Set in 1876, Dragon Teeth by Michael Crichton is the story of William Johnson whose life gets entwined in the rivalry of paleontologists Othniel Charles Marsh and Edward Drinker Cope. William Johnson is a laidback rich boy studying at Yale who had a “devil may care” attitude towards everything in his life. He embarks upon the journey to the Wild West as a photographer with Marsh to excavate fossil bones, to win a bet. En route, circumstances force him to join Cope and his team. What follows is an adventurous journey in search of dinosaur fossils where at times Johnson’s survival is in question. First, Marsh leaves him alone at an unknown place; he is given a place in Cope’s team where he finds himself working harder than he ever had. He has multiple encounters with the native Indians. At the end of the journey he finds himself alone again where he earns his keep through his photography skills.
The novel is Michael Crichton’s lost manuscript that was discovered after his death and has been released by Harper Collins. The story canvases the fossil excavation fight between the two famous paleontologists of 19th century and also touches upon the war between the Army and native Indians in the West. This is not the world of Jurassic Park and Crichton has built this fiction around real people in the early era of bones excavation. The first person narrative is through Johnson and his hardship is presented quite humorously.
I found the beginning a bit slow but it held my interest once I crossed about 50 pages. Dragon Teeth is not a very long book and the fossil war is certainly interesting. Being an old manuscript, the narration is definitely in a different way than what we are used to reading but it is captivating.
My rating: 3.5/5