With Battlesaurus, Brian Falkner has done the seemingly impossible: he has made the premise of battle-trained dinosaurs fighting in the Napoleonic Wars thoroughly believable. It is 1815 and Willem — who is not really Willem — at 15 has been in hiding his whole life. His father was a master magician in Napoléon’s court but, when he ran foul of Napoléon’s plan to battle train the creatures that roamed the forest, he was killed in retribution. His wife and child escaped into hiding, but now dinosaurs are ravaging the English and only Willem, the boy who is a ‘greater conjurer than the father’, stands between Napoléon and his prize.
Battlesaurus is a cracking read. From the slow reveal of the terror in the forest, to the secrets of Willem’s past, through to the espionage and ultimate betrayal, the pacing and plotting is excellent, yet never at the expense of the character development. Falkner brings a sensitive and compassionate hand to his extensive cast. Each character is flawed in their own way, courageous at times, witty at others. It is a combination that makes for a compelling and powerful read.