AUDIO BOOK
Doctor Who
The Stone Rose

Author: Jacqueline Rayner
Read by: David Tennant
BBC Audio
Abridged
RRP: 9.99
ISBN 1 846 07063 5

Available 03 July 2006


Mickey is surprised to find a statue of Rose in a museum - a statue that is 2,000 years old. The Doctor realises that this means a trip to ancient Rome, but when they get there, he and Rose have more on their minds than sculpture. While the Doctor searches for a missing boy, Rose befriends a girl who claims to know the future - and learns that you have to be careful what you wish for...

When the print version of this book was released, the Tenth Doctor had so far only been seen at the very end of The Parting of the Ways, in the brief Children in Need mini-episode and in The Christmas Invasion. This audio book (one of a batch of three, the others being The Feast of the Drowned and The Resurrection Casket) offers fans a chance to reappraise Jacqueline Rayner's story in light of our increased familiarity with the new Doctor - especially since David Tennant himself is the one doing the reading.

Tennant is a talented voice artist, so he provides a wealth of different voices for the characters in the book. His imitation of Jackie is particularly effective - his rendering of Mickey less so. The aged Roman Gracilis sounds rather like Prince Charles, while the thuggish "sculptor" Ursus reminds me of Russell Crowe. Tennant's rendition of the GENIE comes across as not unlike London Mayor Ken Livingstone or the Ferengi Grand Nagus Zek in Star Trek: Deep Space Nine. Naturally, his impersonation of the Tenth Doctor is perfect! And because he reads in his native Scots brogue, it's easy to tell where the authorial voice ends and the Doctor's speech begins.

Rayner and Tennant get across the fact that the Tenth Doctor is more of a man of action than his predecessor was. Here he battles with gladiators and ferocious animals in a Roman arena. Unfortunately, there isn't much of an opportunity to explore the new Doctor's relationship with his companion, because first Rose and then the Doctor disappear for long sections of the story. The narrative is reliant on circular logic and a few mind-bending time paradoxes, while the presence of the reptilian wish-granting GENIE, which is reminiscent of E Nesbit's Psammead, means that the end result is somewhat on the silly side. However, in condensing her story for this two-and-a-half-hour audio presentation, the author tightens up what had been a rather run-around (or should that be roam-around?) plot.

The double CD is rounded off by an interview with (a rather giggly) Rayner, and is topped and tailed by Murray Gold's excellent version of the Doctor Who theme tune. One minor quibble is that none of the audio books features a pre-titles sequence, even though the original novels were all written so as to incorporate one.

This is an enjoyable reading of an enjoyable book - and at a bargain price. If only Christopher Eccleston could have done the same for Rayner's superior Winner Takes All.

Richard McGinlay

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