Ahoy there mateys! Though this log’s focus is on sci-fi, fantasy, and young adult, this Captain does have broader reading tastes. So occasionally I will share some novels that I enjoyed that are off the charts (a non sci-fi, fantasy, or young adult novel), as it were. Here is a very fun historical fiction:
dragon teeth (Michael Crichton)
So I have gushed about me love of this author before in me Broadside No. 7. I first heard about this particular novel while researching for that post back in October 2016. This book was discovered by Crichton’s wife in his archives and published post-humously in 2017. Most readers likely know of Crichton from his dinosaur books. Well this one has dinosaurs too! Just not in the way ye might think.
Set in 1876, this novel showcases the real-life rivalry of two fossil hunters in the Wild West. Yes cutthroat dinosaur hunters. Their names were Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope. Their rivalry is known as the “Bone Wars.”
The story is told through the eyes of fictional student, William Johnson, who ends up on an expedition because of a bet. He gets way more than he bargained for when he is immersed in the rivalry of the two scientists. The hatred of the two men, the backdrop of the Sioux Wars, and William’s personal growth make for a very engaging novel.
Though the history is condensed and partially changed for the purposes of the story, the novel does a fantastic job of having exciting action while also showcasing the changing times. There are the Native Americans in the horrifying process of losing their land, the “settlers” trying to get ahead and just survive, political machinations of war, new technology, discussions of evolution, etc. mixed in with gunfights and some famous folk. As always, I love a book that makes me think and then due further research after reading. I read more about General Custer, the Sioux Wars, the Bone Wars, and two fossil hunters themselves.
If ye love Crichton’s previous works then I suggest ye pick up this western served with a side of paleontology. I very much enjoyed it. Arrrr!
Side note: I listened to the audio book and thought Scott Brick did an excellent job!
The author’s website has this to say about the novel (part redacted for spoilers):
Michael Crichton’s recently discovered novel—an adventure set in the Wild West during the golden age of fossil hunting.
The year is 1876. Warring Indian tribes still populate America’s western territories even as lawless gold-rush towns begin to mark the landscape. In much of the country it is still illegal to espouse evolution. Against this backdrop two monomaniacal paleontologists pillage the Wild West, hunting for dinosaur fossils, while surveilling, deceiving and sabotaging each other in a rivalry that will come to be known as the Bone Wars.
Into this treacherous territory plunges the arrogant and entitled William Johnson, a Yale student with more privilege than sense. Determined to survive a summer in the west to win a bet against his arch-rival, William has joined world-renowned paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh on his latest expedition . . .
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