Doctor Who: Myths And Legends by Richard Dinnick (book review)

June 29, 2017 | By | Reply More

As the eras of our own stories about the mythical character of the Doctor pass into history, we have a document sent by Gallifreyan High Command, presumably through a tricky wormhole, which covers some of their own experiences of the man and other legendary happenings. The introduction by Chancellor Drakirid, historian to the Bureau of Ancient Records on Gallifrey tries to explain what we are going to read. It is a series of stories, some featuring the ‘Time Lord wandering in his own history’ and other major or minor characters in the long and shifting history of Gallifrey.

The contents list of the fourteen stories Richard Dinnick in this volume is handily annotated to indicate the startling similarity between our own Greek, Roman and Egyptian legends which may well have been inspired in turn by these intergalactic tales. Beginning with ‘The Mondas Touch’, a queen’s terrifying encounter with cyber-technology and a very twisted version of the infamous Midas Touch, the stories lead us through the labyrinth of legend.

This is literal in ‘The Labyrinthine Web’ as the Time Lords on a colony world are invaded by the Racnoss and must devise a means of saving themselves from becoming dinner. The final story, ‘The Pandoric Box’, is a prologue to ‘The Day Of The Doctor’. Rassilon’s encounter with the box and the avatar it uses is inspired and left me a little choked up.

From angels to the time vortex there is plenty here to both intrigue and occasionally confuse the reader and I’m still not sure if Dinnick was having a ‘Hitchhiker’s Guide To The Galaxy’ laugh with his Jorus and the Voganauts, although there is no excruciating poetry involved so maybe not.

Some of the myths are more familiar to us through popular retelling. As a person who’s favourite ‘tween book was the ‘Illustrated Greek Myths’, I have a great familiarity with those and the parallels were more obvious. I’m not so hot on Egyptian but it doesn’t matter as the stories are so readable that post research is always an option.

This was a thoughtful choice for a collection that will interest the younger and older reader and fulfils that old BBC brief of both educating and entertaining us. The construction of stories is excellent with some careful reworking, familiar classic characters and, of course, the occasional, fleeting appearance of the mysterious Doctor, unnamed here. Richard Dinnick, I feel is deeply embed in the mythos of the Doctor and I hope we can expect Volume 2 if he’s not too busy.

A mention and some applause please for the superb illustrations by Adrian Salmon. These really hit the spot with their originality and they feel a little alien but take their inspiration from antiquity, too. They are black and white, sharply defined and dare I say it, perfect for colouring in-photocopied I hasten to add!

Sue Davis

June 2017

(pub: BBC Books/Ebury. 276 page small hardback. Price: £12.99 (UK), $16.99 (US), $27.99 (CAN). ISBN: 978-1-78594-249-5)

check out website: www.eburypublishing.co.uk

Category: Books, Doctor Who

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