The Dinosaur Princess

The Dinosaur Princess

by Victor Milán

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Product Details

ISBN-13: 9780765382139
Publisher: Tom Doherty Associates
Publication date: 06/26/2018
Series: The Dinosaur Lords , #3
Pages: 560
Sales rank: 101,344
Product dimensions: 4.10(w) x 7.60(h) x 1.70(d)

About the Author

In previous worlds VICTOR MILÀN has been a cowboy and Albuquerque's most popular all-night prog-rock DJ. He's also the author of the award-winning Cybernetic Samurai, and The Dinosaur Lords. He's never outgrown his childhood love of dinosaurs . . . and hopes you didn't either.

Read an Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

Hada, the Fae — Also demonio, demon. An individual is called a Faerie. A race of wicked supernatural creatures, who defy the Creators' will and seek to tempt humanity into ruin. Fighting together, humankind, the Grey Angels, and the Creators Themselves defeated their attempt to conquer all Paradise during the dreadful Demon War. Notorious for their pranks, which can be cruel, and their fondness for driving bargains with mortal men and women. Which they keep, but seldom as expected.

–A PRIMER TO PARADISE FOR THE IMPROVEMENT OF YOUNG MINDS

THE EMPIRE OF NUEVAROPA, FRANCIA, ARCHIDUCHÉ DU HAUT-PAYS:

"Lord Karyl, I'm your death."

Quickly though the sibilant crackle had snapped Karyl Bogomirskiy to wakefulness, thought caught his body already in motion, rolling out of the simple pallet in the sumptuous tent.

He hit the fine Ovdan carpet spread across the tent's canvas floor. Without need for conscious intent, he dropped his shoulder, rolled, and snapped to his feet, facing back at his bed. A spurt of yellow fire blazed up in a twist of stinking smoke — but briefly, since both the baggy linen mattress and the vexer feathers it was stuffed with were hard to kindle.

Beyond it, something floated in midair. All he could make out was a random seethe of lights and shadows, angles and forms, shapes and void. Now it looked like a beautiful nude woman with purple skin; now a miniature Three-horns; now a thorn-bush; now a black whirlwind; now a man with the head of the mythical Home beast called the ram, with two huge horns curling from it; now jags of primary-colored triangles like shatters of a pane of glass; now a flame. Chimes and grinding noises and gurgles like a Thunder-titan digesting its day's graze chased each other through Karyl's ears. He smelled jasmine, fresh dew, candles, shit.

In his hand he felt the cool, hard reassurance of a dagger hilt. He hadn't needed thought to grab that as he escaped the bed, either.

At the evening's great feast, to celebrate the day's great victory, Karyl had drunk sparingly of wine, and no ale at all. He preferred water. In the weeks after he had awakened from what he thought was sure death, he had sought shelter from the head pains and night terrors in a bottle. Even now, confronting horror, he felt a shudder of fear at the thought of what he had found instead. Sanctuary wasn't it.

Clear though his mind was, it took him a full, steady breath to come to grips with what he was confronting. Or perhaps merely to accept it.

"A Faerie?" He laughed savagely. "Why not? Everything I thought was impossible is the only thing that happens to me now."

Thought-quick, the thing struck at him. Pivoting out of its path, he slashed at it with the dagger. He felt impact.

Sparks flew. Dark smoke puffed and stank. "Iron!" the Faerie shrieked. "It stings."

"Good," Karyl said warily. But he saw his cut had done the creature no harm. The blade, though, was scored and still smoking, as if by strong acid.

He lunged toward the bed — and away from another stab of a thorned / flaming / frothing protrusion. His blackwood staff lay beside the pallet. Kneeling on the staff to hold it down, he whipped out the meter-long blade concealed inside. Then he grabbed the thin blanket off his pallet and threw it over the apparition.

The blanket thrashed. Squeals and sparkles came from underneath. Light glowed hellish yellow and blue through holes that appeared and rapidly grew in the goat-felt fabric.

The Faerie's reaction to Karyl's dagger stroke had taught him that, whatever else, it was palpable. As expected, the blanket disconcerted the thing as it would a mortal foe. Also as expected, it wouldn't for long.

As the blanket was consumed into glowing fragments and scraps that appeared to be being eaten up by some black growth and a frightful stench not just of burning goat-felt arose, Karyl leapt over the bed and thrust the tip of the single-edged straight sword through the center of the thing.

The shriek that battered his brain did not seem to enter through his ears. A terrific shock up his arm threw him back on his ass on the bed.

Now the crackles and gleams and fast-spreading blights seemed to be consuming the Faerie itself.

"I die!" it screamed. "But why?"

It seemed to be sucked in on itself. And out of the world.

For a moment Karyl simply stood, eyes wide, breathing hard. Though not from physical exertion.

"You saw the whole thing," he said without turning.

"Yes," came from behind.

Turning, he saw what appeared to be a small woman, features and form completely hidden by cloak and cowl. He weighed the sword briefly in his hand. But he already knew, from trying to strike her in despair and fury earlier that evening, that Aphrodite was not physically present; what he saw and heard was a projection, an illusion. Reassured nonetheless by the weapon's feel, he stooped to pick up the staffscabbard and return the blade.

"You don't need to be seen to see, do you?" he said, tucking the dagger back into its sheath beneath his bed.

"No."

"And, of course, you didn't help."

"You know my nature, Lord Karyl. I cannot interfere in human affairs."

"What's stopping you? You've got absurd and mystic powers: To walk the world without substance. To grow back my hand. What can possibly restrict you?"

"What you might call a geas," she said. "One which will destroy me if I disobey."

"What could lay that kind of ... enchantment on you?"

"The Creators," she said. "They made me that way."

He pushed out a sound that was half grunt, half sigh. "Very well. It seems I must accept that. Disbelief has long since played me false, and left me no solid ground to stand on."

He pointed the straight blade toward where the Faerie had hovered. The carpet was scorched beneath, and discolored, as if something had pissed on it.

"They made that too?"

"No," she said. "At least — not deliberately."

"It was a Faerie."

"Yes."

He shook his head. Which hurt. It wasn't one of the horrific headaches, like big iron spikes being driven through his brain, that often snatched him screaming from sleep or helped to sink his waking self into black despair. But it seemed to herald one.

"I notice the guards haven't exactly swarmed to my aid."

"It never occurred to you to call for them, did it? Practical though you are in so many things."

He raised a brow. "No. I'm used to fighting my own battles. Too used, perhaps. But the commotion should've caught somebody's attention."

"The Faerie spoke quietly — and as much in your mind as aloud, as you may have realized. Nor were the shines and flashes particularly visible through the walls of the tent. In any event, with the great threat gone, the few guards on duty tonight are fuddled by fatigue and wine themselves."

He nodded. "People always lose spirit and energy after a battle, even a victory."

"So I have seen, over centuries of observation as the Witness."

He picked up the staff, sheathed his sword, and tossed it on the bed. "I don't really know much about human feelings. And thinking processes, such as they are. Less than you, I don't doubt."

She pulled back her cowl. Her face was that of a pretty young woman, not even fifty, with green eyes and short red-gold hair.

"I have had more practice," she said.

Not for the first time, he wondered what she was. Or what she really looked like. He suspected she could take any semblance she chose, especially given that all he had seen of her was illusion.

She approached him, seeming to glide without moving her feet. She reached out a hand as if to stroke his hair. He flinched. Just because he couldn't touch her did not mean she could not touch him. He did not welcome such contact.

Her brow furrowed. The outsides of her eyes compressed as if in pain. She dropped her hand.

"Yet your words can rally women and men to serve your ends as few others."

"A mere sleight," he said, "like any common mountebank's."

Stepping back, she waved at his left hand. "Perhaps you should be less dismissive of conjuring sleights."

He scowled. When Rob Korrigan had taken Karyl to meet her in an inn in the Francés village of Pot de Feu, she had gestured mysteriously and shone light on the stump of his left hand, bitten off by a Horror on the brink of the Cliffs of the Eye. He had taken that as fraud — and as cruel mockery. Then his hand grew back.

Which in some ways was crueler.

"Why did the thing speak to me?" he asked. "I was sound asleep." For once. "If it had just struck, it would have killed me."

"The Fae are insane," Aphrodite said in her earnest childlike way. "It probably did not believe you could harm it. Humans seldom can."

"How did I harm it?" Karyl said. "And did I harm it badly enough that it won't soon come back?"

"You heard it. You killed it."

Karyl asked a question with his brow.

"Your sword is special. You must have surmised that, since when you woke again after your fall you found yourself a homeless beggar dressed in shabby robe and sandals — yet carrying a weapon of a quality only a rich grande could afford. And of a kind seldom seen in Nuevaropa: a single-edged sword with a straight blade, concealed in a staff."

"Indeed. Though I've seen swords just like it in Zipangu. They call it shikomizue."

"Have you noticed anything unusual about the sword?" "I take it that you mean, other than that I have it at all."

"Yes."

"It's uncommonly sharp, and never needs sharpening. That's fairly strange, but I quickly came to take it for granted. I was not at my best mentally when I returned to myself. From wherever I'd been. Acceptance was easiest, so it was what I did. And later —" He shrugged. "There were more urgent things to think about."

She nodded. "It is as I thought. Certain ... artifacts ... exist which are imbued with the power of harming creatures from the World Below. Clearly, your staff-sword is one."

"Shiraa's bite was enough to make an end of Raguel."

"As I told you: Raguel is not dead. Though surely discomfited. And angry."

"But the Faerie's really dead."

"Yes. They lie. This one happened not to. They are unpredictable even in prevarication. They are mad."

"Could my staff-sword have killed Raguel?"

Her features, which even the anti-aesthete Karyl recognized as flawless, creased with concern.

"I do not know. That is truth. Some such artifacts might. Very powerful beings of the sort that you would regard as 'supernatural' have been truly destroyed before."

"Which begs the question of how I, a homeless beggar, came into possession of a mystic weapon of a degree of power too preposterous for even a romance."

She smiled sadly.

"You won't tell me," he said.

"When you are ready."

He made a disgusted sound and waved a disgusted hand.

"I'm thinking of declining the dukedom the Emperor announced for me at the banquet," he said, turning away. "I hate nobles. They're shit."

Of course, Karyl Bogomirskiy, once heir to the throne of the Misty March, and years later its Voyvod or Warrior-Count, was noble himself. Aphrodite refrained from pointing out the obvious.

"Do you think you can do more to counter the evil they do as a bourgeois, or a peasant? A penniless outcast? Or as one of them, and powerful and well-respected even among them?"

"Am I to be spared nothing?" he said, hearing and hating the whine in his voice.

She shook her head. "I thought you never asked rhetorical questions, dear Karyl."

"That wasn't necessarily one," he said. "Sometimes I still dare to hope." If doubt forsakes me, sarcasm still serves. Or anyway answers my summons.

"You should," she said. "Indeed, you have to. But you must do more than hope, Lord Karyl, my dear. Because now the Grey Angels are angry. And, more, they are coming."

*
He walked. The crushed bone that metaled the road crunched beneath the sandals on his feet. He smelled warm soil and ripe growth, the vagrant hints of flowers growing wild in the ditch. The sun stung his bare and beardless face through a particularly thin scrim of overcast.

I need to get a hat, he thought.

He looked around at his surroundings. He was walking through a gently rolling land, fields of brown grain stretching left and right, dotted with scrub-topped hills and stands of evergreen broadleaf trees. Ditches whose spoil had gone to build up the roadway ran along both sides to drain it. Fifty meters to his left, three peasants, two men and a woman, naked or wearing only loincloths along with their inevitable conical straw hats, loaded sheaves into a wagon. A single nosehorn, dark green mottled over grey, munched contentedly in its harness at the contents of a feed bucket looped over its single big horn.

Wheat grew near enough to the road to provide cover for a quick strike from ambush, he realized. A tautness ran up the underside of his penis, knotted the base of his scrotum, coiled in his stomach. Was that fear? His left hand tried to clench but felt peculiar; his right hand clenched on something hard.

He looked down. Almost absently, he noted that his body was clad in a rough, almost sack-like robe or smock of greyish brown hemp. With a jolt he realized that his left hand wasn't there. His left arm, swinging into view at the rhythm of his pace, ended in a pink, puckered stub.

The apprehension in his belly turned to nausea. A spasm dropped him to his knees. Some reflex of propriety made him turn toward the ditch before he vomited.

All he could produce was dry heaves anyway.

When the convulsions passed, he got back to his feet with the aid of the blackwood staff he now noticed he was carrying in his right hand. Knowing nothing better to do, he walked on.

The nausea reaction to discovering the loss of his sword hand left him keenly aware of a growling emptiness in his belly. He was carrying something, by feel a pack or sack, over his shoulder by a strap of nosehorn leather, stained dark by sweat and weather-cracked, that ran across his chest. Perhaps he carried something to eat there? And also drink.

Before he could begin to rummage, memory snatched him like a Tyrant's Jaw —

*
He floats, he floats.

Something sears his left arm. He screams. Yet no sound enters his mind.

He opens his eyes to nothing. To grey Void, speck-swarming.

Then faces. Inhumanly beautiful — shifting subtly to merely, monstrously inhuman. And back again. He feels as if he is being twisted — torn inside out. He longs for escape, for respite, for relief from the sudden lust that somehow threatens to explode his groin.

Then: Laughter! Laughter!

And

*
He falls. He falls. He feels and sees the blood of his life pumping from the stump of his left arm, like a red rope unreeling from the cliff from which he fell, pulling out his life. Feels the fevered heat through the feathers of the narrow-keeled chest of the Horror he clutches to him with his right hand. Smells its fetid rotting-meat breath as the toothy snout snaps at his face, spattering droplets of his own blood hot on the face he still struggles desperately to keep from being bitten off. The dinosaur struggles furiously to rake his sides with the great killing-claws on either foot. But he grips it too tightly.

He is dead, and multiply so: from loss of blood, and from the surface of the great gulf called the Tyrant's Eye rushing up to smash him like a granite wall. But he fights on. That is what he does.

As for hope, he long since lost that.

Still, his balls and gut tighten in anticipation of the pain of impact: imminent, releasing.

He falls and falls.

And then —

*
His scream woke him before the guards, stumbling with weariness and drink but willing nonetheless, it brought into his tent could do so.

CHAPTER 2

Tricornio, Three-horn, Trike. ... — Triceratops horridus. Largest of the widespread hornface (Ceratopsian) family of herbivorous, four-legged dinosaurs with horns, bony neck-frills, and toothed beaks; 10 tonnes, 10 meters long, 3 meters at shoulder. Non-native to Nuevaropa. Feared for the lethality of their long brow-horns as well as for their belligerent eagerness to use them.

THE BOOK OF TRUE NAMES

The closed-fist blow rocked Rob Korrigan's head to the right.

He reeled on his knees. Quite the punch he packs, he managed to think inside a brain that felt as if it were spinning in his skull like a child's top, for such a swag-bellied old reaper.

(Continues…)



Excerpted from "The Dinosaur Princess"
by .
Copyright © 2017 Victor Milán.
Excerpted by permission of Tom Doherty Associates.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.

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The Dinosaur Princess 5 out of 5 based on 0 ratings. 1 reviews.
reececo331 More than 1 year ago
The Dinosaur Princess (The Dinosaur Lords, #3) by Victor Milán I am happy to finally review this book. I have been waiting for my Shirra to come to the peace with her beloved “Mother” Karl. Victor Milan just sets us fans up for the next three books, that I hope Tor allows to come to print very soon. The Dinosaur Lords is an addictive storyline with characters like the strong little Montse, her older and alluringly beautiful sister Melodia, and the striking love interest Jaume. Surprisingly the series has been taken over by Shirra and Karl where the fans love seeing this pair in action. This book does not disappoint the fans of this beloved character as she has a dynamic role in the book. Dinosaur Princess focuses on the political and social conflicts affected by the end of the Grey Angel Crusade. With the dramatic end of the Crusade literally in the jaws of the fans beloved Shirra. The Emperor has to pardon, those characters he previously thought were in rebellion, Jaume, Karl and Rob for their aid and help ending the Crusade. Much to Melodia’s regret to accept those pardons the Emperor unknowingly pardons Duke Falk, the evil scheming, rapist who is in deep with ploys to destroy the Empire. Melodia in the pages of Dinosaur Princess learns skills that will enable her to stand up for her empire, herself and her friends interest. She makes connections to an ancient and wise advisor, learns new physical and psychological skills that will enable her to find forgiveness, gratitude and personal strength. With all her positive improvements the problems facing her and the Empire are mounting as the enemies are coming out of the woodwork. With more drama, and magical and political prowess, Victor Milan sets up the next three books in Dinosaur Princess.