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Doctor Who: Royal Blood by Una McCormack
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The Doctor and Clara arrive at a planet, visits a city and the people thinks the Doctor is the ambassador from another country that is planning war on them. They have technology in the city that doesn't work properly since the people have forgotten what the gadgets do. Apparently somewhere along the way everyone just forgot how it worked and the new generations just use the things without any real knowledge about it. Then another man shows up, is he the real ambassador, and will the Doctor and Clara stop the war? And what has the Holy Grail to do with it all?

I think my biggest problem with this book is that if feels like the Doctor is hardly in it. That and that it's so short that it lacks depth. It's super easy to read, and that's the bloody problem. It's so easy to read because nothing is every really explained or described. No real explanations for why Conrad wanted to invade the country, just oh they have it coming since they are not a mighty power anymore. And the Quest for the Holy Grail knights that showed up felt like a sidetrack that really just wasn't that necessary and not even that interesting to read about. And, the final explanation for them was like "a bit meh". And, then we get the explanation for what the technology do. And, I still don't understand why no-one thought about for instance write it down to explain to future generations what it is for and the cost to use it and frankly I don't even understand why it was forgotten it the first place.

Also, I not sure I like Clara, I don't dislike her, but I don't love her either. Right now is she also a bit meh for me as a companion. I have yet seen more than the first eps of Doctor who with the Twelfth Doctor, but I like him, he just doesn't do much in this book.

So, if you're looking for a quick read, but don't need any really deep book? Then this one is for you.

Thanks to Random House Crown and Edelweiss for providing me with a free copy of this book in exchange for an honest review!
( )
  MaraBlaise | May 19, 2019 |

Possibly the last Twelfth Doctor / Clara novel, or at least the last we'll have for a while, this has the TARDIS arriving in a medieval-style society where knights have lasers. It's good fun, particularly the invocation of the Holy Grail quest, an interesting viewpoint character among the knights, and Clara's lines in general; there's perhaps not enough Doctor in it (though he too is well caught), and I wasn't quite sure in the end how the Glamour here fitted in with its other appearances. But a worthy addition to the shelves. ( )
  nwhyte | Apr 17, 2016 |
Today, legions of Whovians are welcoming the Doctor back for another new season of BBC’s science fiction television program Doctor Who. And then there’s yours truly, probably one of the last three people on this earth who hasn’t watched the show yet. I won’t even be able to speak on the matter of how well the books capture the spirit of the series, because I just don’t know. As such, you might be wondering why I’m reading them. To that, I point you to my love of science fiction and fondness for media tie-ins of all kinds.

This is a category of fiction that has come a long way. Media tie-ins and novelizations of movies or television shows have long gotten a bad rap for hardly ever being able to live up to the original source material, but in the last few years I have noticed a definite rise in the quality of stories and writing in this area. Tie-ins aren’t strictly for hardcore fans anymore; many of the books now can stand on their own with lots to offer in terms of plot and characters, providing general audiences with a good reading experience or the perfect jumping-on point for those curious about a media property – folks just like me. I’m definitely interested in the Doctor Who series; a lot of my friends adore this show and I want to find out more. And of course I would never say no to checking out a book.

After much internal deliberation and conflict, I decided to start with Doctor Who: Royal Blood, a story about a falling kingdom, invading armies, and let’s face it, any mention of a “Grail Quest” and you can pretty much guarantee I’m on board. This book begins with the Twelfth Doctor and Clara arriving on an unnamed planet, where they are quickly ushered into the city-state of Varuz to meet its Duke Aurelian and his wife, Lady Guena. All is not well in their kingdom. Their palace is crumbling, the nobles have wondrous electric gadgets but they barely have the power or knowledge (“What, shoot death rays? I shouldn’t think so!”) to work them, and a rival Duke on the other side of the mountains is even now preparing to launch an attack.

Taking him for a holy man, Aurelian asks The Doctor for his blessing in the coming war and refuses to surrender. Meanwhile, everyone else wants to avoid conflict, seizing upon an opportunity to negotiate with the mysterious stranger who shows up at the castle, presumably the ambassador of Conrad, the rival Duke. Aurelian does not take this well when he finds out, throwing poor Clara and the ambassador out of his city which leaves the Doctor behind to hold the fort, so to speak, along with Guena and Bernhardt, Varuz’s most trusted knight. But even that may not be enough though, when a company of thirty warriors shows up, led by a captain claiming to be the great Sir Lancelot. He also claims that he is from Ravenna, and on behalf of his King Arthur, they are on a mission to seek out the most holy of treasures.

For such a slim volume – presumably to appeal to all Doctor Who fans, young and old – I was actually very impressed with the richness of the writing and story. A quick look at Una McCormack’s author page shows that she’s written many other Doctor Who books as well as a few Star Trek titles. She’s clearly no stranger to writing a good tie-in and it shows in her smart pacing of the plot. The story’s construction is solid, has great flow, and is easy to read. I had a moment of confusion early on when I encountered a point-of-view change, where the narrative inexplicably switched from being first-person to third-person (told in Bernhardt and then Clara’s POV, respectively) and it continues on in this fashion for the rest of the novel. It’s a very bizarre decision, one that I wasn’t sure about initially, but it ended up working surprisingly well. It’s worth noting too that even though the Doctor is the series and book’s titular character, his role in this feels more like a supporting character rather than the main protagonist. It wasn’t what I was expecting, but it’s also quite intriguing.

On that note, while we are speaking of bucking expectations I most certainly also found Royal Blood to go against the trend of tie-in books being poorly cobbled together or coming across very “bare-bones.” This book reads like a sci-fi adventure for young adults, with an ambitious plot written into a small package, but is no less enjoyable because of it. I had my doubts before picking it up but I actually ended up liking it a lot. If it was fun for me, I imagine it would be even better for fans of the show, though going in blind likely benefited in some ways as well, since I had no preconceived notions of how a Doctor Who novel should “feel” like. Still, based on the things I’ve heard, I imagine the tone of style of it to be similar to an episode of the show – fast-paced and adventurous, with a good dose of humor.

In the end, it was probably a good thing that I started with Royal Blood. Released on the same day along with Deep Time by Trevor Baxendale and Big Bang Generation by Gary Russel, it seems Royal Blood is the introductory volume of the three books that make up a series called The Glamour Chronicles, following the Doctor on his adventures across time and space in search for The Glamour, “the most desirable—and dangerous—artifact in the universe.” Whovian or not, the trilogy could be worth a look if that sounds interesting to you. This was my first Doctor Who novel but it most likely won’t be my last, especially if the other two books in the series prove just as easy–and fun–to get into. ( )
1 vote stefferoo | Mar 8, 2016 |
McCormack’s making a habit of placing the Doctor in a fantasy settings; it’s a trait of both her previous books. This time it’s knights, lords and civil war flavoured with Arthurian myth rather than forest monsters or dragons, but the trick of providing SF reasons for fantasy situations remains unchanged.

It’s by far the most disappointing of her Who books; I found myself recalling The Da Vinci Code whilst reading it in the way the story skates giddily from scene to scene, moving the reader on swiftly so they get no chance to think about what’s happening or the sense of it. As a result characterisation, even of the regulars, ranges from sketchy cliché to nearly non-existent non-entity and there’s no time to even begin to care about how the court intrigues resolve themselves. The Doctor and Clara skulk about without making any difference to the outcome and the characters supposedly providing a link to the overarching story just seem grafted on; they too have no real impact on events. That might not be so bad with some ingenious plotting but there’s nothing like that here, events unfold In a straightforward manner without a single twist and not even in a way which conveys tragedy (though the first person narrative sections scattered through the book may be an attempt to convey this). It all comes across as a story the author had already written and grafted the Doctor on to. Which is a shame as the idea of a region which hoarded the technology to rule a world getting just desserts has plenty of potential power. Ultimately though it’s a disappointingly straight plod to a predictable end, passing by without a single memorable moment. ( )
  JonArnold | Dec 10, 2015 |
Showing 4 of 4
One of the best things I can think of reading is a Doctor Who book–especially during the hiatus between the seasons of this BBC show. However, with things like Amazon and Netflix, my beloved Doctor is close at hand. Still, there are times when I would love to read about our favorite Gallifreyan–especially when it has some medieval elements, like in Una McCormack’s Doctor Who: Royal Blood.

Thank you to publisher, Broadway Books, and for Blogging for Books for providing me a copy of the book in exchange for my honest review.

The Doctor and Clara land the TARDIS in Varuz–a city on the brink of death. The Duke who ‘rules’ the land is ready to risk everything in order to save it–in one last battle. However, a holy man (aka the Doctor) and his companion begin to investigate what’s hiding under the surface of this city (and the laser swords), Lancelot and the Grail quest begin to pop up on this land, the Doctor begins to seriously investigate the strange properties of the everything on the planet–including a pendant given to Clara, herself! Will the Doctor be able to solve the mystery, and stop a war that might destroy the area? And, is the energy behind the scenes have ties to the glamour the Doctor has been investigating?

Una McCormack does an awesome job of taking Capaldi’s Doctor from the screen and translating him to the page. It is a flawless transition–I particularly loved the parts where our known world became part of the world IN Varuz. I also really enjoyed the Arthurian touches to the novel–they were perfect for moving the story along.

The Doctor just keeps getting better and better in my opinion–I really like reading this series, and cannot wait to finish the next in the Glamour Chronicles series–I think I have missed one of the books. The worlds that he is placed in allow him the opportunity to continue on his quest to learn more and more about humanity (via interacting with his companion), as well as the rest of the vast galaxies he interacts with.

I enjoyed this book, and look forward to the next one. Until I get to travel with the Doctor again, I will take my leave!
added by gothamgal | editAlways Reiding, Nicole Reid (Oct 11, 2015)
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To Matthew and Verity
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Varuz is lost now.
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Amazon.com Product Description (ISBN 184990992X, Hardcover)

"The Grail is a story, a myth! It didn't exist on your world! It can't exist here!" The city-state of Varuz is failing. Duke Aurelian is the last of his line, his capital is crumbling, and the armies of his enemy, Duke Conrad, are poised beyond the mountains to invade. Aurelian is preparing to gamble everything on one last battle. So when a holy man, the Doctor, comes to Varuz from beyond the mountains, Aurelian asks for his blessing in the war. But all is not what it seems in Varuz. The city-guard have lasers for swords, and the halls are lit by electric candlelight. Aurelian's beloved wife, Guena, and his most trusted knight, Bernhardt, seem to be plotting to overthrow their Duke, and Clara finds herself drawn into their intrigue...Will the Doctor stop Aurelian from going to war? Will Clara's involvement in the plot against the Duke be discovered? Why is Conrad's ambassador so nervous? And who are the ancient and weary knights who arrive in Varuz claiming to be on a quest for the Holy Grail...?

(retrieved from Amazon Tue, 25 Aug 2015 10:38:54 -0400)

The city-state of Varuz is failing. Duke Aurelian is the last of his line, his capital is crumbling, and the armies of his enemy, Duke Conrad, are poised beyond the mountains to invade. Aurelian is preparing to gamble everything on one last battle. So when a holy man, the Doctor, comes to Varuz from beyond the mountains, Aurelian asks for his blessing in the war.… (more)

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