With an endorsement from George R.R. Martin on possibly the best-looking cover I have ever seen, I was expecting big things from this book. I can confidently say, having finished it in less than 24 hours, I was not disappointed. As a child I was borderline-obsessed with dinosaurs, and as an adult, I am borderline-obsessed with medieval military history. As such, the premise of this book is perfect for me.
Although it is a fantastic premise, it would have been all too easy for it to become laughable or childish given the wrong treatment, and I was very glad that it did not. I found the book to be very well written, reminiscent in areas of Abercrombie’s informal style, and in others of GRRM’s gritty realism. The presence of names and terms which at least have familiar etymology helps to orientate the reader. The amount of detail which Victor Milán has put into his world-building is amazing, and while I’ve seen some negative reviews saying there aren’t enough dinosaurs, I completely disagree. The understated way in which Milán slips them in makes it all the more realistic, as if the existence of dinosaurs, and their allotted roles are simple facts of life.
As a medieval historian, I have studied the infamous Albigensian Crusade which took place in the south of France in the 13th century (including into regions around Provence), and as such recognised the plot as a rough adaptation, of which I am immensely appreciative. It is a stunning example of how great stories don’t need to be invented, merely found in history and popularised. In The Dinosaur Lords, certain aspects of the Albigensian Crusade were followed very closely, down to the chilling words of the Papal Legate ‘Kill them all, God will know his own’, which in the book is somewhat ‘informalised’ to ‘Kill ‘em all and let the gods sort ‘em out.’
In short I would certainly recommend The Dinosaur Lords to anyone, indeed I have already to one of my colleagues who studies the Albigensian Crusade specifically, something which has sparked a lot of conversation in our group.
‘The Dinosaur Lords,’ by Victor Milán is the first in The Dinosaur Lords series.