Dragon Teeth applies Michael Crichton’s skillful storytelling talent to the exciting setting of the 19th century American West. The novel tells the story of a fictional young college student, William Johnson, who is caught in the intrigues of two feuding paleontologists, Marsh and Cope. The enmity between these two fossil hunters provides an actual historical event around which Crichton weaves a narrative with threads of history and fiction, placing his own well-developed characters alongside the well-researched characters that actually populated the western towns of that era.
This novel is full of adventure, daring, and scheming, mixed with a little romance and some science, such as it was in the 1800s. Even though this book is about paleontology, and dinosaur bones figure prominently into the plot, it should not be mistaken for a prequel to the Jurassic Park novels. Aside from the general topic of dinosaurs, they are unrelated, and this book is an entirely unique creation.
Dragon Teeth is a sure winner for anyone who has enjoyed Crichton’s other works, and it is a good introduction to his work for those who have never read one because it lacks some of the ponderous scientific jargon and philosophizing which characterizes some of his works of science fiction. The action in this book is almost constant. The main character is a character who it is easy to feel sympathy for, and it was hard to put this book down, especially as the end approached. The reader becomes genuinely concerned about how various plotlines will end and the fate of certain characters. The book is thoroughly entertaining from its beginning to the end of its Afterword.
Profanity/Language: 9 religious exclamations; 28 mild obscenities; 3 religious profanities; 4 derogatory names; 1 scatological word; 2 anatomical terms.
Violence/Gore: Characters threaten each other with guns a few times; a few verbal threats; a written threat; a character coaches another about how to gunfight; a few reports of murders; report of an accidental death; report of natural disasters in history; blood on clothing is described; dead bodies are discovered a few times (in one instance, they are scalped); a few reports of a massacre; a few reports of people killed by Indians; a corpse is exhumed; mention of plan to kill animals en masse as a military strategy; report of a man shot in the head; report of a string of robberies; report of bodies being mutilated and pieces taken after death; a few reports of people being shot; a few references to the Indian Wars in the western U.S.; a joke about someone maybe being scalped; the practice of scalping is described, in passing or with gory details, a few times in a matter-of-fact way; mention of a character’s death later in the story; report of people starving; a few locations are listed as having dangerous reputations; animals cause minor property destruction; a character punches and kicks a defenseless person, with no serious injury; a character beats another into unconsciousness; many mentions of the potential for characters to be killed and/or scalped by Indians; speculation that a character’s limb may need to be amputated; a gunfight resulting in wounds and an animal death; a few gunfights resulting in death; a character dies from a previous injury; a brief gunfight resulting in a wounded character; a gunfight in which a man is wounded, a horse is killed, and property is burned; a character is discovered mortally wounded, with bloody wounds, before dying; a fight with melee weapons, guns, and arrows resulting in a few deaths and some blood and wounds described; a gory injury and the first aid procedure used to treat it are described.
Sex/Nudity: A young man is shy around ladies; report of an old man who pursues young ladies romantically; report that man “sullied the reputation” of a girl; a joke about someone being bitten while kissed; a character laments that there are not more girls at his summer destination; report of someone cheating on his wife; a man is traveling to California to meet the woman he loves; prostitutes (called “nymphs du pave”) line a street; “petticoat flouncing” is mentioned in a theater dance; women in scanty costumes allow men to put money in their clothing; characters kiss a few times; characters of the opposite gender share a hotel room and sex is discreetly implied; subtle reference to a man’s sexual endowment; a character is smitten with love at first sight for a girl; characters kiss on the cheek a few times; a character caresses another in an area not normally covered by a bathing suit; mention of a past love affair; mention of a historical figure having multiple wives; report that a group mutilates their enemies after death by removing genitalia; mention of a whorehouse; report of a woman following the military as a prostitute; reference to a dildo.
Mature Subject Matter:
Report of businessman engaging in spiritism; the conflict between religion/creationism and evolution; gambling; vandalism; government corruption; racial discrimination (against Native Americans and Chinese); prostitution; bribery; death (friend).
Alcohol / Drug Use:
Characters smoke cigars and cigarettes; a character smokes opium (mention); a character chews tobacco; characters drink liquor and wine.