Doctor Who Paperback – February 5, 2015
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|Paperback, February 5, 2015||
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The plot is a bit swiss cheese and the world setting doesn't make logical sense. As many times as I see the trope, I still get annoyed when the Doctor arrives on a "medieval planet" where there has been no advance of technology for eons. It feels narrow and claustrophobic. For cryin' out loud, why not just set it in medieval Europe?
The supporting cast was a mixed bag. Their motivations and demeanor seemed to shift wildly without much justification. Yes I know they were under the influence of, well, stuff. Even taking that into account, the behavior of the original characters didn't make sense half the time, and after a while, I stopped caring.
McCormack gets some points back when she deals with Amy, Rory and the Doctor. In fact, I could happily read an entire novel expanding on the scenes with the Doctor and Rory stuck in one another's company.
"The King's Dragon" also suffers from poor title syndrome. Don't throw the word 'dragon' around like that - it's a bait and switch. I wanted a dragon, but all I got was a (inanimate) statue. Also, sadly, it took about halfway through the book for me to confirm that indeed, the dragon was an inanimate statue - so poorly was it described.
All in all it's a decent first draft that needed the services of a strong and honest editor before it hit our bookshelves.
Notably the story takes some digs at the popular scifi concept of the Prime Directive - how an advanced culture should or should not interact with a far less advanced one.
It prickles (and sometimes confuses) in its Old English/Beowulf roots and influences. Sometimes the connection is more baffling as to why it is the best backdrop for the story than it is captivating or evocative.
The use and distribution of technology is diffuse and rather willy-nilly. I'd like to explain further but I loathe spoilers. Suffice it to say that sometimes it just seems thrown together (literally) rather than cohesive and integral. The TARDIS is practically non-existent and the sonic is basically a prop. Psychic paper plays the biggest role of any of the Doctor's usual tools. None of these are employed in any surprising fashion.
I have to say that I had a hard time caring for a lot of the non-marquee characters here. They were a bit flat and predictable. And the Doctor didn't have any particularly exciting moments of brilliance - and admits as much, literally, during the course of one of the heightened action sequences.
This is another Doctor novel ("Autonomy" comes immediately to mind) replete with the awkward and nondescript British phrase "pulled a face." Can we please put a stop to this? Every other page a character is "pulling a face." Are they confused? Angry? Sad? You don't know. They're just "pulling a face." Stop it. Please.
I'm giving it four stars because it was entertaining, though compared with some of its fine Doctor brethren novels, it probably deserves a three.
The danger feels weak. The villains do not feel like villains. Even the Doctor seems off - true, this is set during Matt Smith's first season as the Doctor and I believe his version was meant to be a tad confusing. Still, the danger of Enamour is not made very clear. Was it a weapon or a form of slave collar or slave suit? Also the idea of an ancient civil war seems to be a tad over-used and made me just shrug. How many ancient wars, slave revolts, dark empires are there in Doctor Who? Or in science fiction in general? They really do not impress me and I was looking for something more interesting. Frankly, real dragons or magic may have been to way to go - you know, give the Doctor something he REALLY never confronted before.
This novel wasn't fantastic nor was it completely terrible. It was just average.
The author writes the trio very well, especially Rory. If you ship Rory/Amy you'll be in for a treat because there were a few make-out scenes between the couple.
The plot was also almost an exact copy of Beowulf so be prepared for that. Perhaps that was a big reason why I disliked this book. I love my fairytale retellings, but I am not a fan of Beowulf by any means.
Top international reviews
It must be relatively early on in the Tardis for Rory; not long after ‘The Vampires of Venice’, the events of which are fresh in his mind. The author has him exhibiting a lot of awe and wonder at his surroundings. There wasn’t much chance for this in the programme as he didn’t really go anywhere3 off Earth before his ‘demise’ in ‘Cold Blood’. It is, therefore, a nice touch for the author to play on this.
The initial stages of the novel are quite intriguing due to the setting being a mix of medieval and fantasy. Unfortunately this world lacks depth as we see very little of it apart from the city of Geath. The science fiction elements of the story take over quickly and things dully descend into an office meeting about administration and procedures. The fantasy style locale soon becomes irrelevant. There isn’t the subtle merging of science fiction touches that enrich the world in the way of ‘The Curse of Peladon’ or ‘The Androids of Tara’. Despite initial impressions this is a science fiction story rather than a fantasy or quasi-historical one.
Likewise, there’s also a quite spooky prologue, but the atmosphere of that is never recaptured, disappointingly.
Despite expectations the novel is light on dragons. Although it is an integral and vital part of the story, the ‘dragon’ is more of a plot artifice than anything. It is less of a dragon than that which appears in ‘Dragonfire’.
One of the interesting aspects of the story is that there aren’t really any villains as such. A strange metallic element, Enamour, has entranced people/aliens to act irrationally and the confrontations of the novel arte a result of this. It is clear that Amy and Rory are not immune to its charms and there is a hint that the Doctor isn’t either. How blinded people can become by wealth is, perhaps, a moral element to this novel that is somewhat underplayed.
It runs for two hundred and forty four pages of quite large print and is divided into thirteen chapters.
It's suitable for readers of all ages and the characterisation of the three characters is spot on, giving you no problems imagining the actors saying the dialogue.
The story sees the TARDIS arrive on a world with a pre-industrial society and the Doctor and friends visit the beautiful main city there. Only to find that all is not as it should be. The elected leader has lost their place to a King who got the position after allegedly slaying a Dragon. The city is rich in gold. Which isn't usually found there.
The lure of precious metal and threats from above mean a long and memorable night lies ahead for the time travellers...
It is rather nice to have a pre-industrial society in the story, as it's not something the books in this range have tried before. So makes this nicely different from the off. Whilst feeling at first a little like something out of the quick read range of Doctor who books this then does manage to get going quite nicely, by virtue of the fact that it's strongly character based. There are three main supporting characters, all of whom manage to be strong characters in their own rights and the plot then develops as a result of their actions.
With a few good twists and turns after that the story does keep moving and developing and manages to keep the reader nicely involved to the end. An above average entry in the range and well worth a look.
And really, it's a case of find the artifact, decide who to give the artifact back to and return to the TARDIS. Sound familiar?
Generally speaking, Una McCormack wrote an okay story spread across 240 pages which would have been better suited as a short story for Big Finish's Short Trips series - except the series of books has been cancelled...maybe that was why it was made into 240 pages and published by BBC Books???
If you're a Doctor Who fan who travels on the bus or underground then this book is ideal - it is easy to pick up and put down - but if you want a real gritty novel to read snuggled up under the duvet then...er...well, the choice is up to you!
A stocking filler maybe...?