The Year of Intelligent Tigers
|ISBN||0 563 53831 7|
|Synopsis: The Doctor turns his back on his friends to search for secrets of the tigers, leaving Fitz and Anji on their own trying to prevent a war.|
A Review by Richard Radcliffe 8/8/01
I approached this book with excitement, yet trepidation. I don’t mind admitting that I haven’t read that many Orman books before. I had read the first few of her books. I found Left-Handed Hummingbird not interesting enough, Sleepy was appropriately named etc etc. But Seeing I had been bought and read because of its high score in the DWM survey. And Seeing I was a good book – a book you could really get your teeth into. That’s the thing about Orman books. They are very involved. They really are a feast, and feasts take a long time to consume. I am one of those people that have small stomachs. I like the snacks that were the TARGET books – and the traditional fare served up by the Nightshade, Gadarene and Grave Matters of this world.
But Intelligent Tigers got some good reviews from the major magazines. I had bought the last eleven 8th Doctor books, and I decided to extend that streak (It has stopped though just before the latest Dave Stone offering, who is my least favorite author).
At first I wasn’t sure about the premise. Walking, talking Tigers? Is this going to be DWs Watership Down? What we got is a very intelligent book. Like Orman books of the past it is a feast – every paragraph is filled with meaning, every scene resonates with conflicting emotions. And to be honest, it was a struggle to get through, and it took me longer to read than most books. I’m not sure if I like that. This isn’t your easy reading of Eater of Wasps or Shadow in the Glass (and that’s a compliment by the way. This is a flip-back book, where you are constantly referring to previous passages to make sure you understood things right.
Hitchemus is a fascinating world. It has to be for the Doctor, Fitz and Anji to spend a considerable amount of time there. The Doctor becomes a virtuoso Violinist. The musical theme of the book is explored in great detail. Often when I read I could hear the orchestra in the background. If this were ever dramatized it would need a massive orchestra to back up the action.
The Doctor is wonderfully unpredictable too. The mystery of the character is played to the limit, as he switches sides throughout. What is he up to? Fitz and Anji help the story along in contrasting ways. Fitz just lets the Doctor get on with it, he loves the adventure of it all. Fitz has never been written so well. Anji lets the Doctor’s unpredictability worry her. She is constantly worrying over his motives, which carries on the themes of the last few books. Her relationship with the Doctor is far from perfect. The main supporting character is Karl – the conductor. His relationship with the Doctor was the least enjoyable aspect of the book. The Doctor seems to get very involved with him, and I got the impression that Karl feelings towards him were more than friendship. The Doctor seems to encourage this, which I was uneasy with.
The contrasting cultures of Hitchemus are described very well. The Bewilderness with its ancient monuments, the spaceport with its vast array of art and culture. I could never get my head around the Tigers though. They were originally pets and so have ludicrous names like Bounce and Longbody. When they become aggressive these names are just daft.
There is plenty to like about this book. It’s better than any Orman book I have read before for sure. If you want a book that you can really get your teeth into – then Tigers is the one for you. Kate Orman is clearly a very good writer. I just don’t have the concentration span to appreciate her books to the fullest, which is probably my loss. 7/10.
A Review by Mike Morris 10/8/01
Ah, Kate Orman and Jon Blum. They're nothing like a bus service; they seem to come along more or less exactly when they're needed. After the fairly disastrous opening to the EDA range with The Eight Doctors, OrmanBlum gave us Vampire Science to reassure us that it wasn't all going to be this bad; and, when the EDA's were seriously floundering with two terrible and faceless lead characters, OrmanBlum resurrected them with Seeing I. Neither of the two novels were flawless, but they had weight, gravitas, conviction, and emerged themselves completely in the characters of The Doctor and his companion (in Seeing I, they actually made Sam likeable. Shame it couldn't last).
The Year of Intelligent Tigers claims to be a solo Kate Orman novel, but Kate Orman makes it pretty clear that Jon Blum had a lot to do with it. The gestalt entity that is OrmanBlum is a little more reined-in than Kate Orman solo and has certainly never come to close to the heights that Kate reached with The Left-Handed Hummingbird, which is one of the few New Adventures that I regularly re-read. In a way, I wasn't looking forward to this; I wasn't really in the mood for another tome on how wonderful Paul McGann is, and yes he IS a vegetarian - which is where some of the previous OrmanBlum books have drifted on occasion.
I was wrong. The Year of Intelligent Tigers is undoubtedly the best book with Kate Orman's name on the cover under the BBC imprint. It's a fine novel that, as I said before, has come along just when needed. Enjoyable as the three previous books were, we needed something to really solidify where the main characters were going. The Year of Intelligent Tigers immerses itself in the characters of The Doctor and Anji by repeating a narrative trick that was used so effectively in The Silurians; the Doctor turns his back on humans. But more than that, it creates a remarkably effective alien planet, painted in vivid colours, and really sucks the reader in. It is, in short, an excellent piece of work. Its effectiveness is limited by a huge (and understandable) flaw at its centre; I'll come to that later. I'd like to dwell on the positives first.
First of all, Anji. Anji has been given a hell of a lot of internal dialogue, angsting and word-count in the previous four novels, and the results have been mixed. She's such an ordinary, everyday character that she felt real, but that wasn't to say I really felt as though I knew her.
Here, Anji's character has been crystallised, and the dynamic between the three characters is excellent. Anji doesn't trust the Doctor. She trusts Fitz, all right, and is almost beginning to like him; but Fitz is so in thrall to the Doctor that she doesn't really trust him either. What we're left with is a character with an astonishing strength-of-mind and a fine capacity for losing her temper. In fact, she's rather like Tegan, but more analytical, more intelligent, and slightly less likeable (Anji's far more manipulative than Tegan was). Still, if a character reminds me of Tegan there's undoubtedly a lot going for her.
Fitz does well here too; his faith in the Doctor, underlined in the past few books, is both touching and disturbing. It seems to me that Fitz has of late become more dysfunctional than ever before; it's impossible to imagine him coping with life without the Doctor these days. I don't know if this is a deliberate direction for the EDA's, but it's interesting, and suggests that Fitz is certainly going to be let down badly by his friend sooner or later.
The Year of Intelligent Tigers also focuses on a rather neglected part of Fitz's personality. This is a planet where music is the lynchpin of society, where everyone plays an instrument of sorts. And Fitz is a musician. Many people have focused on how Fitz is a rock-star-wannabe, but here he's a musician, happily strumming outside pubs, busking, writing his own songs which are better than you'd expect. It's a forgotten facet to his character, and I'm glad to see it on show here. Interstingly the frustrated rock star in him comes out later, and its somewhat less convincing, which I suspect might just be deliberate.
Music is a huge part of this book, and it works. It's a key part of many character motivations, the storytelling structure references it, and the Doctor's character is expressed through it. Karl is a character who works incredibly well, and he's almost totally defined by his love of music. The downside is that there's too many mentions of The Beatles for my liking. I hate The Beatles, they're just so overrated, anodyne pop-ditties elevated to a ludicrous level by people who should know better, and John Lennon was an utter gobshite - yeah, okay, this is a subjective point (which I'll argue with anyone, by the way). But it is a gripe of mine; a lot of the books have the Doctor as a Beatles-lover (Eye of Heaven is a prime offender) and this just feels wrong. I can't quite visualise the Doctor humming Love Me Do or (god help us) Octopus's Garden. To be fair, in this book it's Fitz who's the Beatles-lover, but - oh, all right, forget it, I'm babbling.
The Doctor. The Doctor is good here; the passages describing him alone in the wilderness are marvellous, and the interludes are just wonderful, maybe the best-written bits in the book. In fact, this book, along with Jon Blum's lovely short stories in More Short Trips and Missing Pieces, have made me think that these two shouldn't actually write together. I don't care how happily married they are, the seem to produce their best work when writing solo. That's a compliment, not a criticism.
But, returning the Doctor's character, he undergoes a hefty examination here; his motives, his actions, his sheer frustration at the way two opposing factions behave. His interaction with the Tigers is great; his actions at the end are thought-provoking, leaving the reader wondering if he did the right thing or not. This is the book's great strength. And this, folks, is also the book's major weakness.
The recent EDA's are portraying a Doctor we can't quite trust, capable of moments of violence, and with occasional lack of compassion. By having the Doctor turn his back on the humans and join the Tigers, Kate Orman is clearly having a go at this too (and his interaction with Anji also goes with this direction). But it doesn't work, for the best of reasons.
The author just likes the Doctor too much.
No matter how much she tries, I always knew the Doctor was going to sort things out eventually, and he was never really going to abandon Fitz and Anji. Even in the moments when he's behaving badly, the prose positively drools over him, and goes to great lengths to portray him as tragic and tormented, instead of plain wrong. Eater of Wasps really gave us a Doctor who was insensitive, who didn't show any levels of compassion at times, who was difficult to really like and who might just let you down. Kate Orman, though, is so in love with the character of the Doctor that I don't think she's capable of writing him this way; and so, the questioning of the Doctor's motives are unconvincing, and those sections of the book fall flat on their face.
That's the negative. It is, undoubtedly, a big problem. On many occasions The Year of Intelligent Tigers just lacks punch. Another negative is that the incredibly apocalyptic climax isn't really that well described, and I found a lot of re-reading of paragraphs necessary. It's not wildly offensive, and I'm judging by the very high standards set by the earlier prose (the descriptive passages and visual imagery are excellent, something that tends to be variable in Orman's work). It's refreshing to finally get a book without overdone POV, as well.
But, these problems notwithstanding, The Year of Intelligent Tigers is easily the most worthy novel since The Turing Test. It's very much concerned with the Doctor and his companions, and how they're interacting. As such I suspect it isn't going to be so impressive if you don't read the novels in sequence. But it's a fine piece of work, and in this review I haven't even mentioned the sheer brilliance of the tigers. I said that this book has a lot of vivid colours; suffice it to say that the most dominant of all is orange.
Excellent, recommended, and necessary.
A Review by Steve Traylen 14/8/01
< fanboy > Why is this book called *Year* of the Intelligent Tigers? it only takes place over a few weeks! I think the authors should get their selves sorted out! < / fanboy >
I really, really liked Year of the Clever Kittys. It's pretty small scale, no universe saving here, and there are no real villains. It's just a nice fairly simple tail (pun intended!) of music and Tigers. And it really works.
The Doctor gets plenty to do, and there is some nice character stuff for Anji, that I hope we see more of. There are no space battles, no nasty aliens, just some people and some tigers. I can see though why some of the fan boys who just like monsters and running up and down corridors won't like it though.
A good novel, and I use that word deliberately.
A Review by Finn Clark 17/8/01
This review contains no spoilers and may safely be read by all.
I thought this book was quite good. It's not amazing, it's not going to shake the world, but it does quite a number of important things very well indeed.
What it's not is an action-packed thriller. This is an investigative SF novel in the tradition of Ursula le Guin or Sheri Tepper, posing us a scientific puzzle of aliens on an alien world and inviting us to watch as the solution is unfurled. It's well thought out, ingenious and convincing. I really believed in the world being explored and I thought the eponymous tigers were among the best monsters we've ever seen in a Doctor Who novel. Admittedly this isn't a large claim as the novels' attempts at monsters have almost without exception sucked, but still I was impressed. The tigers have not just character but presence, a much harder trick to pull off than you'd think.
The Doctor is... well, you can tell Kate tried. Boy, did she. Sweat practically drips from the pages. She builds the entire book around the Doctor, giving him lots and lots to do. It's great stuff, much of it long overdue. The Doctor actually interacts with the tigers, takes tentative steps towards acquiring a personality and is the engine and raison d'etre of the book in a manner we too rarely see. Bravo! Ten out of ten for effort. Unfortunately it's still the Eighth Doctor and he's still basically boring as hell, especially now the Earth arc's done and dusted, but it's certainly head and shoulders above most of what we've been given since 1996.
In a way, it's a huge compliment to Kate that I'm not screaming from the rooftops about how good the Eighth Doctor is herein. The quality of this book made me realise how drastically I'd lowered my 8DA expectations. Getting him some character is probably a bit much to hope for, but making him the hero of his own novels is (sadly) noteworthy in itself.
Other points deserve mentioning. The Year of Intelligent Tigers is thankfully free of fannish politics and "look how rad I am!" agendas, which was a pleasant surprise. I liked that. However I have a small worry about Anji. She's an economist in the hands of a stable of authors who largely, um, aren't. I believe Benny's exploits were not infrequently painful for the archeologically literate and I can see winces a-plenty in store for me over the next few years. There's one here. It's not a goof, but it distracted me. 
If I had to describe this novel in one word, it would be "pastoral". Reading it is a pleasant experience, relaxing and charming. It's not hard to put down, but you'll probably find yourself finishing it quickly anyway. Recommended.
 Page five appeared to imply that the colony is a town and nothing more. What, no farms? Where would their food come from? Of course we eventually learned about the farms to the south and I proved to have been worrying about nothing, but if you're going to start discussing economics then you risk raising questions like this in the minds of your readers. But that's just me being disturbingly pedantic...
Four out of Five by Jamas Enright 1/10/01
Kate Orman has been renown in the world of Doctor Who novels largely from her status of the only female Doctor Who writer (which is no longer true). After writing several solo books for the Virgin New Adventures, she teamed up with her husband Jon Blum to write for BBC Books. The Year of Intelligent Tigers is a return to her solo career, although Jon Blum is listed as having co-wrote the outline and has a biography in the Authors entry at the back of the book.
The Year of Intelligent Tigers isn't a usual Orman book, in that there aren't lashing of liberal politics, no pyramids (the Stela comes close) and the Doctor isn't strapped down and tortured (although he does get knocked about a bit). Instead what we have is a fine tale about a human colony versus indigenous non-humans.
The Tigers join the growing group of Cat people, yet are more cat than furry human. Much is made of how just because they look like Earth tigers, this is no more than a superficial appearance, and the Tigers here have a distinct biology and ecology. Given this, however, I found it highly unlikely that they would refer to themselves as tigers, a purely human term.
One of the great things about this book is that no-one is presented as right in what they do. Each side turns to violence to solve their problems, which makes each side have more in common than either would admit. One of the simplest solutions would be the application of outside force, but Kate Orman keeps blocking that option, even at one point seemingly letting the humans talk to an off-planet ship. This help keeps the story isolated, yet also maintains the outside world, which makes it more realistic that the typical 'humans against aliens' genre example.
Unfortunately, the back cover gave away a change in the Doctor's loyalties, but it was about time that happened. In many ways, this just helped show up the Doctor as alien to everyone, not human although he appears to be, and certainly not tiger when surrounded by them. I was a little hesitant in accepting the Doctor's sudden violin abilities, but there have been a lot worse plot devices than that employed before.
Fitz was a non-force in this book, indeed the one thing he was to do was to slow the humans down. Despite the musical nature of the world, and that we finally get to see him in a setting that he can truly fit into, Fitz just doesn't get anything to do to make him stand out.
As Fitz got to be a musician, so did we finally have an example of Anji using her skills, not so much as an economist, but to help organise and do some actual research. But again, not a huge role in events.
Karl Sadeghi and Besma Grieve were the main humans. Not being a huge fan of how music happens, Karl didn't really have much impact on me, and it wasn't until his non-music actions towards the end that he really started becoming a real character. Besma was the token professor of the Tigers, and eventually merely a way of showing how cold the Doctor is.
On the side of the Tigers, we have Big, Longbody and Bounce, Bounce being my favourite. Big was simple, character-wise, but Longbody got a lot of development, although I thought her exit scene was on the callous side.
The Year of Intelligent Tigers is a very readable book, one that I enjoyed a lot. Here's hoping Kate Orman's back for another.
A Review by Dave Roy 18/10/01
Year of Intelligent Tigers is a wonderful book. When you pick up a Kate Orman book, you know you're going to get an interesting read, even if you don't necessarily like the book. Unnatural History was a book that seemed to be written with a fannish agenda in mind. It really brought down what was an otherwise enjoyable story. This one goes back to the Orman staple of examining characters, especially that of the Doctor.
It's no secret that Kate really likes the Eighth Doctor, and you can always tell that when you read one of her books. He comes alive on the page. It has often been said that the Eighth Doctor doesn't seem to have much character, but that's never true in one of Kate's books. It's so nice that the Doctor actually does something, rather than being a bystander as he has been in many Eighth Doctor books.
This book also continues the storyline of Anji's doubting of the Doctor. Things are going from bad to worse there. For the first time, he appears to side with the aliens against the humans. He's not just being callous anymore, he appears to have gone to the other side. When one of the humans is killed and the Doctor just steps over them without even batting an eyelash, Anji doesn't know what to think. Again, Anji has nothing to compare this to, unlike Fitz. Fitz tries really hard to run interference for the Doctor, knowing that the Doctor couldn't betray them. Could he?
Fitz's dilemma is moving. He's torn between love for the Doctor and uncertainty about what's going to happen. He's just a plain, simple guy trying to do the right thing, even though he sometimes doesn't know what that is. You really have to feel for him sometimes, especially in this book. He's trying to delay the humans because the Doctor must have a plan. He just hasn't told them what it is. He's the only one of the humans that trusts the Doctor anymore, and he feels quite alone.
The tigers also make interesting characters. I found myself really growing attached to Longbody, Bounce, and even Big a little bit. Orman gives them all distinct personalities, motivations, and character. Longbody is distrustful, Bounce is an idealistic child, and Big is a pragmatic leader who has to handle not only the humans, but dissension within his own ranks.
The novel itself has an interesting feel to it. There is action in it, and violence. Yet it doesn't feel like there's a lot in there. The pace is a lot more leisurely than Eater of Wasps. For the first time in awhile, the TARDIS crew is taking a holiday, and the book takes on that feel. Even when the Tigers plan is revealed, the pace is leisurely, almost like a sociological study of two societies than an adventure book. Yet it's still good.
Orman makes both societies interesting and worthy of the time spent on them. Even when the action starts, it's a lot slower than most Who books. The ending came as a surprise as well. I won't spoil it here, but let's just say that the Doctor comes up with an un-Doctorly solution, but yet it doesn't seem out of character. Everything that's happened in this book leads up to it, and it works.
I definitely have to recommend this book. It's not a non-stop roller-coaster ride, but actually requires a little thought and paying attention. But that's ok. It's worth it.
The Year of Intelligent Reading by Robert Smith? 31/10/01
I wanted to like The Year of Intelligent Tigers more than I did. I enjoyed the novel, don't get me wrong, and I think it's near-flawless, in the sense that there's certainly nothing wrong that I could point to, but the pace grinds it to a halt at times. I put this down for a week and had little inclination to pick it up again. Even relatively action-filled ending contributed to the impression that events were meandering their way to a conclusion.
I think I enjoyed the first part of the novel best of all. The music-playing world sounds a bit like "the world of the Scottish people" in the best ST:TNG tradition, but it's conveyed with considerable style. The music takes a back seat once the tigers take over, even though the events are linked, but it falls so much out of the foreground that it's genuinely surprising when people start playing instruments again in the last chapter. That said, conveying music in a novel has the potential to be uphill work, or repetitious (see Rags, for instance) so it's great to see how successful it is here.
Fitz slots in well with the musical theme, naturally, but a lot of time is spent on the Doctor's violin playing. The eighth Doctor playing the violin seems so natural you wonder why no one's done it before. I'm a little confused about the tune the Doctor's so desperately searching for (a quest which gets tacked on in the last 50 pages or so). Is it the song Fitz wrote about him? Is it the Ron Grainer theme music? It's hard to decide. I'm not sure why this wasn't a running theme throughout the rest of the novel as well, but I don't think enough is made of it for us to try and puzzle out the answer (assuming we're meant to, ala the zen problem in The Room With No Doors).
Anji gets a lot to do and it works quite well, but I'm extraordinarily glad that this book is placed where it is. It's close enough to her introduction to work, yet enough time has passed that her character has been established. I mention this only because the New Companion Who Doubts The Doctor schtick has been done before with disastrous results in subsequent books that I don't think we'll see here. It's left fairly ambiguous just how many of Anji's doubts are justified, especially at the end, but the point isn't laboured, which I appreciate. The Doctor's non-reaction to Besma's corpse feels exactly right, in a way that similar attempts in other post-Earth-arc books haven't. (especially Eater of Wasps' "Kill him!").
The humans have a token character in the form of Karl, who works well enough. It's a bit of a shame we don't see more than about three scenes with Quick, because he seemed like an interesting character (who gets more payoff than he probably deserves in the ending), but I can understand this. It's the tigers who are the real heroes of the book and Longbody, Big and Bounce are really well characterised. Bounce's fate in particular is incredibly moving and Longbody has just the right amount of menace and doubt.
On the downside, the book is slow. Very slow. I'm not sure how much of a fault this is, because I appreciate the efforts to show diplomacy and characterisation instead of great battles and the like (although weirdly, even when the great battles do turn up they're still slow moving), but there seemed to be something missing from the book. This could have been the great EDA novel that we've all been patiently waiting for, but it stops some way short of that. I'm tempted to say that it's not ambitious enough, but I don't think that's quite it.
The Kate Orman Big Lie [(c) L. Miles] is at its most blatant yet, though. There's no poverty on Hichemus and everyone happily lives in the perfect society because, um, as best I can tell, because the author says so. Oh, and Besma talks in a weird sentence construction, emphasising odd words for no apparent reason, like she was in a comic strip where they bold every fourth word. I thought this was some sort of character trait, as she's doing this every time we see her at the beginning, but it tails off at the end. Italicising words to make sure the reader puts the right emphasis on them is not only amateurish, it's insulting. It's fine if you're posting an article to usenet or debating a point via email, but if the sentence construction in your novel is unable to make your point without this juvenile tactic, then you're doing something seriously wrong.
I liked the two historical interludes (courtesy of Jon Blum), especially the very clever reference to Eater of Wasps. The stylistic tricks with the chapters, both the Chapters Nine Ten Eleven Twelve and the various titles ("Fitz don't fail me now" had me laughing out loud) are also fun. The map was also really useful (and answers Finn Clark's question about farms before the book even begins). Karl's various pieces of advice were also handy to break up the narrative here and there.
Overall, only the slow pace got to me, but otherwise I enjoyed The Year of Intelligent Tigers. It's a very mature work, far more interested in exploring what makes its characters tick than having big action set pieces and battles. It's a very good book, for sure, and if there's something not quite right, there are still a great many things that are. And the relative lack of continuity is keeping these books fresh and new, which is always great to see. Slowly but surely the BBC are finally carving out their own slice of Doctor Who.
Something To Sink Your Teeth Into by Robert Thomas 13/11/01
On the whole this is my favourite EDA of the year, this in a very good year for the range. A fantastic book that has something of an epic feel to it. Surprisingly since it has tigers in it you may be surprised to find out this isn't much of an action story but more character based.
This is the best we've seen The Doctor since the earth arc ended. He is very raw in this story, emotional as we have seen him for... perhaps ever. His choice to side with the tigers isn't surprising due to reception he gets from the humans. Because of this we are unsure if his motivation throughout the story is spite.
Anji however didn't really grab me for this story, she has some good scenes early on but for the majority of this story she really got on my nerves. She was very uppity and I'm beginning to think she not only doesn't like Fitz and The Doctor but is starting to hate them.
Fitz though is handled very well, where Anji being out of her depth isn't done too well Fitz is. Stalling everything in his hope The Doctor has a plan and his busking is marvoulous.
The humans can be summed up in one word - gits. Very annoying, ungrateful and mostly bar Karl unmemorable. Karl though is a character and a half and I enjoyed his relationship with The Doctor. I'm currently reading The Turing Test and it's nice to see The Doctor having a similar friendship as he did with Turing when he has the TARDIS for the reader to see if there is any change in him.
The Tigers however make this book. Utterly fantastic and the most rounded of the society, honorable, devious and playful. I very much enjoyed there playing and all, its hard to explain if you haven't read it.
Some people have called this book boring and slow, I disagree but can understand why they think this, it depends how drawn into the characters you are. I think the climax isn't handled technically as it could be, and if it wasn't for the heavy musical influence and feel I don't think I'd have known what was happening. Also there are some interludes which seem to have nothing to do with the story. Apart from these little nit picks, the best of the year.
What an ending! by Joe Ford 14/1/02
I have never read a Kate Orman book before this one, to be honest I only selected certain Virgin New Adventures to read (The Also People, Damaged Goods) and alas Kate's name never turned up on the cover. More fool me! This is a masterpiece from begining to end, a tragic, engrossing story, well paced and fascinating throughout.
Hitchemus is a delightful place to visit and Kate fills the first few chapters full of marvellous descriptions of the island. Like the Doctor, Fitz and Anji's holiday I let myself drift off into this marvellously alien place and to add to the mood I put some music on too.
But enough of my strange habits...the characterisation is superlative, being so fond of The Doc/Anji relationship I was delighted to see it developed here even if it's not for the better. Their scene together after Besma was killed was a top moment of drama. Fitz too is given a great moment to shine, his improvised orchestra provides a nice interlude to all the carnage.
Karl was a fascinating figure, made doubly so by his wonderful attempts to work the Doctor out. Even though he was sidelined throughout the story his scenes with the Doc, their childish fight at the begining and their solemn understanding of each other at the end stand out in particular, enrich the story.
For a thoughtful, well drawn 'monster' race, the tigers were some of the best Who has ever provided. Kate chose the right stereotypes to portray them, the respected leader, the enthiastic teen, the sly enemy... but with her wonderful grip on characters and filling the book with tragic revelations she twists the Tigers into something more than your average 'we want to take over your settlement' monsters. I for one was on neither side and could see both points of view, merely gripped to see who would win, a sure sign of a good writer.
But it's the Doctor who reigns supreme here. Not since Father Time in the Earth arc has he been such a compelling figure. Leaving huge question marks as to where his loyalties lie, Kate creates a dashing, mysterious and (this might seem obvious but to most writers it eludes them) alien character. He simply bursts from the pages with energy and madness and reminds me of why I fell in love with the character in the first place!
The plot is pretty simple, we attack them, they attack us but written with such passion and pace I was left breathless at the end. And FULL MARKS for the gob smackingly memorable ending with our manic Doctor going to extreme measures to make everyone pay attention to him and create peace. Truly, utterly brilliant!
I shall certainly seek out what Kate Orman books I can, she has an
excellent grasp on how Who novels should be written. I truly hope
she is commisioned again soon.
In his recent review of The Gallifrey Chronicles Finn Clark described the amnesiac eighth Doctor as a mentally unbalanced drama queen. First I thought this was wrong, then I thought about it long and hard and I realised that Finn was perfectly right with one small error... it is a great thing! For me the (amnesiac) eighth Doctor was explored in much more depth than many of the others, his character was the focus of lots of strong books in his range (The Burning, The Turing Test, Father Time, EarthWorld, City of the Dead, The Adventuress of Henrietta Street, Camera Obscura, Halflife, The Sleep of Reason and The Gallifrey Chronicles all take a good, long look at this new Doctor... and oh look they appear to be the most popular of his entire range!) and the focus was far more on the Doctor rediscovering himself (or what he has become) rather than concentrating on companions that were stronger characters than he was (ala the Virgin New Adventures). The Year of Intelligent Tigers is a vital chapter in the eighth Doctor's life and one of the all-time best looks at ANY Doctor and is the book which marks the eighth Doctor as a diplomat (Kate Orman and Jon Blum suggested as much in Vampire Science) rather than the conqueror (which aptly sums up his predecessor).
Following the trend since the Caught on Earth arc we are asked to intimately explore the Doctor's identity, who he is and what his place is in the universe. These questions stopped being asked in the early eighth Doctor books, getting too tangled up in a complex arc plot. Early scenes in this book express his indecision beautifully; when he was trapped on Earth all he wanted to do was escape and travel the stars but now he has achieved that aim all he wants is to find somewhere to belong. Home. His trip into the Bewilderness is a great metaphor for the Doctor's wish to fit in... it is with great sadness when he admits he does not belong with the Tigers. He brings the book alive exhibiting very Doctorish traits; throwing tantrums, dashing into danger, throwing himself obsessively into a mystery and he is painted with a touch of misery and hopelessness too, which was unique until Eccleston's victim Doctor turned up. The weather is used as a (not very subtle but extremely effective) metaphor for his whirlwind of emotions, brewing up a terrifying electric storm to stop a nuclear attack and bringing the planet to the brink of calamity just to get both sides in the conflict to listen to his pleas for peace.
Just picture him, his long hair cut off, his clothes torn to shreds, battered and bruised and playing with bunch of kittens in the heart of the enemies camp. This man could do anything... The Year of Intelligent Tigers produces a reinvigorated Doctor who can control the elements and walk away from a conflict where the violence has sickened him. "Save your own world for a change" he shouts amidst a battlefield. We have a brand new, unique Doctor, fully refreshed after his one hundred year makeover.
I don't think we should ever skip over how important Kate Orman is to the world of Doctor Who fiction. She was the first important female writer ever to write for the show. That's not to dismiss the work of Barbara Clegg and Rona Munro who both provide wonderfully sensual scripts for the series but Kate Orman was the first female author we looked forward to, someone we knew could deliver, a writer who was as important as the top male writers for the NAs/EDAs. She was so in love with both McCoy and McGann's Doctor's that she wrote some smashing stories for them to feature in. She was almost too good at torturing him and providing a book that lacks easy answers. Reading her books is like having an exquisite hour-long massage, a truly sensual experience with a writing style that favoured strong characterisation over heavy plotting. She is a fantastic writer and even on her off days (Return of the Living Dad was a little too soapy, Unnatural History is a mysterious stinker) there is usually something to enjoy.
The opening chapters of The Year of Intelligent Tigers feature some of Kate's best writing for Doctor Who. The world of Hitchemus is beautifully brought alive by her striking, beautiful prose. All the best planets on Doctor Who have a hook that makes them uniquely memorable (Inter Minor was the politician planet, the Cheetah Planet linked its inhabitants to the planet itself, Frontios was the planet of death) and Hitchemus is the planet of music. It sounds like a terrible idea and I was amazed that it was pulled off this well. Talking/writing about music seems to me to be a total waste of time; it is a purely sensual experience, one that is uniquely adept at playing with your emotions in an instant. Kate Orman effortlessly breathes music into her story, the opening chapters in particular are genuinely accompanied by an entire orchestra (go on, listen, you can actually hear it...). The atmosphere of the planet crackles with music of all kinds, Anji is assaulted by noise from every direction and the Doctor's manic violin playing is dizzying realistic.
Which is not dismissing the rest of the book which is full of sounds, scents and colours. Considering EarthWorld was Earth-themed and the planet in Vanishing Point might as well have been Earth, The Year of Intelligent Tigers is the first real trip to an alien planet that feels alien. Kate brings it alive with lots of exotic descriptions and reminds us of what we have been missing being stuck on Earth for so long.
EarthWorld brought companions Fitz and Anji into sharp focus and explained who they are and where they have come from ready for this book to explore where they are going together. The get to spend some time apart on Hitchemus and we get closer to them than we ever have before.
Fitz surprised me a lot; I didn't think he had it in him anymore, considering how many books he starred in. His love for the Doctor shines from every page and he barely even considers leaving him despite the fact that Hitchemus is the perfect planet for him (paying his way with music). I loved his idle thoughts about their more turbulent moments, it is only when your life allows you time to relax that you realise how brave you really are. His best scene comes later on though, where he improvises a band to play for the people on the eve of battle, a chance to remind them all what they are fighting for. Considering his character-specifics, a sleazy, sex-crazed bum from the sixties, Fitz is capable of incredible depth and pathos and this is a good example of a character growing up and offering something nobody else could. It is a triumphant scene for Fitz.
I can understand why people were resistant to Anji at first as she isn't portrayed as your usual, dappy, "I'll put all my faith you" bint but rather a strong-willed woman with her own strong opinions that conflict with the Doctor's. It helps that the Doctor is acting so strangely these days, not at all like his old fluffy self and some of Anji's accusations are genuinely valid. My favourite Anji scene came when she is was walking through an alien field with Besma discussing their lives, it was wonderfully relaxed and warm and set the scene for Besma's shocking death (and Anji's shocking reaction) perfectly.
There is a real sense that the three travellers have finally reached a stage where they all want to stay together and see what the future brings.
Because this is such a relaxed book (comments elsewhere that this book is easily putdownable are perhaps a little harsh, Orman compensates the slow pace with great characterisation and striking writing) it helps that there is an ingenious narrative device plopped two thirds into the book. The same scene is shown from four different viewpoints, allowing us a unique look at where the book is for the Doctor, Fitz, Anji and Karl and how their actions are affecting each other. It's Kate Orman once again demonstrating her thoughtful writing, not pigeonholing the book through one perspective but allowing us to see so many and making up our own minds who we agree with and don't.
I found the mystery of the storehouse and why the Tigers were inconsistently intelligent from one generation to the next well worth sticking with. It helps that the Doctor is so caught up in the mystery and his excitement to discover the truth is infectious. His frustration when the humans attempt to destroy both storehouses mirrored my own and gave that book the sense of danger it needs to get you turning the pages quickly.
Karl is a fascinating character because his every action in the book is driven by his desire for the Doctor. It is easy to find the Doctor so compelling when we are seeing him through the eyes of Karl and they enjoy a series of turbulent encounters as dramatic as the music they are trying to create together. I loved their discussion about the Doctor's lifestyle ("I think it sounds wonderful" says Karl, half drunk) and their sudden, blazing row (so realistic when it blows that out of control that quickly) sets the tone for their unrequited romance. Karl's ultimate mistake, releasing the flood gates to save the Doctor and not thinking about the lives he would throw away (you know this would be punctuated by dramatic violin playing!). His distress at the Doctor's horrified reaction is heartbreaking. It is a touching reminder of how the Doctor can touch your life and disappear leaving an aching heart behind.
There's not much else to say really aside from the Tiger personalities, which are all well thought out and memorable. This is a fascinating book to read, especially in the wake of the eighth Doctor's adventures, which offers some stunning character drama and worldbuilding, the likes of which we really don't see very often. Orman proves she hasn't lost her touch and her prose is at an all time high.
Another original EDA that holds up years after its release.
A Review by Andrew McCaffrey 21/1/02
At first I wasn't sure if I was going to like The Year of Intelligent Tigers. It starts off quite slowly, with a lot of leisurely scenes that are interesting and enjoyable, but don't really get the blood pumping. It seems like it's trying to do the Doctor-and-companions-on vacation thing, but not doing it quite as well as Ben Aaronovitch had done in his fabulous The Also People. Fortunately, the opening sections are merely setting the stage for what comes later. The result is a book that is easily one of the best of the EDAs.
This is a much more in-depth and demanding novel than the previous three in the EDA range, and it's all that much more rewarding. Once the plot kicks in, it drives the action in a relaxed, yet steady pace. Several wonderful set pieces space out the more story-driven sequences and provide us with numerous memorable images. The Eighth Doctor works incredibly well as a sort of mad violinist, and it's great to see him putting his passion towards something other than running around quickly. The musical references invade every part of the book, from the structure to the dialogue to the tone. The mentions are plentiful, but never clumsy, and are slipped in with a lot of care.
The society of tigers is quite well realized and there is a genuine sense of mystery and anticipation as more and more of their culture and history is slowly revealed. I won't give away too much, but there are some great surprises contained in these sections. Numerous Doctor Who cliches are borrowed from, but they are all given a new twist. In some ways the basic plot resembles older stories and serials, but every time you think you know how the story will unfold, it cleverly takes a different step, defying expectation at most turns. Such familiarity in the beginning and middle sections helps to emphasize how inventive and unexpected the ending really is. The Doctor's solution is exactly what he has been working towards for the entirety of the book, but the execution of this plan is quite interesting.
The tigers (though the story points out that they merely resemble Earth tigers, and are, in fact, an alien life-form) are characterized quite interestingly, slightly better than the individual humans are. Since we've seen hundreds of Earth colonies over the years, more time is spent building up the tiger society and so they get the lion's share of the attention. The regulars get quite a lot to do as well. Anji is really starting to come into her own as a companion. Here she's organized and resourceful, yet suspicious of the actions of other people. Without Fitz's experience, she's not quite sure where this Doctor fellow's loyalties really lie. It isn't overdone though, and it really helps to drive the action along. There is a great attention to detail present; every character's motivations are understandable and believable. No one acts merely for the sake of convenience.
The Year of Intelligent Tigers is a great book, giving the Doctor a lot to solve, Anji a lot to angst over, and Fitz a lot to be frightened of. As someone who isn't terribly familiar with a lot of classical music, I suspect that there were a few references that went over my head, but the musical flavour and tone of the story is maintained quite well. Extra mention should be made of the historical flashbacks to Doctor's one hundred year exile to Earth. These are two of the best portions of the book, and makes one wish that the Ormanblum entity had also written a book during that particular story arc. In any case, Tigers is one of the better EDAs and is a welcome addition to the current unfolding story.
A Review by Terrence Keenan 26/3/02
On the Island of Hitchemus, a music based colony is overrun by the native tiger population, which has given birth to its first real intelligent generation in years. The Doctor, while attempting to play a song that's been in his head for years, gets disgusted with the closed minded ways of the humans and decides to help the tigers.....
In one of the reviews for The Shadows of Avalon, a theory was brought forth that stated Paul Cornell wrote the greatest book in DW history, but had it destroyed by the line editor.
I bring this up, because I have a theory about YOIT: Kate Orman had written the absolute worst book in DW history, filled with bad hippie ideals, PC sloganeering, companion shagging, Doctor shagging, Doctor torture and millions of pointless references to the Virgin line, only to be saved by the current editor, Justin Richards. Truth be told, Richards probably made her rewrite YOIT until she shed herself of her usual crutches.
In any event, YOIT is equal parts Mac Hulke and Ursula K. LeGuinn, which is not necessarily a bad thing. Orman does wallow in the Loz Miles theorized Big Lie in her setup of the main human colony on Hitchemus, a self-sufficient music community. However, for once it makes sense for the story. In a way, it's Orman's biggest success; she's learned how to do what Miles has done so naturally in his DW novels.
The plot does meander around, like a slow building symphony -- a nice structural touch in a book that is as much about music, thematically, as it is about issues that Mac Hulke raised so well in The Silurians.
Character varies from well-done to incredibly annoying. The worst of the lot, to no surprise, is the Doctor. Equal parts spoiled brat and annoying hippie, he's very annoying until the climax of the novel, when he's finally given some dignity. The best of the lot is Longbody, the "villain" of the tigers who is much more than that. In fact the tigers come off much better than the humans, which comes off as a deliberate action by Orman. After the heinous characterization in Unnatural History, Fitz is done much better. Anji plays the role of the untrusting companion, a well-trod DW device, to the hilt, which is a shame, but in the long run better than having Orman turning her into OrmanBlum Sam. The lone human non regular one note is Karl, the conductor of the local orchestra, who has a weird attraction/repulsion vibe, similar to Turing in The Turing Test.
Like The Adventuress of Henrietta Street, the book has a long, slow buildup that does require some patience. Jonathan Blum adds two interludes, which in the best TV story tradition, contrasts with previous story continuity -- see the Caught on Earth arc -- but unfortunately, jar with the rest of the novel. The best section of the book is the Chapter nineteneleventwelve, where we see the same series of events unfold various points of view.
In the end, YOIT is by far the best book ever written by Kate Orman, although, in the grand scheme of 8DAs, is only average.
6 out of 10.
Semiconductor by Rob Matthews 11/9/02
In reviewing Kate Orman's Set Piece a while back, I commented that what really knocked me off my feet about the book was how close it came to being a 'proper' novel. As opposed, I guess, to a genre or niche novel. Admittedly it's difficult to say with any precision where this line is crossed - obviously, as a Doctor Who book, it's reliant on the lore of a cheesy old TV series and presupposes a certain knowledge of that series on the part of its audience. In most people's eyes the 'cheesy old TV series' connection alone would immediately disqualify it from any kind of 'serious' status.
To reconcile this, I'd argue that a kids TV series can provide the material for a great work of 'proper' fiction because probably the most powerful stories in our minds are the ones we knew and loved as children. Lawrence Miles is hip to this - he referred to Doctor Who as his 'native mythology'. Don't know if that's his own phrase, but it's a neat summation. I think there's only room in your head for a certain number of these myths, so that when - for example - I was forced to watch Lord of the Rings I sat there completely baffled at the appeal of all this elves-and-wizards nonsense, but when I watched Star Wars II I was practically standing on my seat and cheering when Yoda had a battle with Count Dooku - that is, when an elf had a fight with a wizard.
I think essentially the myths that you love are the ones that got into your brain first and took root there. Others just feel like slightly rearranged imitations of the ones that are yours, the ones that - subjectively speaking - are the originals. So Star Wars is just as much nonsense as Lord of the Rings, but the only way I can try to make myself get involved with the latter is to think, 'Ah, Bilbo is analogous to Luke Skywalker' or 'that knight bloke is analogous to Darth Vader'. And its still doesn't work. And when I see Star Trek what I'm basically thinking is 'Ah, Captain Kirk is analogous to the Doctor, except that he's part of the US establishment and completely uninteresting' (bwah-ha-ha!)*
* - itself a catchphrase from the Justice League comics of my adolescence...
Anyway, this is all a very long-winded way of saying that Miles is onto something with that 'native mythology' business, because he's the only other author apart from Orman who has successfully used the Who mythos to write books that are powerful in their own right - niche novels that are also proper novels, universal even though lacking a universal appeal. Hard thing to do, and I don't think even Paul Magrs has managed it.
I've read more of Miles than I have of Orman, and I know he's been pretty scathing about her later NAs and early BBC books. Still, it's clear from what I have read that, at her best, she's at least as good a writer as he is. In fact, though it's difficult and ultimately silly to rank these things, I'd say my two favourite Doctor Who books are Interference and Set Piece. And comparing the two, I'd say both subscribe, to greater or lesser degrees, to a postmodernist philosophy. Miles' in an obvious sense, Orman's less overtly. Set Piece is in spirit a modernist novel, but not 'purely' so because the sf/fantasy milieu precludes that - the mix of genres alone qualifying it as 'postmodern'.
In my opinion, modernism and postmodernism aren't really distinct or opposing forces. They exist more in a continuum, the former leading directly to the latter, and hence aren't properly separable. Modernism takes as its basis a recognition of our plurality - at root it's a democratic means of approaching experience. It acknowledges that no one belief system is superior to another, and subscribes to no overarching metanarrative, whether Christian or Imperialist or whatever.
Postmodernist thought is rooted in this same basic apprehension. But it's really just a way of adapting modernism to experience. In practise, modernism quickly becomes untenable because it always leads in the general direction of nihilistic nothingness. Everyone's beliefs and experiences are given equal validity, but in practice this makes them all equally void. Modernism's only option is to advocate stoicism in the face of nullity, to negotiate the void as best you can. And it's not an amoral void because there's still that principle of equality that got us there.
Anyhow, 'postmodernism' is the name we give to that process of negotiation. It's been characterised very much by the 'ironic' resurrection of narratives whose truth we no longer believe, because we're too cynical and incredulous. Theoretically we still don't take anything seriously deep down, but we're having more fun playing with the pieces than those miserable modernists were. We've tacitly agreed to live together in a benign void where all and nothing are the same thing.
That's the theory, anyway. In fact a premise of plurality must instantly undermine any claim that this theory can make to universality. It's a bit of a catch-22. Modernism and postmodernism are rooted in rationalism, and that itself isn't in fact something everyone subscribes to. My belief is that they should, but I'm just one person.
Anyway, finally finally bringing this round to Year of Intelligent Tigers, I believe that, whereas Miles' writing is resigned to contradiction and is thus overtly postmodern, Orman's is still actively struggling with a process of reconciliation.
This struggle was brought to my attention most sharply in the passage narrated by Besma Grieve on pages 106-107. It sharply encapsulates the modernist struggle in a way that's surprisingly blunt for a writer as usually lyrical as Orman, and for me acts as a sort of key to the book. This passage drew my attention towards the brilliance of her central conceit, that of the intelligent-unintelligent tigers who've spent generations alternately building advanced civilisations and lapsing back into instinctive and mindless animal behaviour, so that there's no lasting continuity in their society at all. This reflects the belief fundamental to post/modernism that history is discontinuous, not a beginning-middle-end process but a series of new beginnings with no real end. One generation, one era, may be civilised, but that does not preclude a return to savagery in later ones. Orman knew this in Set Piece too, the battles don't end, the injustice doesn't end, and a triumph today will not stop another tragedy tomorrow. It was knowing this and continuing to battle on anyway that made Ace a hero, and through her gave a glimpse of something that might just transcend the mess we've argued ourselves into.
Oh yeah... it's difficult to say exactly how much post/modernism is a result of discourse and language. Most of the above sounds desolate and depressing, but only because language carries its own implications and has 'programmed' us to think that everything has to lead somewhere (for the Christian metanarrative it was to heaven or hell, the happy or the sad ending). But the Doctor of Intelligent Tigers doesn't think in these terms - as he says of his failed Buddhism, 'I'm afraid I've never been able to get my head around the idea that being born again and again is something you should want to stop doing'; the exploration of countless potentialities is a lot more stimulating than the narrow quest for one thing. And indeed, that's what Doctor Who as a fiction represents for me, the exploration of countless potentialities within a moral framework we can all agree on.
Thus Orman's use of music as a central motif for her story is inspired, because music bypasses the intellect completely and appeals to something deeper, something possibly more honest, at any rate certainly more primal. It represents a powerful force whose impact cannot be degraded by mere argument. Also something happily directionless, 'not a concert but a jam session'. It represents, I suppose, that which cannot be pinned down by the brain. The Doctor represents that too. Orman's Doctor isn't a kids' TV hero used 'ironically' (and that in itself doesn't necessarily mean the same thing as 'sneeringly'), but a magical creature, in the magical realist sense - not accountable to rationalism or naturalism, instead appealing to the same contradictory mix of intellect and emotional response as magical realism itself.
It seems to me that the two most successful ways of portraying the Doctor are polar opposites - the detached blithe Doctor who wanders into hairy situations by accident, acts incongruously, casually sorts out the problem and then leaves, or the dedicated proactive Doctor who does everything with a purpose and is acting out of a strong sense that he must end every injustice he hears about. Orman manages to pull those two facets together here. He's a force-of-nature Doctor, literally. He's elemental. Elemental has been a defining word in the recent reconstruction of the Doctor - whether it's the post-Ancestor Cell Doctor of the BBC books (Adventuress of Henrietta Street), or the revitalised mystery figure of Kim Newman's Time and Relative.
The Doctor's certainly a bigger figure here than he is in a good deal of Who fiction - as big as he was in Set Piece, in Human Nature, and as he would be in Adventuress. He's postmodernist, but not negative-postmodernist, not sitting in Baudrillard's anorexic ruins. He personifies that gap between abstract, intellectual argument and the world of experience and emotion - between knowing that we're 'dupes of our DNA', as Besma puts it, and actually loving life. The missing link between desolation and ecstasy, if you like. Once you learn to go with the flow without needing it to get you somewhere, 'meaningless' becomes, perhaps, a liberating word. But only perhaps. Like I said, this book is struggling with a contradiction and doesn't reach an answer. Well, if books held all the answers we wouldn't need new books. Modernist fiction is characterised by its lack of answers, its shocking frustration of Realist (another misnomer) principles. But, as Orman wisely notes, intelligent creatures do love a puzzle. Unlike Larry Miles she's an optimist-postmodernist.
So with all this at its core, Year of... is a very strong and powerful book. Actually, with all this clunking terminology I've probably obscured the beauty of Orman's graceful prose. I should point out that obviously if it wasn't superbly written, I wouldn't have analysed my reaction to it this much. Orman has a beautiful gift for unforced metaphor and flexible motif. All that's needed to seal the deal is strong all-round characterisation, and she makes that look like a cakewalk. The regulars are strong as you like, with Anji rightly suspicious of and occasionally horrified by the Doctor's actions, and Fitz touchingly faithful to the Doctor, never wavering in his belief that his friend must be acting for the best. And, of course, being funny too, often in a charming accidental way ('Doctor! What are you doing out in space?'). Longbody, meanwhile, is an effectively nasty piece of work, and not entirely unsympathetic. She's intelligent enough to not be enslaved to her tooth-and-claw instincts, so it's repellent that she chooses to follow them, and chooses also not to learn, not to be deliberately intelligent unless it's in the service of her bloodlust. She's believable, sadly probably more so than Big,
Karl comes across like the book's aching heart, seemingly a character onto whom Orman can project a dirty great crush (the words 'Mrs Kate Orman Blum McGann' are scrawled a bit heavily in this book's margins). He's as gracefully written as you'd expect - rather reminiscent of a Thomas Mann character, even down to his Germanic name - but his unrequited love for the Doctor seems overemphasised in the latter part of the book, tipping things slightly too heavily in the direction of doomed romance...
...a dead romance. Perhaps Orman wants it that way, though. Perhaps this is her rebuke to Miles. Maybe she's asking if a Big Lie that enables us to live happily is better than a Bleak Truth that makes us unhappy but at least gives us the satisfaction of being honest?
Terrence Keenan called this the best novel ever written by Kate Orman, but he hadn't read Set Piece then. It's not up there with that opus, but it's a superior novel. Not Great, but great.
A Review by Craig Lambert 1/4/08
I strongly disliked The Year of Intelligent Tigers. It was soooo boring! And it was terribly written! Most of the time, I didn't know what was going on. Orman's writing left much to be desired. Was it intentionally written to create a feeling that I was tripping? The scenes with the Doctor in the Bewilderness were bewildering! What was that all about? Was this from the perspective of the Doctor on peyote or mushrooms? Is this the Doctor going on a native vision quest? I couldn't stand it!
How completely boring was this story! The plot was boring. Things did not move along. Fitz was boring. Anji was boring, except for the topless moment in her flat. What was her motivation for doing all her crazy stuff? I didn't get it. Nothing she was doing really made any sense. Orman never really explained why Anji did all the wacky deeds she did.
Speaking of wacky, what is up with this Karl character? If you are going to include a gay character attracted to the Doctor, why not come out of the closet and be plain about it? Stepping around the issue with veiled hints about how attracted Karl was to the Eighth Doctor was one of the stupidest, most insulting things I've ever read! And the Karl character was so spineless and wimpy! He's not the least bit likable. Nor was his character ever really developed in any significant way. He starts out as a jerk, and ends up as a jerk.
Dr. Besma Grieve has got to be one of the least-developed, 2D characters in any book. Why was she even here except as tiger fodder? Give me a break. When she died, the Doctor didn't shed a tear, and neither did I because Orman never gave me a reason to care about her.
I hope my next Doctor Who book reflects a Year of Intelligent Writing. Why, oh why, does this have 4.5 stars on Amazon? As for the Doctor himself, he was the only thing mildly engaging in this book. But the poor writing had me swimming in uncertainty and clouds of confusion no matter what character I was reading about. The ending was pitifully and painfully unsatisfying. The Doctor is lounging in the grass and letting the stupid tigers and people sort out their problems. It's as cheesy as taking them out for team building on a ropes course. The humans were stupid in this story, and not believable. The tigers were stupid and boring. The more I read of this book, the more tired I became of tigers. How is that possible? Of all of Earth's majestic, fearsome creatures, Orman can even make tigers boring. What a drag.