To be honest, the 11th Doctor was one of the Doctor I didn’t quite attune with mostly because his whole story revolve around him rather than the simplistic 9th and 10th theme of travelling around the universe, exploring and finding new people and get into trouble. It did began like that but by the end of the 5th, 6th and 7th series, its really just about the Doctor saving the world with his wit and smarts and a wish of the sonic screwdriver and his lovely companions. However, the original series does feel disjointed through the years which was enough that made this Trenzalore novelization book seemingly okay to be read by non-Whovians. Because really, the short stories doesn’t revolve around the Doctor but rather what happen to the Trenzalorean’s lives with the Doctor in it and the invaders that didn’t seem to have anything more than a mission to try to end the Doctor’s life, again. Basically a series refresher 101 all over again.
The Trenzalore story arc was compressed in 2013’s Christmas story, basically during the Trenzalore seige and Doctor’s spending several decades defending Trenzalore’s town, Christmas. One of my main issue with the story was introduction of many monster characters that made the superhero plot predictable. Basically, you introduce a monster and the Doctor talk some weird thing and with a clever deus ex machina, everyone was saved. Which is the common thread shared by the short stories; Let it Snow by Justin Richards, An Apple a Day by George Mann, Strangers in the Outland by Paul Finch and The Dreaming by Mark Morris.
Despite being standalone stories, it wasn’t much a necessary read as I thought it would be. I do like Mark Morris’ writing more although I can’t say the same with the rest of the shorts. I always felt I am detached from the Doctor as a character by Matt Smith but I felt it even more with this mini-stories. I’m sure the whole multiple alien invasion is fascinating to some but what I was expecting was an enhanced experience of Doctor’s life in Trenzalore, I’m not really interested with “Monster came and Doctor saved the day” which was overused so so so many time with 11th. I know its supposed to be a fantasy and not full science fiction but still, the Doctor is just a time lord and Moffat apparently think having too many time lords made the Doctor extra non-special. What?
Then again, with Tales of Trenzalore, I would be more interested if the story was an actual prolonged interpretation of “The Time of the Doctor”. I mean, Doctor’s relationship with Handles or more story with Tasha Lem, the mysteries of Trenzalore (its a PLANET!), his actual relationships with the actual characters like Clara, Barnables, the residents other than the guy who hated the Doctor for existing in a period where invasion happen all over and over. I mean, seriously, nobody think of a short of a first POV Clara stuck with Tardis or even put some similarities with the John Barrowman? Or River Song cameo? Oh, and those Weeping Angels! No? Heck, why not put some time agents or something. Or somebody to write the novelizations as an attempt to address the ginormous plot holes the story skip around these few years. I was really anticipating that more. The Doctor isn’t a one dimensional character, he had a dozen personalities and you can have a free run with them. Why couldn’t the official novelizations explore more sides of the Doctor other than procedural comic book superhero trope? Oh, I forgot, this is internet and we have more fanfics.
The ARC is provided by the publisher via Netgalley in exchange for an honest review.