Follow TV Tropes


Literature / Primitive War

Go To
First book cover

Primitive War is a military sci-fi series written by Ethan Pettus which takes place during the Cold War.

The premise of the first book is the following:

A search and rescue team known as Vulture Squad is sent to an isolated jungle valley to uncover the fate of a missing Green Beret platoon. As they hunt through the primordial depths of the valley, they discover ancient horrors that not only threaten to unravel their minds, but to end their lives as well. When the casualties mount, the men of Vulture Squad must abandon their human nature and give in to their savage instincts in order to survive...the Primitive War.

Being set during some of the most violent conflicts of the Cold War (The Vietnam War in the first novel and The Hunting of Stalker Force, and the Angolan Civil War in the sequel), it features a lot of graphic violence, adult language, drug use, and references to war-related tragedies. The series is also notable for having dinosaurs and other prehistoric species being depicted in a mostly scientifically accurate fashion.


In addition to the main series of novels, there are an illustrated bestiary and an anthology series called Primitive War: Dispatches.

Main series:

1. Primitive War: Opiate Undertow (2017)

2. Primitive War II : Animus Infernal (2020)

3. Primitive War III: Aeon Ouroboros (TBA)

Spin-offs/Companion Books:

1. The Primitive War Bestiary (2018)

2. Primitive War Dispatches Volume I - The Hunting of Stalker Force (2019)

3. Primitive War Dispatches Volume II - The Saraph of Simurgh (To be Released in 2022)


This series provides examples of:

  • Apocalypse Cult: Ordo Ouroboros serves as one for Primitive War II and onward. They're a secret cabal that wish to return the world to a "Garden of Eden" and are secretly responsible for the events of the first two Primitive War books
  • Apocalypse How: Leans towards Planetary-scale Societal Collapse near the end of Primitive War II as multiple Colliders had been built around the globe and have all been sabotaged by Ordo Ouroboros to detonate, either destroying the infrastructure or releasing dinosaurs into the wild.
  • Artistic License – Biology: In Animus Infernal, the three-toed footprints of the Carnotaurus is described as being identical to an ostrich's only bigger. Ostriches have only two toes per foot. An emu would have been a better comparison.
  • Artistic License – History: The dinosaurs are all referred by their taxonomic names, even when those names were not coined until well after the Vietnam War in Real Life.
  • Artistic License – Paleontology: for all the accuracy given, the book does still have its fair share of inaccuracies:
    • Both Utahraptor and Kaprosuchus are heavily oversized, the former being 2 feet taller than it’s real life counterpart and the latter being nearly three times the size of the real animal.
    • Kaprosuchus is depicted with long legs, when its placement within Notisuchia implies it would have legs slightly longer than modern crocodilians.
    • Sinornithosaurus is depicted as venomous, which is based on misconception.
    • It's unlikely Quetzalcoatlus had an extendable tongue, since such organs are rare in archosaurs, and only found in highly derived birds such as woodpeckers and hummingbirds, and in Alvarezsaurs such as Shuvuuia which have specialized bony structures to support them.
    • The human characters somehow know the names of many animals that, in real life, were unknown at the time the books take place, such as Yutyrannus, Utahraptor, Sinornithosaurus, and Kaprosuchus.
  • Badass Crew: The Vulture Squad and Stalker Force.
  • Barbarian Long Hair: Xavier has some.
  • Big Bad: Soviet general Borodin is this in the first novel. The Axis Mundis mercenary Pardus serves as one for the sequel.
  • Bittersweet Ending: The first primitive war ends with Vulture Squad destroying the secondary collider built within the valley to make sure either more dinosaurs don't pop out or a blackhole doesn't engulf the planet but they still need to ensure that the dinosaurs don't escape the valley and the end of Dispatches Volume 1 makes it obvious that the dinosaurs are managing to escape the valley. Primitive War II leans heavily into the Bitter side as Stalker Force is killed off and Ordo Ouroboros succeeds in sabotaging other colliders around the world, either destroying or unleashing dinosaurs all across the planet. It only avoids a Downer Ending due to Andrei knowing the coordinates of their hidden base and Eli, one of the original members of Vulture Squad, will probably lead the charge against Ordo Ouroboros.
  • Cruel and Unusual Death:
    • Tolstoy. He may be a jingoistic Jerkass but being torn apart by a Quetzacoatlus's tongue is... eugh
    • Poor Logan, devoured by a horde of Kaprosuchus.
    • Borodin is dragged back to the utahraptor nest and disemboweled so that the utahraptor chicks can crawl inside of him and eat his organs while he's still alive.
    • Ben Williams is fatally poisoned by a Sinornithosaurus and is in constant pain before Nyugen finishes him off.
    • Josef is horribly mangled by a Carnotaur. He is barely alive and can only communicate through writting before the boat Axis Mundi commandeers is attacked by Two Suchomimuses.
  • Curb-Stomp Battle:
    • The Yutyrannus pair easily slaughter a group of four utahraptors when they first appear. However, this is mainly because they had the advantage of surprise.
    • The preview of Animus Infernal shows a Carcharodontosaurus easily killing a pair of Carnotaurus. Not surprising, given the size difference between the two animals.
  • Dark and Troubled Past: Given the setting, several of the main characters didn't exactly acted like saints in previous operations and the life of some before the war wasn't of the most pleasant.
  • Death from Above: The Deinonychus drops on their prey from tree branches. The Quetzalcoatlus roams the skies of the Vietnamese valley where the story takes place and attacks people on several occasions.
  • Disposable Women: Women are only ever notable in the story if they die and cause character growth for one of the male soldiers, even in the second book where Zosimus returns to his old tribe, his mother had been killed long ago to cause his disillusionment with the tribe leaving his father as the one to bring him back into life with the tribe.
  • The Dreaded:
    • The Yutyrannus in The Hunting of Stalker Force are this to the Utahaptors as they systematically exterminate the packs of raptors they found.
    • The Utahraptors themselves are this to the humans who have to deal with them. Strong, fast, numerous, and highly intelligent, they are the greatest single threat to the valley and the wider world.
  • General Ripper: Both Borodin and Jericho falls under this trope.
  • Genre-Busting: The series mixes Vietnam War fictions and dinosaur horror.
  • Genre Throwback: Vietnam War films.
  • Gentle Giant Sauropod:
    • Amargasaurus appears in The Hunting of Stalker Force and are depicted as relatively peaceful animals.
    • The Giraffatitan from Animus Infernal also count, with a Carcharodontosaurus taking a full grown adult down with very little effort inspite of the size difference.
  • Gorn: This series has a lot of gore.
  • Goofy Feathered Dinosaur: Averted entirely. A majority of the scariest dinosaurs are feathered, including all of the Dromaeosaurs and Tyrannosaurs.
  • It Can Think: The Utahraptors consistently show intelligence well above that of other dinosaurs. Near the end of Animus Infernal, they show the capacity to "negotiate" with other packs and even bury their dead, suggesting a near-human intellect.
  • Kill the Cutie: The nurse who tends to Leon gets shot.
  • Lost World: Subverted. The valley seems to be this at first but it’s later revealed that the prehistoric creatures encountered arrived in modern time thanks to a Soviet particle accelerator malfunction.
  • Mama Bear:
    • The female of the T. rex couple.
    • Mother Gaia the Carcharodontosaurus from Animus Infernal is deeply protective of her infant Prometheus. Most impressively, when the male Carcharodontosaurus Goliath attacks Prometheus, the Mother Gaia attacks the Goliath in a rage and ultimately kills him.
  • Misplaced Wildlife: Done deliberately. Most of the dinosaurs are from different places and times and would never have met each other under normal conditions. On top of that, none of them were actually from Vietnam. This is because they arrived in the present through a man-made wormhole that led to multiple points in the past.
  • More Deadly Than the Male: Seen in Cryolophosaurus, which lives in matriarchal prides consisting of a female and several males. The females are a few feet longer and about half a ton heavier than the males. Curiously, no other dinosaurs show this kind of sexual dimorphism.
  • New Meat: Leon is a recent addition to the Vulture Squad.
  • Never Smile at a Crocodile: The Kaprosuchus.
  • Papa Wolf: The male of the T. rex couple.
  • Raptor Attack:
    • Subverted. The Utahraptor and Deinonychus packs are fast, intelligent, and quite brutal predators; but they are also superb climbers, can hunt solo as well as they can in packs, and are entirely covered in accurate feathers.
    • The Sinornithosaurus from the second book are portrayed as vampiric parasites similar to oxpeckers, with anti-coagulants in their saliva and hemotoxic venom. This is based on a real, but now disproven, hypothesis that Sinornithosaurus was venomous.
  • Red Right Hand: The alpha Utahraptor "Sobek" gets his name from the Kaprosuchus teeth embedded in his head and face. Similarly, "Cyclops" has a knife stuck in one eye. Probably most prominent is Xipetotec, a Utahraptor with burn scars from a napalm strike covering most of his body.
  • Shell-Shocked Veteran: A given due to the setting. A number of the characters, such as Logan, shows PTSD.
  • Shout-Out:
    • The first Primitive War isn't shy of making lots of refferences to Jurassic Park. Dispatches Vol. 1 doubles down on this with characters like "Alan Malcolm" and "Grant Robelle"
    • The Yutyrannus treatment in The Hunting of Stalker Force is similar to that of the Carnotaurus from The Lost World (1995) as they are nocturnal predators with camouflage abilities feared by the raptors.
  • Shown Their Work: The dinosaurs are, with few exceptions, remarkably accurate with all of the Tyrannosaurs and Dromaeosaurs sporting feathers.
  • Social Ornithopod: Parasaurolophus are depicted as being gregarious.
  • Temper-Ceratops: The Triceratops and Pachyrhinosaurus are portrayed as very defensive creatures. A bull Pachyrhinosaurus manages to best the Carcharodontosaurus Goliath in battle.
  • The Vietnam War: The setting.
  • Xenofiction: The Hunting of Stalker Force has some chapters dedicated to the POV of the Utahraptors.
  • Zerg Rush: Deinonychus, Kaprosuchus, and Utahraptor often attack this way.