Tales of Trenzalore is a collection of four stories that attempt to give a little more insight into the life of the Doctor during the centuries-long siege of Trenzalore. These are very lightweight adventures, just a few notches above the little vignettes that appeared in The Name of the Doctor (the wooden Cyberman, the Sontarans in the invisible vehicle). Essentially, they attempt to give readers an idea of the continual struggle between the Doctor and the various alien races that forever try and fail to reignite the Time War. Of course, since we know the Doctor lives beyond Trenzalore, it isn’t a spoiler to say that each story ends with the Doctor victorious.
Let it Snow by Justin Richards
An “invasion” (if four is an invasion) of Ice Warriors threatens to bury the town of Christmas. This one had an interesting introductory sequence and a nice plot twist, though the Warriors themselves were incredibly underwhelming.
An Apple a Day by George Mann
An old-fashioned monster chase, this one sees a Krynoid- a flesh-eating, plant-based life form- land in one of the few heated spaces on the planet and attempt to consume all the living things on Trenzalore. The Doctor works with a young boy, Theol, to save the day. The less recognizable foe was a nice touch, though the solution could be seen a mile away. (This author also wrote the full-length Engines of War, featuring the War Doctor).
Strangers in the Outland by Paul Finch
We finally see a little bit more of what Trenzalore is like outside of the town of Christmas, as a lone trapper and his daughter find trouble in the subarctic tundra miles away from civilization. This one brought back a foe that we haven’t seen since the earliest days of the New Series, and the Doctor’s battle with them felt a little weightier than the preceding two.
The Dreaming by Mark Morris
An enemy familiar to fans of the Fifth Doctor makes an appearance, threatening to destroy Christmas from the inside. This one had a very Tommyknockers/pod people feeling, and seemed to be resolved the quickest, though the menace felt the most powerful of the four.
Taken all together, the stories are fun but not terribly substantial. We know that many, many instances like these had to have occurred over the centuries the Doctor spent defending the town of Christmas, and most of them had to have been fairly undramatic, as he survived for so long. It’s a nice read if you’re looking to bridge that gap in the timeline, and it does make The Name of the Doctor feel a little more substantial in retrospect, but none of them felt particularly memorable. Recommended if you just can’t let go of Eleven and need a few more adventures to help you along.
(Cross-posted at Goodreads: Tales of Trenzalore)