The King's Dragon

Doctor Who: The King's Dragon (MP3 Book) - Una McCormack, Nicholas Briggs 5-star Who.

Doctor Who adventures are not “Great Literature” by any means, but they sure are fun! There is nothing better than a few hours travelling with the Doctor to distant times and places to help me cope with the real world. To successfully create a good Who novel, you just need a few simple elements:

1. Select a time: Past, Present or Future

2. Select a place: Earth, outer space or foreign planet

3. Add companions, either travelling in the TARDIS or picked up temporarily during the course of the episode (or in this case, volume)

4. Add threat: alien attack or invasion, time-continuum related conundrums, bad humans using technology (or aliens) to their own ends, or arriving in a hostile time/place

5. And, of course, add some incarnation of the Doctor

Ok, so The King’s Dragon uses this formula: present, foreign planet, travelling companions Amy and Rory, 11th Doctor and alien attack and alien tech. And it uses it well, adding enough twists to make it feel less like a paint-by-numbers than many of the Who novels out there.

The Doctor, Amy and Rory arrive on a distant world, home to the city of Geath (I’m unsure of the spelling as this was an audiobook, but it’s pronounced ghee-ahth). Geath is a pre-industrial, democratic city with a centuries-long history of peace and a reputation for hospitality and enlightenment. But something unusual has happened in the city since the Doctor’s last visit. A 12,000-year-old republic has suddenly embraced a king. A once sociable community is silent and subdued behind locked doors. And a golden dragon sits in pride of place in the king’s court- on a world in which gold doesn’t exist.

So, needless to say, it’s up to the Doctor and his intrepid companions to solve the mystery and save the day. Nothing new there, but that’s just how I like it. There are some particularly interesting twists in this tale, especially when the true identity of the “gold” is revealed to be a mind controlling substance banned throughout the galaxies and the situation becomes about much more than simply rampant greed or a troubled political structure. Aliens! BUREAUCRATIC aliens!!! Office Space…in space!!

Some reviewers have complained that a story like this could have been accomplished by simply travelling to Earth’s past, but this is a ridiculous complaint for a couple of reasons. First of all, no city on Earth has a 12,000 year history, much less a 12,000 year reign of peace . Secondly, gold exists on Earth, so where would the mystery be? Duh.

Anyway, this was a strong entry in the 11th Doctor’s foray into print.

Overall: 5 stars
• The Doctor, Amy and Rory are characterized perfectly in their speech and mannerisms
• The plot is engrossing and the pacing is spot-on
• The blending of pre-industrial limitations and alien technology (and the implications of such an interaction) were interesting and mostly believable
• Narrator of the audio book was clear and engaging
• Several really great supporting characters