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Book Review

Book Cover

Doctor Who
The King’s Dragon


Author: Una McCormack
BBC Books
RRP: £6.99, US $11.99
ISBN: 978 1 84607 990 0
Available 08 July 2010

In the city-state of Geath, the King lives in a golden hall, and the people want for nothing. Everyone is happy and everyone is rich - or so it seems. When the Doctor, Amy and Rory look beneath the surface, they discover a city of secrets. At the heart of the hall, a metal dragon oozes gold. In dark corners, strange creatures are stirring. Then the Herald appears, demanding the return of the treasure known as Enamour. Next come the gunships. The battle for possession of Enamour has begun, and only the Doctor and his friends can save the people of the city from being destroyed in the crossfire of an ancient civil war. But will the King surrender his new-found wealth - or will he fight to keep it...?

All three books in the current batch of Eleventh Doctor novels deal with artifice to one extent or another, as indeed do many episodes in Matt Smith’s first season of television adventures. In Nuclear Time, the inhabitants of Appletown are not what they at first appear to be, while The Glamour Chase is all about illusions: shape-shifting aliens and fabricated realities. In common with The Glamour Chase, The King’s Dragon features a fantasy-inducing element, in this case Enamour. A substance resembling gold, Enamour is an emotional amplifier that promotes feelings of devotion towards it and towards those who possess the greatest hoards of it, and provokes the desire to acquire more of it. It enables Beol to become the King of Geath, a city-state that is normally governed by an elected leader rather than a monarch.

Beol’s rise to power is also assisted by his Teller, a sort of olde worlde spin doctor, whose tall tales of derring-do enthral audiences, even without the aid of the hypnotic influence of Enamour. This aspect of the novel ties in well with another theme of Smith’s first television series: the power of stories. In The Pandorica Opens, objects and characters from Amy’s favourite stories are brought into being. In Victory of the Daleks and The Pandorica Opens, the Doctor’s enemies create artificial humans, but they make them too well - so accurately, in fact, that the Doctor and Amy are able to engage with their back-stories and persuade them that they are, in all important respects, human. In this book, stories that had not been true when they were first spoken take on lives of their own, and Beol begins to believe his own heroic publicity.

Judging by the references made here by the TARDIS crew to their recent escapade with fluid-draining fishy things, and also the arguments that break out between Amy and Rory, The King’s Dragon appears to take place between The Vampires of Venice and Amy’s Choice.

The disputes, disagreements and other complications that arise between various parties, including the TARDIS crew and two separate factions of aliens intent upon claiming Enamour, stretch out the plot for perhaps a little longer than feels natural - but for the most part Una McCormack provides a narrative that’s easy to immerse oneself in. All in all, the teller has worked her magic.


Richard McGinlay

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