Doctor Who: The Glamour Chronicles: Royal Blood by Una McCormack (book review).

March 13, 2016 | By | Reply More

‘Royal Blood’ by Una McCormack is the first of the trilogy about the ‘Glamour Chronicles’ featuring the 12th Doctor and Clara. Here, they are mistaken first for envoys and then, in the Doctor’s case, as a holy man who might have words of wisdom to impart.


It’s another random landing for the TARDIS on the side of a mountain on a planet, far, far away. After all those years, the sat-nav should be better.

The kingdom of Varuz is in trouble and the Duke and Duchess need all the help he might lend. They fear that they are about to be invaded and would love the Doctor to advise them on what to do. The Doctor loves the chance to use some of those wordy-wordy things but it turns out he’s not the only arrival at court and, before you can say ‘imposter’, another envoy appears and then things get really complicated. When the knights arrive, led by Lancelot, supposedly seeking the Holy Grail, we find out about the mythical Glamour that rages across the universe and is the cause of much of the sadness in it. What follows is a tale of a quest, love and desire. It won’t end well.

Framing this, with as an epic remembrance penned or spoken a long time later, gives the story a melancholic sense and a perspective additional to that focused on the Doctor and, alternatively, Clara, when inevitably they end up in different locations.

This is quite the traditional tale of the space and time wanderer and I felt you could have slotted in any of the Doctors with a female companion into this book, particularly the 3rd and 4th with Sarah Jane. It takes its time to set the scene and incorporates courtly love and questing into the scenario alongside some betrayal and slaughter. Just an everyday tale of non-democratic oppressive system as they say. Technology raises its head, too, and is used creatively and, perhaps with a nod at our current situation, it delivers an arresting punch-line at the end of the novel.

The new Big Bad is deliberately a bit on the woolly side and does not give the novelists a whole lot to work with. McCormack chooses a form that fits well with her chosen theme and the use of the Grail emphasises how the quest can take everything from its participants. The Glamour drives men (and presumably women) to distraction, draining the colour from their lives and leaving them with nothing to live for but the chase. Meanwhile, real life continues around them and they can take no part. The novel highlights the difference between living and simply following the Glamour.

This is an odd trilogy as there are no numbers on the three books. Even as I read it, I didn’t know if this was the first book. Maybe it was an error or simply a reminder that the Doctor lives his life, forwards, backwards, sideways and perhaps diagonally. He can never assume that he won’t pass this way again or even that a previous self might already have dropped litter.

The story continues in ‘Big Bang Generation’ by Gary Russell.

Sue Davies

March 2016

(pub: BBC Books/Ebury Publishing/Random House, 2015. 235 page small hardback. Price: £ 6.99 (UK). ISBN: 978-0-84990-922-1)

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Category: Books, Doctor Who

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