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I Play With Vikings Now. Vikings Are Cool.

Mandy C. revisits an old—1,200-plus years old—friend and lives out an awesome Doctor Who episode in her imagination with Jenny T. Colgan’s Dark Horizons. PLUS: Win your own copy of the book!

I Play With Vikings Now. Vikings Are Cool.

BOOK REPORT for Doctor Who: Dark Horizons by Jenny T. Colgan

Cover Story: The Boat, The Boat, The Boat is On Fire
BFF Charm: Hell Yeah!
Swoonworthy Scale: 2
Talky Talk: Write Us an Episode
Bonus Factors: No Clara, Vikings, Norse Mythology
Anti-bonus Factor: Feels
Relationship Status: Companions

Cover Story: The Boat, The Boat, The Boat is On Fire

Doctor! Get your upper torso out of that fire! I’m guessing your tweed coat isn’t fireproof. In addition, there’s a burning boat about to hit you. Nothing about this situation is safe.

The Deal:

The Doctor goes looking for a chess partner and finds himself in the midst of an adventure (natch) involving a viking princess, her captors, the residents of a twelfth-century village and an alien entity that just doesn’t want to listen.

BFF Charm: Hell Yeah!

Although the eleventh regeneration isn’t “my doctor” (that would be Ten), I’ve long loved Eleven’s bubbly personality and think that he would make a amazing friend. He’s loyal, fun-loving and has an excited energy that’s contagious. At one point in Dark Horizons, he’s trying to keep a small boy’s mind off the danger at hand:

And they both stood up and screamed their injustices to the sky, and ran around. … they charged in circles at each other, laughing and growling and rumpusing in the fast-fading light.

Who wouldn’t want to be friends with someone who partakes in rumpusing?

Swoonworthy Scale: 2

As is often the case with Doctor Who, the main story in Dark Horizons wasn’t a romantic one. (And, thankfully, there were none of those unrequited love issues that tend to pop up from time to time.) There was a secondary storyline about a relationship between two of the additional characters, but it was minor.

Talky Talk: Write Us an Episode

Jenny Colgan’s writing made me feel like I was experiencing a Doctor Who episode in my head, which is to say that she captured Eleven’s personality and the feel of a Who episode brilliantly. For example:

“Was she?” said the Doctor, twiddling with some dials and, as usual when he had guests aboard, trying to modestly play down the TARDIS and pretend she wasn’t really that big a deal and he could take or leave her really, whilst waiting for the compliments and gasps of how amazing she was.

Henrick, however, just automatically assumed the Doctor hadn’t been able to afford the best wood and was feeling rather sorry for him.

There’s been talk about how few Doctor Who episodes have been written by women; I think Colgan could easily add “episode writer” to her CV.

Bonus Factor: No Clara

I don’t know about y’all, but I couldn’t stand Clara once she became Eleven’s major companion. I loved her as Oswin (in “Asylum of the Daleks”) and she wasn’t bad as Governess!Clara (in “The Snowmen”), but Modern!Clara was entitled, annoying and uninteresting to a fault. I tried to like her, but she and I just never clicked. (I hope she makes a quick exit after Twelve is brought on board.) So I was totally OK with the Doctor being companion-less in Dark Horizons.

Bonus Factor: Vikings

Vikings! They’re ruthless, bloodthirsty warriors who raped and pillaged up and down Atlantic coastlines for hundreds of years. And yet … they’re totally fascinating. Plus, in Dark Horizons, some of them have more to their personalities than just thoughts about food and “fun.”

Bonus Factor: Norse Mythology

The Doctor’s appearance, mannerisms, intelligence and gadgets are often unfamiliar to those he visits. When he appears to a group of Norsemen, it’s no surprise that they might think him one of their gods. There’s a little bit of Norse mythology (and Doctor meddling) smattered throughout Dark Horizons. (Plus, my fandom-addled brain made a ridiculous leap from Doctor Who to The Avengers because of the god in question, and that made me smile.)

Anti-bonus Factor: Feels

Matt Smith’s time as the Doctor is coming to an end, and a new Doctor will (hopefully) be introduced later this year. I have truly enjoyed Eleven, and although I won’t be as heartbroken to see him go as I was Ten (I still get weepy thinking of “The End of Time” three-plus years later), it’s hard to “lose” any character you’ve grown accustomed to. I’m going to miss his squishy, eyebrow-lite face.

Casting Call:

Matt Smith as The Doctor


Rosamund Pike as Freydis

Freydis is a Viking princess, which means that she’s both feminine and a fighter. Rosamund is utterly lovely, but isn’t waif-like. Plus, she’s already played a princess (albeit a Greek one).

Chris Hemsworth as Henrick

Henrick is a farm boy-turned-Viking with a heart of gold. Chris’ looks and acting experience lead me to believe that he’d do quite well in this role.

Relationship Status: Companions*

Our first adventure together was great, Book, even though there was a little more danger and a whole lot less indoor plumbing than I’m used to. When are we leaving for the next one? Can we go to the planet Midnight? I hear there’s an absolutely stunning waterfall made from sapphires.

*You should have seen this coming.

Want to win your very own copy of Doctor Who: Dark Horizons? Leave a comment below letting us know who your Doctor is and why he's your fave. One lucky winner will be randomly chosen Aug. 8. Make sure to check the comments next Thursday to claim your prize! The contest is now closed.

FTC Full Disclosure: I received a free review copy from The Random House Group. I received neither mint chocolate chip ice cream nor money for this review (dammit!). Dark Horizons is available now in the U.K. and will be available in the U.S. Aug. 13.

Mandy Curtis's photo About the Author: Mandy is a small town girl living in a nerdy world, or—if you want to get literal—an editor/writer living in Austin, TX. In addition to yearning for YA books—the more dystopian or fantastical, the better—she can also be found swooning over superheroes, dreaming of The Doctor and grinning at GIFs.