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Rose becomes petrified?
on 12 March 2015
Mickey Smith has something to show Rose and the Doctor in the British Museum. Amongst the classical antiquities is a life size statue of the goddess Fortuna that bears a more than striking resemblance to Rose.
It is an intriguing start that soon sees Rose and the Doctor propelled off to Rome in the second century. It makes it a good choice for this History Collection. Many of the books re-released for the series have been set in the twentieth century. This novel offers a period which is much further away in time and culture. Even so, we have seen the Doctor make several forays into the ancient Roman world. So this is not unfamiliar territory. The author has picked a period of Roman history that is relatively calm, during the middle of the age of ‘the five good emperors’. With no major political or military upheavals going on it is a fairly peaceful time which allows the Doctor and Rose to blend into Roman society and make their investigations. The Doctor even ditches his usual look for a traditional Roman tunic that lacks the pockets of his usual outfits.
A lot of the novel is taken up with the mystery of the statue. Rose and the Doctor ingratiate themselves into Roman society and have a lot of fun along the way. Much of this captures the early period of the Tenth Doctor. There is a lot to be enjoyed in the comparison between Rose’s and Vanessa’s misconceptions about Roman history and culture. It is a nice contrast that it is all amusing for Rose but utterly serious for Vanessa.
There is good characterisation of the Doctor and Rose. The novel successfully captures the dynamic of their relationship even though the book was written before their first series together. However, Mickey’s character and his relationship with the new Doctor is a little off.
There’s a fair amount of talk throughout about magic, prophecy and premonition not being real but when the explanation for what is happening is revealed it does seem very much like magic. The ‘scientific’ explanation for events is woefully inadequate. It is a struggle to believe that something could be genetically engineered to be able to perform magic. This also has an effect on the resolution of the plot. There might be some clever, well thought out, ‘timey wimey’ stuff but fundamentally is still relies on wishing things alright. Such a conclusion is a bit unsatisfying and too ‘fairy tale’ in essence.