(2015) Una McCormack, BBC Books, £6.99, hrdbk, 237pp, ISBN 978-1-849-90992-1
The Glamour in question is described as “the most desirable—and dangerous—artefact in the universe” and provides a link to this and two other Dr Who novels (Big Bang Generation and Deep Time). This book is set is set in an era with a castle, crumbling and in need of repair, yet the inhabitants of Varuz have technology beyond their comprehension.
The inhabitants perceive the Doctor (Peter Capaldi) to be some kind of Holy Man, capable of blessing their intent for war. The war in question is with a stronger force from beyond the mountains who are far stronger and whose invasion is dreaded. The intent for conflict is not shared with the majority of the population, which does not bode well for The Doctor and Clara. As a result of their becoming involved, they are left in an unenviable situation where they are exiled and come face to face with Lancelot and his knights looking for the Holy Grail. It is a seemingly impossible situation which makes it a definite page turner and the conversational, observational writing style certainly keeps the story moving along.
There are so many questions to be answered – the nervousness of the enemy’s ambassador, who the ancient knights looking for the Holy Grail are, why does there seem to e a plot to overthrow the Duke... and what is with the presence of laser swords and electric candlelight?While it did take me a little time to fully appreciate the setting, it was the dialogue and the switches of points of view that added an element of fun and insight. The observations of the characters of Varuz add their own dimensions. For example, the statement that Clara comes from a very different time and environment. She has another involvement too in the plot to stop Aurelian from going to war and how this plays out has a fun element of suspense. These questions and mysteries represent a genuine strength of this novel, it makes the reader want to know more and to get beneath the surface.
There was a 12th Doctor television episode set in a realm of castles and the like, so it was interesting to see how this held up to that episode. The answer is that it certainly makes the subject matter it’s own. The fantasy setting that works well, mainly given the style of writing and the characterisations of the Doctor and Clara. One criticism would be that the Doctor needed to be used a little bit more in this story. There were also several characters in the story I would have liked to have seen more of given the nature of scenes unfolding which could possibly have provided a little more depth.
I was not entirely sure of what to expect with this novel as it is the first Doctor Who novel featuring Peter Capaldi’s incarnation of the Doctor I have come across personally, and I am pleased to say it is quite an enjoyable read. It is not all that long, but manages to pack a great deal of fun, drama and adventure into its content.
This book will naturally appeal to Doctor Who fans and in particularly anyone with a liking for the medieval era with a bit of quirkiness thrown in. I would happily read this again – it is great fun and well recommended. While the involvement of the Glamour added a little to the story in hand, I felt it worked well as a stand alone novel.
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