Doctor Who: Tales of Trenzalore is a series of short stories that take place during the long centuries Matt Smith’s Doctor spent alone on Trenzalore, protecting the town of Christmas. There is certainly a great deal of story potential in the setting and the inherent melancholy of the concept and slow aging of the Doctor, especially since the episode itself only had time for vignettes. The tie-in novels here have an opportunity to expand on what was on screen in a way that they haven’t since probably the Target Novelizations.
I should mention at this point, if it isn’t already obvious, that I am a Doctor Who fan and that it is nearly impossible for me to approach this book objectively. For one thing, despite the criticism the episode has come under, I maintain that the idea of the youngest Doctor ever regenerating because he aged to death is one of the most brilliant regeneration concepts yet. Of course, a tie-in novel taking place within Matt Smith’s final episode that includes returning monsters from across Doctor Who’s 50-year catalogue is not really intended for the uninitiated. I should also point out that although I have read a huge amount of Doctor Who novels, I haven’t read a new one since the New Series started, nine years ago. This puts me in a slightly odd position.
This isn’t so much a continued story as a series of incidents guest starring old monsters and surrogate companions. Each story is by a different author. The stand out for me is probably the last one, The Dreaming by Mike Morris, largely because of the monster in question and because the crotchety old Doctor is a joy to read. Nevertheless, there are no real standout moments from any of the stories. Doctor Who: Tales of Trenzalore feels mostly like squandered potential. It’s a fairly good series of run (or hobble) arounds, and a tasty feast of references, but it could have been more than that. The end result is more slender than it needed to be.
**Received copy from NetGalley for review
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