Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton

Dragon Teeth

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 paleon...

Title:Dragon Teeth
Author:
Rating:
ISBN:0008173060
Edition Language:English
Number of Pages:295 pages

Dragon Teeth Reviews

  • Bob Milne

    Unlike so many ghost-written novels that are 'polished' after an author's death, Dragon Teeth does feel like the completed manuscript it is purported to be. In fact, it reads very much like one of Michael Crichton's earlier historical novels - The Great Train Robbery, Eaters of the Dead, and even (to some extent) Congo. It is a leaner, simpler sort of story, more concerned with the facts of the past than the theories of the future.

    Readers with an interest in paleontology are likely already famil

    Unlike so many ghost-written novels that are 'polished' after an author's death, Dragon Teeth does feel like the completed manuscript it is purported to be. In fact, it reads very much like one of Michael Crichton's earlier historical novels - The Great Train Robbery, Eaters of the Dead, and even (to some extent) Congo. It is a leaner, simpler sort of story, more concerned with the facts of the past than the theories of the future.

    Readers with an interest in paleontology are likely already familiar with the infamous feud between Othniel Charles Marsh and Edwin Drinker Cope, but Crichton makes their rivalry come alive through the unlikely eyes of William Johnson - a wealthy student from the East who lied his way into the West in order to collect on a bet. As Crichton admits in his Author's Note at the end, as crazy as it all is, he deliberately played down some of the more outrageous aspects of the feud, making it seem more realistic to new readers.

    Johnson is a fun character to ride along with, a young man who changes drastically over the course of the novel. We watch as he grows and matures, as he has his eyes opened to the harsh realities of the West, and as he fights his way back home - a journey that seems destined to never end. His cross-country journey along the rails is worth the price of admission alone, with a stampeding herd of buffalo a definite highlight, and his time in the barren, wind-swept, alkaline flats is far more fascinating than the landscape would suggest. A good part of the novel there deals with the very real threat of the Indian Wars, with Crichton proving himself to be rather sympathetic, portraying most of the tribes in a positive light. The latter half of the novel is almost a Wild West dime-store novel in and of itself, complete with saloons, gunfights, and even Wyatt Earp. It is there than Johnson shines brightest, becoming not just a convenient narrator, but an authentic hero.

    The science here is solid, exploring the discovery, the naming, and the construction of dinosaurs. It is the characters who make Dragon Teeth come alive, though, with heroes and villains alike putting a recognizable face on a very different era. Hopefully, this won't prove to be his last finished manuscript to be discovered but, if it is, then it's nice to know his posthumous career will have ended on a high note.

  • Mogsy (MMOGC)

    3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

    I’m a huge Michael Crichton fan, but admittedly I went into Dragon Teeth with reservations. After all, posthumously published works tend to make me a little wary, and the last two novels published after Crichton’s death have not exactly disabused me of this bias, reinforcing my belief that most “found manuscripts” are doomed to disappoint. So you can imagine my surprise when I finished this book and found that I really e

    3.5 of 5 stars at The BiblioSanctum

    I’m a huge Michael Crichton fan, but admittedly I went into Dragon Teeth with reservations. After all, posthumously published works tend to make me a little wary, and the last two novels published after Crichton’s death have not exactly disabused me of this bias, reinforcing my belief that most “found manuscripts” are doomed to disappoint. So you can imagine my surprise when I finished this book and found that I really enjoyed it. Granted, I love paleontology and I love Westerns, but unlike Pirate Latitudes or Micro (completed by Richard Preston), both of which I felt were unpolished and sloppy in their execution, Dragon Teeth actually felt solidly put together and complete.

    It all began with a not-so-friendly wager. The year is 1876 and William Johnson, a Yale student and the son of a wealthy shipping magnate is goaded into traveling west by a rival student, who bet a thousand dollars that privileged and sheltered William would not have what it takes to visit America’s wild and lawless frontier. Fueled by his pride, our protagonist impulsively signs on with a bone-finding expedition to the western territories, claiming himself to be a professional photographer, not realizing just how far in over his head he’s gotten himself. For you see, the expedition is led by renowned paleontologist Othniel Charles Marsh, who is embroiled in a bitter rivalry of his own. Notoriously difficult to work with, Marsh is unscrupulous and paranoid, convinced that his arch nemesis, the equally distinguished paleontologist Edwin Drinker Cope is always on his trail, ready to swoop in and steal his research.

    Unfortunately, that paranoia ultimately leads Marsh to abandon William in Wyoming, believing him to be one of Cope’s spies. In an ironic twist of fate, however, Cope himself finds our poor, confused protagonist and extends an invitation to join his own expedition, to which William has no choice but to accept. To his pleasant surprise, he winds up finding Edwin Drinker Cope to be a rather pleasant fellow, with a fearsome temper to be sure, but still nothing like the monster Marsh made him out to be. Their expedition might also be smaller and less organized, but on the whole William is much happier since he switched sides, his enthusiasm for the work increasing the more he learns. Then one day, their team stumbles upon a huge find. But in the paleontology field, the discovery of a lifetime often goes hand in hand with plenty of dangers. From the moment William decided he was going to go west, he had known he would be facing all kinds of challenges, but little did he expect just how far he would go for a pile of dusty old bones.

    Unlike Crichton’s other novels about dinosaurs, Dragon Teeth is pure historical fiction, its premise based on a frenzied period of fossil research and discovery in the late 1800s known as “The Bone Wars” or the “Great Dinosaur Rush”. It’s a fascinating topic, and I was impressed to see how deftly all the seemingly mundane details were woven into such a tight, thrilling and intense page-turner. That said, this is also a story that just begs to be told. In a time when explorers, settlers, and gold seekers were heading their way west in the hopes of striking it rich, paleontologists were instead scrambling all over the rich bone beds of the western territories, searching for fossils. Both Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope were real, and so was their feud where they infamously sought to destroy each other’s’ careers and reputations, often resorting to underhanded tactics like theft, slander and outright sabotage. While William Johnson himself may be a fictional protagonist, through his bamboozled and mystified eyes, readers are given front row seats to witness the full extent of their roaring rivalry.

    In the end though, the plot of Dragon Teeth comes down to a journey of personal growth. William is a stuck-up entitled jackass when we first meet him, used to power and money getting him whatever he wants. But the West changes him, stripping away his privilege and hardening his spirit. Far from home where no one knows or cares who he is, William quickly learns to pull his own weight and ultimately finds that there is more to life than empty materialism and shallow pleasures. Reading about his fraught adventures is just as enjoyable as reading about the history of the time and place, especially in the novel’s second half which sees the story evolving into something straight out of a Spaghetti Western. After a run in with a notorious outlaw, William even winds up allying with none other than Wyatt Earp.

    Still, I must warn that while Dragon Teeth feels very much like a complete, articulate novel, the level of detail is nowhere near that of some of Crichton’s best works. In some ways the book reads like a highly polished draft with the finished framework in place, simply waiting for the author to put more meat on its bones but of course he never got the chance. Despite characters and descriptions being a bit sparse though, the story itself does not suffer much, nor is the overall novel less readable because of it. In fact, it’s possible some readers might even prefer this straightforward and pragmatic approach and appreciate the novel’s swift, no-nonsense pacing.

    In sum, Dragon Teeth was a lot better than I thought it would be, and unlike Pirate Latitudes or Micro, I would actually recommend it. That being said, you still shouldn’t go into this expecting an epic adventure with the level of research and detail on par with the author’s more famous novels that he wrote in life, but as far as posthumously released publications go, this one was pretty damn decent.

  • Alex

    How many of these "recently discovered" manuscripts are there?!

  • Sr3yas

    So they found a mysterious manuscript after all these years? What?

    Well, Sign me up!

  • Mwanamali  Mari

    So a manuscript of Michael's, the god behind one of my favourites ever

    , had a manuscript lying in wait all along. And it really is original. No question,

  • Montzalee Wittmann

    Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton is a book of Crichton's I didn't like. I have read all of his and loved them all but this was so un-Crichton. It lacked the spark, the thrills, the adventure that kept me glued to the others. I was bored to tears and forced myself to finish it. I got this book from the library and noticed the total ratings on it was only 3 stars and wondered why, now I know.

  • Jan

    Not what I expected, but I don't think there is anything he has written that I wouldn't love.

    I was hoping this would have the feel and flavor of the Jurassic Park novel, which is one of my all time top 5 books that I have read. If you are hoping for the same thing, I can tell you unequivocally this is completely different. Are there dinosaurs? Yes, but none that have been cloned or a threat to mankind. In fact, this story takes place in the year 1876, when paleontologists didn't get near the re

    Not what I expected, but I don't think there is anything he has written that I wouldn't love.

    I was hoping this would have the feel and flavor of the Jurassic Park novel, which is one of my all time top 5 books that I have read. If you are hoping for the same thing, I can tell you unequivocally this is completely different. Are there dinosaurs? Yes, but none that have been cloned or a threat to mankind. In fact, this story takes place in the year 1876, when paleontologists didn't get near the recognition that they do today.

    Loosely based around 2 real life arch enemy paleontologists Charles Marsh and Edwin Cope, (I actually googled them once I finished) and one fictional William Johnson, the story takes place in the old wild West where 2 separate teams head out in search of dinosaur bones. William was hired on by Charles Marsh, all because of a bet, but was soon left behind as Marsh's paranoia leads him to believe that William is a spy, working for Cope.

    Cope quickly adds him to his team and they head to the Black Hills, where they make a momentous discovery. What happens after this event is nothing short of brilliant writing. From sketchy women to gun fighters, to Indians and the battle of the Crow War, William Johnson finds himself in one mess after another, all the while just trying to get himself and his dinosaur bones back home. Wyatt Earp even makes an appearance!

    This is not a book I would ever have picked up if it hadn't been written by Micheal Crichton, so don't let the lack of a terrorizing T Rex stop you from giving this a go!

    I hope they continue to find lost manuscripts, or even additional work he might have partnered on.

    This man could make a phone book entertaining!!

  • Henry Avila

    Nine years after the untimely demise of the bright Dr. Michael Crichton a good writer , more talented than many believed, his third posthumous novel Dragon Teeth, is published (he's been busier then numerous authors still technically alive) . If you're looking for an early version of Jurassic Park you will be disappointed, but this book has a feel to it that will keep you turning the page...Essentially the story of two ruthless pioneering paleontologists , historical figures, and great rivals in

    Nine years after the untimely demise of the bright Dr. Michael Crichton a good writer , more talented than many believed, his third posthumous novel Dragon Teeth, is published (he's been busier then numerous authors still technically alive) . If you're looking for an early version of Jurassic Park you will be disappointed, but this book has a feel to it that will keep you turning the page...Essentially the story of two ruthless pioneering paleontologists , historical figures, and great rivals in the 19th century, "The Bone Wars" , digging in the old , dangerous west , in canyons , hills , deserts, always lethal accidents or unfriendly incidents can occur, caused by humans both red and white, for dinosaur fossils , an ancient extinct animal, recently discovered. College professors Othniel Charles Marsh from Yale and his younger, former friend Edward Drinker Coke, from the small Quaker university in Philadelphia, Haverford, both are mad. Any underhanded trick to spoil and discredit the other is fine, they hate with a passion. Big eastern newspapers, (if you pardon the pun, had a field day with their plots) grown men , seeking glory in new finds... And loathsome childish pranks that kept readers amused. William Johnson 18, a lazy freshman at Yale, a rich man's son, quite full of himself, during the centennial celebrations of 1876, held in his hometown, Philadelphia, a short trip from the New Haven, Connecticut campus were he doesn't study...twice put in probation, wrecking private property he gets bored easily and father pays for damages...what's the big deal? Professor Marsh is taking students out west this summer, and Mr. William Johnson, not wanting to lose a bet from his nemesis a fellow arrogant student , an insufferable archenemy... so instead of a leisurely pleasant voyage to Europe and a sightseeing tramp around the continent... it becomes a dirty, awful, backbreaking dig for some old bones as the relentless sun and boss burns your hide... the Sioux are on the warpath ( if I were you, I'd stay out of Montana), all this nuisance just to show how brave he is.... Famous people he encounters, (Wyatt Earp in particular , is charismatic) on trains and western boom towns , some less known, quickly after a brief acquaintance, enter boot hill , not very happy going... Marsh and Coke he works for the unscrupulous duo, not at the same time obviously, neither one tells the truth very often or fails to kick a man when he is down. An unexpected, enjoyable romp into history, for people who like to experience the atmosphere of a bygone era and walk in other men's and women's boots. They too can join their hazardous adventures for a short duration...

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