Royal Blood

Doctor Who: Royal Blood - Una McCormack

[I received a copy of this novel through Edelweiss, in exchange for an honest review.]

An entertaining, if a little fast and simplistic read.

Although the plot wasn’t extremely complex (in that it was fairly straightforward, without many twists and turns), this novel nonetheless had its own depths. I liked the somber ambiance permeating it, the feeling of longing tinged with regret for days long gone, the despair reigning in Varuz more than the land’s own rulers could ever do. The strange narration (sometimes 3rd person, sometimes 1st person) was, well, strange, indeed; on the other hand, in some way, it fitted the mood. As if the narrator had patched up afterwards the events in which other people were involved, then put everything together to try and tell a story he needed to tell, out of nostalgic feelings in a crumbling world.

I liked the echoes, too, clearly linked to the Arthurian mythos: not only through the Grail’s quest, yet also etched within the relationships uniting some of the characters. Aurelian, the misguided ruler. Guena, his clever wife. Bernhardt, ever Guenas’ faithful servant, who would like to be more. Mikhail, rightful heir but shunned. I’d keep thinking “Arthur, Guinevere, Lancelot, Mordred” here. However, these echoes unfurled a little differently, which was a good thing, as a complete retelling of the legend wouldn’t have been so interesting if it had been done just for that sake.

Where I was less satisfied was in some aspects of the world: I wish there had been more information about the technology in Varuz: its inhabitants used it without understanding it, and there was more to it, only nothing was really explained, and in the end it was left to vague warnings. In some cases, it wouldn’t be a problem, but here, the whole “medieval society” clashed a little with electricity and light sabers, and I think a better integration of these two extremes would have been welcome—at least for me.

Also, the Doctor wasn’t very present, and while Clara’s characterisation was okayish, it wasn’t much more than that. The “secondary characters” felt more present.

It paves the way for more, in any case. This is a trilogy, and more revelations are to come, I hope, about the mysterious, dangerous and elusive Glamour. I definitely want to see more of the beautiful ravage it can inflict on many worlds and people.


2.5 to 3 stars.