I found The Empire of Glass to be a highly entertaining outing for the first Doctor, Vicki and Steven. Characterizations of these three main character...moreI found The Empire of Glass to be a highly entertaining outing for the first Doctor, Vicki and Steven. Characterizations of these three main characters seemed pretty well in keeping with the original series and Lane does an excellent job of bringing its historical setting (Venice in 1609) and the array of historical figures (which includes Shakespeare, Galileo Galilei and King James I) to life.(less)
The Doctor Trap is a fairly competent page turner in the range of Doctor Who tie-in novels but while it has some decent action sequences I did not fin...moreThe Doctor Trap is a fairly competent page turner in the range of Doctor Who tie-in novels but while it has some decent action sequences I did not find it to be either particularly moving or fascinating in its complicated plotting.
Messingham manages to capture the Ninth Doctor's tangents and energy and does give us a good take on what it means to be a fan but the story does little with Donna, trapping her in a travel inn for almost all of the book.(less)
The Doctor and his companions Rory and Amy arrive in a village that does not seem to make sense. There are no roads connecting it to the outside world...moreThe Doctor and his companions Rory and Amy arrive in a village that does not seem to make sense. There are no roads connecting it to the outside world and the fixtures and fittings in the houses have not been completed. It is all very strange and the explanation, which we receive quite early in the novel, is a satisfying one. It is however only the start of the adventure for the Doctor as he must prevent a massacre, the death of his companions and the start of a war between the United States and the Soviet Union.
I cannot think of another New Series Adventure that is quite as ambitious as Oli Smith’s Nuclear Time. Not content with a narrative structure that moves backwards and forwards in time, Smith also has the Doctor experiencing events backwards. It is an intriguing concept and at times it can be quite effective, though there were points when I was wondering if it all makes sense (and even now I cannot be entirely sure that it does).
As for their characterizations – well, the Doctor is a pretty good match for the Matt Smith portrayal and though Smith catches Amy’s speech style most of the time odd lines occasionally ring false. Rory however is a different case, seeming too assertive and confident – particularly for a story set during Series 5. It is not enough to derail the story, particularly given how the two characters are so inconsequential for most of it, but it did mean the sequences they get together never quite convinced me.
The secondary characters are more interesting. I liked that there really isn’t a villain to the piece – this is not an evil scientist story (or an evil military story) but rather a story in which events have spiraled out of these characters’ control. Accordingly those characters’ motivations are actually quite interesting and I appreciated that there are aspects to both Geoff and Albert that are quite sad, giving the story some moving moments, particularly towards the end of the novel.
Which brings me on to one of the biggest problems with the story: really after page 80 Rory and Amy become pretty irrelevant to what happens as they are no longer in sync with the Doctor’s timeline. Though Smith takes the time to update us on what the pair are up to, those sequences mostly consist of them running around the village trying to avoid being killed. This quickly becomes repetitive and the sequences only serve to slow the story down.
It is this uneven pacing that ultimately sunk the novel for me and made it such a frustrating read. I enjoyed discovering just what has happened to cause the events that the Doctor, Rory and Amy become trapped in but I couldn’t shake the feeling that a third of the novel feels wasted and that, if this had been an adventure with the Doctor travelling solo, this story could have been so much better.(less)
One of the aspects of the Doctor Who tie-in novels that I appreciate most is that many of them are set in places that the television series would have...moreOne of the aspects of the Doctor Who tie-in novels that I appreciate most is that many of them are set in places that the television series would have trouble showing us. Mark Morris’ Ghosts of India is a good case in point, giving us an adventure set in 1940s India in the weeks leading up to the implementation of home rule. It is a violent and turbulent period and Morris does a good job of explaining the tensions in a way that younger readers will be able to understand without slowing down or overwhelming his narrative.
This exotic setting is married to a fairly conventional Who plot in which the Doctor discovers monsters are abducting people from the city and tracks down the aliens responsible. This could make the 1940s Indian setting little more than an elaborate set dressing as there is nothing in the alien plan that is specific to India. While the plotting did not really take full advantage of the setting, I did think it enhanced the character interactions between the Doctor and Donna and the interactions with Gandhi helped to demonstrate and emphasize the Doctor’s own personality and approach to conflict. Critically Morris does an excellent job of capturing the unique voices of the Tennant Doctor and his companion Donna without simply regurgitating their catchphrases from the show. He seems to have a real grasp on what makes each tick; their decisions feel entirely in keeping with who they are.
Unfortunately the novel, which begins strongly, starts to fall apart in the conclusion. The means by which the villain is defeated seems quite arbitrary, while some damage caused gets reversed with a line of technobabble to have everything wrap up neatly. After chapters of careful, character-focused build-up, this ending felt rushed.
While I was disappointed with the ending however, Morris had me engaged throughout with his excellent portrayals of the Doctor and Donna, as well as a strong cast of supporting characters. I look forward to reading some of his other Who novels in the future and would certainly recommend this book to fans of the series (and particularly this TARDIS team). (less)
Though I don't think it worked in its entirety, I found Gary Russell's The Glamour Chase to be one of the more satisfying entries in the eleventh Doct...moreThough I don't think it worked in its entirety, I found Gary Russell's The Glamour Chase to be one of the more satisfying entries in the eleventh Doctor tie-in novel series.
I really appreciated the spot-on characterization of the Doctor and Rory here and I loved that Russell took the opportunity to flesh out the latter in a way that felt consistent with his character in several sequences. Fans of Amy are likely to be disappointed though that her role in this story is pretty small, though Russell's portrayal is very good when she does appear.
The story, which concerns an archaeological dig in the 1930s that is on the verge of discovering an alien craft, is interesting but what elevates the tale is the alien race (The Weave) that Russell created for this novel. They are true originals - I can think of nothing quite like them in the show's history, let alone these novels - and feel completely alien, both in terms of their physical appearance and also their technology.
So what didn't work for me? Well, I found it hard to envisage exactly what the glamour was and what it could do. I'd also add that the story doesn't twist and turn quite as effectively as it might do as a couple of the character identity revelations can be guessed several chapters before they are revealed, leaving them feeling a little redundant.
Still, in spite of these nitpicks the novel had me engaged from start to close and left me looking forward to Russell's next contribution to the series.(less)
I can't say that I was aching for another Krillitane story before reading this book. Actually, it took me a fair few pages before I remembered exactly...moreI can't say that I was aching for another Krillitane story before reading this book. Actually, it took me a fair few pages before I remembered exactly which story they had been in before - clearly they were not an alien that made much of an impact on me.
Still, this story actually turned out to be a highly entertaining one. Cooper does a great job of pacing the adventure and the decision to set it during the Stephen and Matilda power struggle works very well, mirroring other developments in the plot.
All in all, one of the more satisfying books in the series for me.(less)
I wanted to enjoy this Doctor Who tie-in novel which had grabbed my attention with its interesting title that had me hoping for a high fantasy romp. U...moreI wanted to enjoy this Doctor Who tie-in novel which had grabbed my attention with its interesting title that had me hoping for a high fantasy romp. Unfortunately however the title, while a good one, had mislead me and left me wishing I had read the story I imagined rather than the story presented.
The Doctor, Rory and Amy arrive in a land famed for its long-standing peace and democratic society, only to learn that it is now ruled by a king and a storyteller who tells of how the king arrived in the city with an enormous golden statue of a dragon. The trio quickly realizes that all is not as it seems and that the statue is not of that world. And then aliens show up and the Doctor must decide who to give the statue to.
McCormack does a decent job of capturing the eleventh Doctor and his two companions. Rory is a little more assertive here than he is in the television show but that can be explained away by the statue's strange influence and in any case it seems to work for these novels. Amy is a little less lively than she is portrayed on screen though McCormack keeps her acting firmly within character.
As for the residents of Geath and their alien visitors, they are competently written but feel a little loosely drawn with the exception of the storyteller character.
While The King's Dragon does little wrong (other than employing a misleading title), I could never really engage with its story which seemed bland to me. It is certainly worth a look though for fans of the show.(less)
In spite of Judgement of the Judoon featuring a return appearance by one of my favorite returning aliens from the new television series, I found the n...moreIn spite of Judgement of the Judoon featuring a return appearance by one of my favorite returning aliens from the new television series, I found the novel to be hard going and ultimately quite unrewarding. Though the adventure's set up was fun, particularly the 'buddy cop' dynamic of the sequences in which the Doctor works with the Judoon leader to try to save the day, it was let down by its simplicity and predictability.
Much of the novel seems to be building up to a couple of 'shock' revelations that take place near the end and yet the relatively small selection of characters made guessing those twists easy. The result was that when answers came they felt bland, removing any sense of emotional punch from the story's concluding sequences.
I was also surprised at how weak the characterization of the Tennant Doctor was here. Most of the dialogue the character is given seems fairly bland and, as if to compensate, Brake splatters a handful of expressions from the series into dialogue. The occassional cry of 'allonsy' is fine but remove that and the references to a little shop and this Doctor becomes almost devoid of personality. Given that this novel was produced late in Tennant's tenure it surprised me that the portrayal here felt so generic in spots.
It is in its earliest chapters that the novel, and Brake's characterization of the Tennant Doctor, feels most effective as the character expresses his anger at the clumsy and heavy-handed approach the Judoon take to law enforcement. I particularly enjoyed the prologue which was atmospheric and does a nice job of illustrating precisely who the Judoon are and what they do. I did appreciate too that later chapters allow us to spend time with a Judoon character whose personality is perhaps not what we wold expect based on these early scenes.
While I was ultimately disappointed with this novel I do suspect that many of the elements that disappointed me would not prove so damaging to younger readers' enjoyment.(less)