(2015) Trevor Baxendale, BBC Books, £6.99, hrdbk, 253pp, ISBN 978-1-849-90990-7
This is the third book in a trilogy titled the 'Glamour Chronicles' featuring the 12th Doctor and his companion, Clara. This and two previous novels in the series (Royal Blood and Big Bang Generation) are based loosely around the Glamour, an entity in question is described as “the most desirable—and dangerous—artefact in the universe”. This novel opens on a spacecraft where each of the crewmembers have a purpose for being there and their own agenda. This could be adventure, science or a sense of purpose. They have travelled to the edge of the galaxy to discover the secrets of the Phaeron and the last road this race left behind, constructed of time and space.
The structure of this novel starts with a need for each of the characters to introduce themselves, which in itself is perfect for scene setting. While this allows the primary purpose for each of the characters to be revealed, it does it in such a way that it enables the hidden agendas and perspectives of each to be slowly unravelled as the story progresses.
One of the more interesting characters is Jem, a genetically modified space navigator who uses her mind as a navigation device. While she comes across as very fragile and mysterious, her character development proves to be extremely satisfying with a surprising inner strength. One of the crew is set on finding the Carthage, the ship his mother served on which has been his mission in life since she disappeared. Without revealing too much, there is a satisfying conclusion to this story and one that fits neatly in with the drama unfolding.
The crew find themselves in ever changing rifts of time, fighting for survival as they gradually realise what is happening to the environment around them as they find a way to survive. There are some genuinely chilling moments, big reveals and answers to mysteries posed as the story progresses. The character observations of what is happening around them set the scene in such a way the reader gradually becomes acclimatised to what is going on around them.
One element of the Doctor Who TV show I have had issue with is the use of Clara and the Capaldi version of the Doctor in the episodes, but this definitely was not the case in this book. The author had her character pitched perfectly in her interactions with the Doctor and with the crewmembers. They very much complimented each other and Clara’s interaction with the crew works well and adds much needed depth and opportunity to do so.
The nature of the Glamour is revealed, although not in a way that provides enough detail to gain a full understanding of what the Glamour is – apart from it being the very definition of wanting. A far more interesting subject matter is the Phaeron themselves, the nature of whom are revealed in a well paced manner as the story unfolds. Personally, I very much enjoyed the way the story of the Phaeron unfolded and the way it was paced. This would appeal to Doctor Who fans and it seems that not a great deal of knowledge of the show is needed – although a little would help.
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