Wednesday, December 30, 2015

Review: Groom of the Tyrannosaur Queen

I recently read Daniel Bensen's Groom of the Tyrannosaur Queen. It's the kind of book that hits the ground running and doesn’t stop. It’s a time-travel romance that follows a team of paleontologists led by hard-bitten veteran Andrea Herrera. They dip into the distant past to research Mesozoic flora and fauna, but their trip is quickly interrupted by a horde of dinosaur-riding barbarians.

If that doesn’t sound like the start of a fun read, I don’t know what does.

I read Groom on vacation and found it the perfect book for a getaway—fun, funny, and fast-paced. The main characters are a world-weary commando who’s lost her taste for civilian life (and civilian bureaucracy) and a barbarian philosopher who’s stuck playing politics when all he wants to do is kill. The intelligence and charisma of both characters comes through in the witty, observant narrative voice.

Vague, minor spoilers below.

There’s a lot to like about Groom, and much of it comes through in the characters. Types that could have come across as stock—the burnt-out veteran, the bloodthirsty barbarian, the spoiled princess—instead have rich characterizations and deep inner lives. Their evolutions are an intrigue and a delight to follow.

There is, perhaps, one noticeable exception—a character who goes Heart of Darkness a little quickly—but the complexity and nuance of the other characters more than makes up for it.


The story itself mingles the personal, intimate concerns of the main characters with the fate of the fictionalized Mesozoic societies they encounter. This does, however, raise my other gripe, which is a certain plot-relevant oversight in the construction of the powersuits that Andrea and her contemporaries wear. Still, it’s a minor concern, and if you set it aside, you’ve got a real treat of a book on your hands.

Check it out here on Amazon.