Author: Brian Falkner
Publication: Farrar, Straus and Giroux (BYR) (July 14, 2015)
Description: Did you know that beasts called "saurs" were a part of everyday life in 1815 Europe? Did you know that Napoleon won the battle of Waterloo? Did you know that he did so by using a terrible secret weapon against the British and Prussians? Did you know that only one boy--the son of a magician--knows how to foil the would-be Emperor's plans at world-domination? It's all true. At least according to this head-spinning historical fantasy by adventure author Brian Falkner, just in time for the bicentennial of the battle that re-shaped Europe.
My Thoughts: This alternate history story has the French winning the Battle of Waterloo because of their secret weapons - dinosaurs. Willem and his mother have been hiding in a small village since Willem's magician father angered Napoleon. Willem had learned a lot from his father and wants to be a magician too. He has a unique talent for taming the smaller saurs that inhabit the area and has used his talent on some of the larger more dangerous creatures too.
His talent has made him a special target for the French commander of the the dinosaurs. He doesn't want Willem to escape his control and share his knowledge with the British. Along with a blinded British officer and a British artilleryman who is caring for him, they need to get to the sea and find a way to get to England.
This story was filled with adventure and the sheer horror of war. The descriptions of the Battle of Waterloo and the horrific effects on the wounded soldiers was vivid and harrowing. Willem and crews flight from the French was packed with action.
We also get to see what it is like for ordinary people when their country becomes a battleground the the rulers keep switching sides. The Mayor of their small town was a great example of someone whose loyalties shifted with every breeze.
I felt that the pacing of the beginning of this book was quite slow. There was a lot of setup before the action of the story really began. Once it did, though, the pacing got fast and furious. Fans of war stories would be a good audience for this one.
"I could not move," Willem says. "I did nothing. It was Heloise who attacked the dinosaur, throwing the burning brand. Only then, after a girl had shown greater courage than I, could I persuade myself to step forward."I got this ARC from Macmillan. You can buy your copy here.