Thrones-like scheming, backstabbing, and royal mayhem mixed in with a great deal of exciting worldbuilding. Certainly, it delivers on these promise in many ways, evolving the characters and the world in many exciting ways, but in doing so, it failed to correct the pacing issues of previous installments and made the fatal mistake of underutilizing the dinosaurs and their knights. No doubt, I’ll pick up the next book in the series due to the tantalizing dreams of more dinosaur battles, but I can’t say I have very much optimism about the trajectory of the series at this point.
I received this book from the publisher in exchange for a fair and honest review. I’d like to thank them for allowing me to receive this review copy and inform everyone that the review you have read is my opinion alone.