Book Reviews

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Legends of River Song – Selected Excerpts from River’s Diary

As a Doctor Who fan, I was eager to read more about the woman who is known as the Doctor’s Wife, a child of the TARDIS, as well as his murderer, and much more. The Legends of River Song is an anthology book with contributions from Jenny T. Coglan, Jaqueline Rayner, Steve Lyons, Guy Andrews, and Andy Lane. Only two of those names were familiar to me when I picked this out to read. This is designed to be like picking up her diary and reading it; a diary she was given by the Doctor and often shares with him.

What I got were five short stories. Out of the five, two were very good and the rest were okay. It wasn’t as good as I was expecting it to be, and it’s kind of sad that near the end, I just wanted to get it over with and move on to my next book.

The first was Picnic at Asgard. I’d heard adventures in Asgard between the Doctor and River mentioned during the series, so I was very intrigued by this one. It did not disappoint. It was a very good rendition of adventures involving the Doctor and River and a lot of fun. The second was Suspicious Minds. If you’re thinking that’s the title of an Elvis Presley song, you’d be correct and he (or something like him) plays a part in the story. Gamble With Time was the final story involving the Doctor and was the least remarkable of those. Death in New Venice was the strongest story in which River is working alone. It is a great concept involving the construction of a gated community for the wealthy using a substance known as WishCrete. I could easily see this as an episode of the series and it was a lot of fun. Finally, there was River of Time in which it appeared the Doctor was summoning River, but he never makes an appearance. You’ll have to read it to find out why!

The five stories are all fun and River is written in a way that fits the character I’ve seen on the screen. It’s fun to read about adventures from her perspective. It’s just like her: a little scattered, very frantic, and completely cool. Since it’s written from her perspective, I learned a little more about her and how she thinks. It was great to finally see the Doctor through her eyes and beyond the seemingly flippant way she deals with him in the series. We did see a little of this in the episode The Husbands of River Song where she extols her love of the Doctor and all that he is before realizing it’s him standing next to her (she had never seen that regeneration before).

If you aren’t familiar with the Doctor Who universe and the character of River Song, I don’t think you’ll be able to make sense of this. There are a lot of references to the show and things that have happened. In Gamble With Time, for instance, River makes reference to the Doctor not having gone through the events of Lake Silencio yet. That’s one of the interesting things when dealing with two characters who travel in time – they aren’t traveling together in sequence so things happen out of order for each of them.

I did enjoy this peek into River’s thoughts and her adventures both with and without the Doctor. A couple of the stories weren’t quite as strong as the rest, but for fans of the series, and particularly the character of River Song, I would recommend it. I think if you find her character more irritating than anything, this will not change your mind.

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