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4.1 out of 5 stars17
4.1 out of 5 stars
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on 11 August 2014
A novelty tie-in book needs to achieve a number of things to be any good: quite apart from being funny, witty and unusual, it needs to tread the fine line between not being too silly, thus risking losing sight of the appeal of the source brand, or too serious, losing the ovelty factor. The Shakespeare Notebooks manages to tread this line, just. There are segments that sail perilously close to one or the other, sometimes in the same piece!

The principal aim of this book is to try and present various brief snippets of the Doctor's life through the prism of the World's Greatest Playwright. If you are looking for details of the pair's many meetings or a coherent story/stories, then you are looking in the wrong place. What we get are a series of short segments of 'Shakespeare's' writings, all of which show the playwright had a greater knowledge of both the Doctor and his world than hitherto imagined.

The segments included are varied and alledgedly come from a variety of sources, some more coherent than others. The sonnets are witty and well written, the rough drafts and treatments entertaining and the diary segments, just plain odd. However, it is in the play fragments that we can find some of the best, and most frustrating, material. It feels a little like these go one conceit too far: are the writers trying to purport that the Doctor invegled himself into Shakespeare's plays and thus needed to be written out in rewrites, or was he present at the actual historical events Shakespeare was dramatising and he was merely being historically accurate?
However, this minor confusion aside, the writing here is absolutely fabulous, a love letter to the works of Shakespeare by those more used to writing of Dalek battles than star-crossed lovers. Some characters seem more willing to enter into the style than others, with ccasionally odd turns of phrases giving familiar lines a new slant. It is quite clear that all involved had a strong knowledge and understanding of both of the worlds they were combining.
And knowledge and understanding are both things the reader would benefit from. Knowledge of both classic and new Who is absolutely essential to get the most from all the segments, a lack of knowledge in one or the other will seriously reduce the quantity of material you will follow. Also, if you have no knowledge or understanding of Shakespeare (shame on you!), you will struggle. That said, a DEEP knowledge is not actually required; if you know Shakespeare's writing style and the basic plots of some of his plays, you'll get through fine (but if you understand the plot of Twelfth Night, could you explain it to the Fifth Doctor?).

This is not a book to read end to end, it has been designed to be dipped into, a few sonnets read here, the 'original drafts' of a famous play perused there; reading too much at once feels a little disjointed and gets confusing. To go into specifics of any of the contents would be to spoil the wealth of gems contained within. I'll simply say that I am quite convinced that there are already some drama groups working out how to put on the 'new' versions of Macbeth, Romeo and Juliet or any of a number of the works included.

Thoroughly recommended for a light Autumn evening. See if you can get some friends together to act out scenes for unsuspecting family members, it'll make for a memorable evening!
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on 24 November 2015
This has to be, perhaps, the most bizarre Doctor Who book ever. It is an odd and quite random eclectic mix of imaginary play extracts, re-writes and drafts based on the works of Shakespeare interspersed with fictional diary entries and academic notes; all with a Doctor Who spin. For the most part, these are sections of Shakespeare’s work rewritten to feature the Doctor, his companions and/or various aliens. Occasionally it is reversed and Doctor Who stories are given a Shakespeare ‘style’ treatment, such as ‘Ye Unearthly Childe’.

The various authors have obviously had a lot of fun producing this and it is clear is that they know their subjects well in that there is a clear grasp of Doctor Who and Shakespeare on a textual level. It does feel a tad self-indulgent, though, as if it is written for the authors rather than a Doctor Who audience. Putting together two hugely iconic British figures might be tempting, especially as the Doctor has met so many literary figures on screen. However, these onscreen meetings have a story to tell and a plot to go with them whereas this book is an amalgam of material concerning the Doctor and the playwright.

It is hard to guess at the intended target audience. The reader will need to be fairly well versed in both Doctor Who throughout all its periods and, basically, the complete works of Shakespeare. This is not a book that just focuses on the most famous plays. Less popular ones, sonnets and even supposed ‘lost’ plays are also featured. This is certainly not a book for children or for someone who just wants to enjoy some Doctor Who stories.

It isn’t only the Doctor and Shakespeare getting in on the ‘act’. One of the longer sequences involves the Master and his attempted corruption of Shakespeare’s contemporary Marlowe.

This is a book to be read in short spurts rather than from cover to cover. At times it is witty and intelligent, at others silly and occasionally a bit tedious (the loosely focussed academic notes on ‘Julius Caesar’ for example). Overall it just has to be taken as a bit of fun.
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on 15 July 2014
Arrived in excellent condition, and is full of entertaining snippets of information!
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on 12 July 2014
Something for everyone's taste in humour. Fun and clever
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on 30 August 2014
After studying Shakespeare in English, I love the concept of putting a Whovian twist on the classics! It came very quickly and I love the book itself. A definite must have for Whovians who study English Lit
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TOP 1000 REVIEWERon 24 September 2014
Thank you to Ebury Publishing for providing me with a copy in exchange for an honest review

I love my sci-fi and I really love my Doctor Who, ever since Christopher Ecclestone's spectacular re-boot, I've been hooked though when I was a youngster back in the 80's I remember hiding from the cybermen way back then!

So if you are an avid Whovian you may have seen the episode that the Doctor and Shakespeare met up at the Globe Theatre, well this book proves that not only did they meet but the Doctor has a huge influence on his writing!

This book visits many of Shakespeares works and they are reimagined with the different Doctor's and their companions being placed in to all of Shakespeare's famous works.

It really is a bit of fun, but unless you have a great interest in both Doctor Who and Shakespeare it may fall a little flat for you as all of the Doctor references will just go right over your head.

It is a great idea, one for the die hards I think but still its a fun read with great illustrations of our man from Gallifrey.

Awarded 3 out of 5
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on 23 June 2014
On a basis with the "Frankenstein Diaries", this entertainingly-written book claims (tongue-in-cheek) to be the Bard's notebooks relating to The Doctor. Amusingly done and well-written especially for those already familiar with the plays on which some of these parodies are based. Delightful and not overlong to the point of tedium.
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on 22 November 2015
This will be a gift for someone but I may have had a sneaky peek and looks pretty good. :)
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on 25 January 2016
You have got to know your Shakespeare really well to appreciate this.
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VINE VOICEon 22 June 2016
Rubbish I'm afraid...

Not worth reading.
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