Royal Blood by Una McCormack

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The city-state of Varuz is under imminent danger of invasion when the Doctor, Clara and some other mysterious alien visitors arrive.

With it’s mix of medieval courtly intrigue and advanced technology, Royal Blood evokes warm nostalgic thoughts of the classic Androids of Tara, as well as series eight’s Robot of Sherwood. The latter because of the Doctor’s incredulity when he meets a mythological character, in this case Sir Lancelot on a search for the Holy Grail. The imagery of Clara in a similar red dress to the latter story highlights that the time-travellers have stepped into another classic romantic setting with knights and dukes and castles.

WARNING: Embargoed for publication until: 02/09/2014 - Programme Name: Doctor Who - TX: 06/09/2014 - Episode: n/a (No. 3) - Picture Shows: Clara (JENNA COLEMAN) - (C) BBC - Photographer: Adrian Rogers

The setting of Varuz is a former imperial power who treated the lands she ruled quite shabbily, and who have an outdated aristocracy living in the past. It’s hard not to draw parallels with Great Britain. Along with Duke Aurelian, characters such as the Grail Knights and avid collector Emfil are all unwilling to change the self-destructive patterns of behaviour they are locked into. The Doctor is usually an agent of change, but he doesn’t affect the course of events too much here; the change is already coming, and is inevitable and healthy. Doctor Who itself survives through change which it is pointless to try and resist.

Parts of the tale are recounted by Lord Bernhardt, a knight to Aurelian’s court. This helps to ground Varuz as a real place with a history, and gives gravitas to a slower-paced adventure than, say, Big Bang Generation. This gives the characters and story room to breathe. Although the destiny of a country is at stake, the scope of the story-telling is more intimate, focussing on the fate of a handful of interesting characters.

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Order Royal Blood:

Doctor Who: Royal Blood (Dr Who)

On audiobook:

Doctor Who: Royal Blood: A 12th Doctor novel (Dr Who 12th Doctor)

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