With Christmas approaching, the Doctor is taking Amy and Rory back to Leadworth for the holidays, what could go wrong? Well in Dan Abnett’s book The Silent Stars Go By quite a lot. I had the opportunity to listen to this latest novelization in audiobook format; all very well but was it any good?
Stay tuned after the break and find out what I thought…
Unlike the previous ‘Dr Who for grown-ups’ (or whatever the series branding is) also known as The Coming of the Terraphiles (see here) this is a straightforward story set entirely in the conventional Who universe. Featuring a favourite villain of mine I enjoyed this and can’t find any reason not to recommend. As I listened to the audiobook I have split this review into two.
Dan Abnett has written for Big Finish and for various BBC publications (Torchwood and Who) so is no stranger to the genre. We have a tale of the eleventh Doctor, Amy and Rory en route to Leadworth for Christmas landing instead on a wintry planet which is being terraformed. Inevitably there is a problem, in this case Ice Warriors who want to make the world Mars-like for their own use and this whilst the umpteenth generation of human is struggling to cope with the ever more desperate winters.
The tale moves along nicely though perhaps takes its time in the first two-thirds and plays for too long with the clever use of language (e.g. our Guide Emmanuel). I do like the Christmas carol themed chapter titles though.
The plot splits the three protagonists apart with Amy perhaps having the least to do in terms of moving the story forward. In my view most Doctor/Amy/Rory stories could be two-handed but that is probably a thought for another day.
The story picks up towards the end when further layers of complexity are revealed – how the terraforming equipment is fighting back against the Ice Warriors (the local humans being now somewhat peasant like in their culture and not understanding what the technology is) and also the deeper story behind the plan of the builders of the equipment. This leads to a second ‘monster’ entering the story (the Trans-rats and then the trans-humans) who are more than a match for the plans of the Ice Warriors. In the midst of all this the Doctor has to save the day, avoid large scale bloodshed or genocide and still get Amy and Rory home for Christmas!
Overall a very solid tale.
The reading is by Michael Maloney and he reads very well. I have two gripes – the Amy voice he does is too Glaswegian to my ears and when the narration moves between protagonists their is often not enough gap to signal a change of scene. Apart from that I did find myself dozing off during the second and third disc though that may have been due to the commute rather than the reading.
As somebody who prefers to listen to audio drama than audiobooks I was very pleased with this.
Overall I would give this probably 4/5 maybe a touch more.