BBC Books, out 11 September
Clara wants to go to see King Arthur; the Doctor would rather track down a power surge in Victorian times – guess who wins…
The first books tied in to new series are always a bit of a gamble; the authors are having to work off limited information regarding the show, without benefit of the way that the actors interpret the lines, or indeed of any changes made in the edits. It’s not just Doctor Who this applies to: early Star Trek books from each new show have some… let’s say interesting… interpretations of the characters.
To an extent, the Doctor is still the Doctor – as Clara guesses correctly in Deep Breath, he will still adhere to the code that the three incarnations stated on Gallifrey in The Day of the Doctor – but how Peter Capaldi plays the part is not something to which the authors can be privy. An old hand at doing this, though, Justin Richards takes elements from the scripts of the opening episodes and comes up with a 12th Doctor who’s pretty much exactly who we’ve seen in the last two weeks.
There are some lovely moments throughout this book. There are some surprising guest appearances, and good use of Strax and Jenny particularly – it’s actually nice to have more focus on them than Vastra for a change, and an apparent error in Deep Breath is explained. The dynamic between the Doctor and Clara is very different now, and Richards’ dialogue between them is sometimes laugh aloud funny.
With the story partly set in and around a Frost Fair and a Carnival of Curiosities on it, Richards can play with the reader’s expectations and even when you know something feels wrong, there’s enough chance it could be right that you’re not sure how it will play out. Unlike Matt Smith’s Doctor, this Time Lord doesn’t have a “gang”, or, necessarily, the connection to those around him you might expect…
Verdict: A highly enjoyable extra outing for the Doctor and the Great Detective. 8/10