Doctor Who: Tales of Trenzalore (Anthology)

I, for one, was not very happy with the last Matt Smith episode of Doctor Who. The Doctor stayed on Trenzalore for NINE HUNDRED YEARS??? Okay, I get that it was partially because the TARDIS was stuck (thanks, Clara), but nine hundred years is almost the Doctor’s entire lifespan up to that point, spanning twelve different incarnations. So when we get acquainted with Peter Capaldi’s Doctor, the Doctor will be about 2,100 years old? And about 43 percent of his ENTIRE life will have been spent on Trenzalore! Think of all the adventures all the Doctors have had, and then imagine them ALL taking place on one planet. What the heck went on there for nine hundred years???

Anyway, I was interested in this book because I thought it might fill in some of those gaps.

Tales of Trenzalore Cover

Tales of Trenzalore Cover (BBC Books)

THE PLOT: There are four short stories written by four different authors: Justin Richards, George Mann, Paul Finch, and Mark Morris. They take place at different times during the Doctor’s tenure on Trenzalore, and each features different citizens of Christmas and a different type of monster. We get to see Ice Warriors, the Mara, Autons, and Krynoid. A couple of the stories take place when the 11th Doctor has already aged, so…past the 700-year mark? You do not see Time Lords, Clara, or the TARDIS. (There is mention of the crack in the wall.)

MY TWO CENTS: I was familiar with two of the authors from reading other Doctor Who books, but unfamiliar with the other two authors. It was an unfamiliar author’s story I liked the least. I think the stories were most successful when they showed the Doctor in action doing something, rather than told the reader what was happening. When the Doctor had someone to talk to, you got the flavor of the Doctor much more than when the narration told you what he was doing. I think the story I liked least had far too much “telling” and not enough “showing.” However, I do think all four stories portrayed the 11th Doctor authentically.

BOTTOM LINE: I didn’t walk away from this book feeling that the gaps were filled, or even partially filled. I would say it was because it was only four stories, but the thing is, how many stories can you tell of the Doctor guarding one planet, one town, from various monsters? Without the TARDIS? without a “permanent” companion? It was an interesting read, and not painful, but not fulfilling. It didn’t give me that “Oh, so that episode WAS okay after all!” feeling I was hoping for. Maybe my perceptions of the episode made me expect too much from this book.

TEACUP RATING: I do give it three out of five teacups, because the stories were well-written and captured the spirit of the 11th Doctor. But I didn’t love it, and really recommend it only for die-hard Doctor Who fans (more specifically, die-hard 11th Doctor fans).

ON SALE DATE: E-book version is already available; paperback will release on July 3, 2014.

Note: Review is based on an ARC provided by the publisher via NetGalley in exchange for an honest review.

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