THIS NOVEL TAKES
THE NOVELS "THE
AND "THE FEAST OF THE
OFFICIAL BBC HARDBACK
RELEASED IN MAY 2006.
Mickey is startled to
find a statue of Rose
in a museum that is
2,000 years old. The
Doctor realises that
this means the TARDIS
will take them to
ancient Rome, but
when it does, he and
Rose soon have more
on their minds than
While the Doctor
searches for a LOST
boy, Rose befriends
a girl who claims to
know the future AND
accurate. But then
the Doctor stumbles
on the hideous truth
behind the statue of
Rose, and Rose learns
that you have to be
very careful what
you wish for...
Sometimes artists are suddenly struck by inspiration and write a beautiful song, novel, or verse, only to be stumped when it comes to thinking up a title that really encapsula-tes their work. On other occasions, they come up with a title that is funny, clever, and catchy long before they even have the vaguest idea what their work is going to be about. I might
well be wrong, but I would wager that The Stone Rose falls into the latter group. Thankfully though, Doctor Who veteran Jacqueline Rayner does her wonderful title justice with a novel that is every bit as fun and as imaginative as the television series that spawned it.
The second of the tenth Doctor’s adventures in print (well, I say ‘second’, but this is open to interpretation as three books were actually released simultaneously) is one that wonderfully captures the new Doctor’s personality. As this book is set very early on in the 2006 series, we still have a “new, new Doctor” that Rose and Mickey are still getting used to. All the same, the Doctor’s babbling dialogue is right on the mark, as is his Troughton-esque faux-naiveté. There are some particularly funny scenes with Ursus (one of the story’s villains) where the Doctor takes everything he says literally, reminding me of how sarcasm used to always fall flat on the second Doctor.
Rose and Mickey are both also represented very well. Rose has changed so much since
she first met the Doctor – something well demonstrated by Rayner in the final third of the novel, where Rose has to save the day almost single-handedly. There are also signs that Mickey has begun to benefit from the Doctor’s continual inference in his life. He may have been through that year of hell and suffered a great deal of heartache because of the Time Lord, but already in this novel Mickey is starting to show his potential. He is not “Mickey Smith – defending the Earth!” just yet, but he is at least Mickey Smith, doing his bit for
charity and the local kids.
The Stone Rose is by no means perfect though. After the first two or three chapters in present day London, there are several chapters set in second century Rome that, despite being well written, really struggled to hold my attention. Purely historical Doctor Who is hard to get right, but recent efforts like The Council of Nicaea have shown just how good such stories can be when handled well. The first Doctor’s trip to Rome during the classic series’ second season was a charming but lightweight affair, and as I read through chapters about the toga-wearing Doctor fighting off Lions with the help of his buddies John, Paul, George, and Ringo I think I can be forgiven for thinking that The Stone Rose was heading in the same direction.
However, around the halfway mark
Rayner really shifts things up a gear
as her multi-faceted plot opens up.
The GENIE is a fascinating creature
for Rose to pit her wits against, and
the temporal paradox that the Doctor
ends up stuck within is so clever that
Steve Lyons could have written it.
Best of all, The Stone Rose is a story about something that the new series has only really scratched the surface of – time travel. Fair dues, there was Father’s Day, but aside from that, it is incredibly convenient how the Doctor and Rose always go back to visit Jackie and Mickey after their last visit. This novel has the Doctor doubling back on himself, crossing his own timestream and asking poor old Mickey questions like “is this before or after last time?” It’s spellbinding stuff.
At the end of the day though, this is not the best Doctor Who novel that I’ve ever read, but it’s nonetheless a damned enjoyable romp. As with last year’s batch of novels, fans of the more adult and progressive Doctor Who novels of yesteryear may find these tie-in novels lacking, but if BBC Books can keep churning out releases of this quality (both literally and physically – these novels are beautiful to look at), then hopefully a good few children should get hooked on reading.
Copyright © E.G. Wolverson 2006
E.G. Wolverson has asserted his right under the Copyright, Designs and Patents Act, 1988 to be identified as the author of this work.
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