So here we have our review of the last of the three ‘talking books’ from BBC Audiobooks read by Tenth Doctor David Tennant.
Now, I’ve not read an entire novel by Jacqueline Rayner in years – in fact ever since I waded through the 8th Doctor book Earthworld (BBC Books, March 2001) – with the sole exception of ‘Winner Takes All’ from the first batch of last year’s Ninth Doctor novels which I’m afraid to day I didn’t enjoy very much.
So I’m delighted to say that, from the opening scene in the British Museum to the final line, I thoroughly enjoyed The Stone Rose. Of the three titles released in the range this is probably the most fun and the settings within the story the best described.
The first half of the story is very much the Doctor’s, with Rose missing from much of the action. Unfortunately this has the effect of increasing the amount of narrative and decreasing the dialogue count, temporarily limiting the opportunities for Tennant to provide his excellent character voices.
However this is redressed when the Doctor makes an unexpected departure from the story and Rose takes centre stage. It’s only in the final few minutes that the importance of Rose’s earlier disappearance becomes clear and, without giving the plot away, the story uses the concepts of time travel and time paradoxes to good effect.
There’s also a couple of very nice scenes midway through between the Doctor and Mickey which highlight their shared yet contrasting affection for Rose whose independence and resourcefulness are accurately captured by Rayner who clearly has a great handle on the series regulars.
Unfortunately the accompanying interview with Rayner is slightly muffled and it sounds as if she and David Darlington are some way from the mic. The quality seems to improve after a few minutes but perhaps my ears had simply adjusted to the lower levels.
During her interview Rayner explains that she’s a lover of Roman history and this shows through in her descriptions of the locales within the story. She also discusses the challenges of frightening the reader without the imagery of the TV series and the differences in writing for the Ninth and Tenth Doctor. The interview also covers Rayner’s involvement in preparing the three novels for audio release and she deserves credit for helping shape an excellent end product.
Listening to all three of these releases has been a real treat. The value of having David Tennant narrate them cannot be overstated and his tireless performances really help bring the stories and characters to life. The interviews are a nice value added feature which provide genuine insight into the process of bringing a hit TV series to the written medium.
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Doctor Who: The Stone Rose is available from 3rd July priced