Top critical review
City of gold
on 23 May 2016
The Doctor takes Amy and Rory to a world where they can experience the famed hospitality of the city state of Geath. Things aren’t quite as he expects, however. The stable, thousands of year old democracy has been replaced by a monarchy and no one seems to mind. Perhaps, that’s because the city is covered in gold, exhibiting an abundance of wealth.
It must be relatively early on in the Tardis for Rory; not long after ‘The Vampires of Venice’, the events of which are fresh in his mind. The author has him exhibiting a lot of awe and wonder at his surroundings. There wasn’t much chance for this in the programme as he didn’t really go anywhere3 off Earth before his ‘demise’ in ‘Cold Blood’. It is, therefore, a nice touch for the author to play on this.
The initial stages of the novel are quite intriguing due to the setting being a mix of medieval and fantasy. Unfortunately this world lacks depth as we see very little of it apart from the city of Geath. The science fiction elements of the story take over quickly and things dully descend into an office meeting about administration and procedures. The fantasy style locale soon becomes irrelevant. There isn’t the subtle merging of science fiction touches that enrich the world in the way of ‘The Curse of Peladon’ or ‘The Androids of Tara’. Despite initial impressions this is a science fiction story rather than a fantasy or quasi-historical one.
Likewise, there’s also a quite spooky prologue, but the atmosphere of that is never recaptured, disappointingly.
Despite expectations the novel is light on dragons. Although it is an integral and vital part of the story, the ‘dragon’ is more of a plot artifice than anything. It is less of a dragon than that which appears in ‘Dragonfire’.
One of the interesting aspects of the story is that there aren’t really any villains as such. A strange metallic element, Enamour, has entranced people/aliens to act irrationally and the confrontations of the novel arte a result of this. It is clear that Amy and Rory are not immune to its charms and there is a hint that the Doctor isn’t either. How blinded people can become by wealth is, perhaps, a moral element to this novel that is somewhat underplayed.