BOOK REVIEW: Tales of Trenzalore

Tales of Trenzalore
by Justin Richards, George Mann, Paul Finch and Mark Morris

Out now

Review by Nick Fraser

During The Time of The Doctor, the prophesies and puzzles swirling around The Eleventh Doctor finally coalesced, rooting the mercurial Time Lord in the town of Christmas for his last stand. Surrounded by hostile forces and protected only by the Church of the Papal Mainframe’s technology barrier, The Doctor’s war of attrition on the fields of Trenzalore began.

Previously available only as an e-book, Tales of Trenzalore appears in the more traditional format of a paperback, though comprising just four short stories set during The Doctor’s off-screen battles, it’s not a chunky read. Even so it’s an entertaining one, describing the ingenious attempts by the last Time Lord’s enemies to evade the technology barrier and break the siege.

Within the limits of the short story form, the four Tales authors each do a splendid job of expanding the myth of the Fall of the Eleventh. Aside from the occasional appearance of “Handles”, The Doctor is assisted by generations of Trenzaloreans, bound to their protector in adversity. It’s a striking feature of these short stories the extent to which the Doctor, the inveterate wanderer in time and space, becomes grounded within the affections of the Christmas townsfolk, and vice versa.

The cover of the book is rather a giveaway regarding the identities of the protagonists of the four tales, but there’s still much fun to be had in trying to work out how Krynoids, Autons, Ice Warriors and The Mara might achieve their mission. And with the limitations imposed upon him – the truth field (“when no living creature can speak falsely or fail to answer”), the crack in the universe behind which Gallifrey lurks and the implications of the answer being given to the question: Doctor Who? – The Doctor’s task is a heroic one.

My personal favourite of the four tales is the last, from Mark Morris, pitting the battered, battle-weary and decrepit Time Lord against the youth and vigour embodied by The Mara. However each of the adventures rattles along at a great, page-turning pace. With plenty of scope for further adventures to be told (nine centuries’ worth), this is a welcome addition to any bookshelf, filling in the time while we wait for the New Guy’s arrival…

Thanks to BBC Books

Review by Nick Fraser