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Book Review: ‘The Eaters of Light’ by Rona Munro a Doctor Who story

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Bill and the Doctor have a debate to settle in The Eaters of Light by Rona Munro. What happened to the “lost” Ninth Legion of the Roman Army? Stationed in Britain in the second century A.D., the Ninth Legion suddenly disappeared without a trace. To this day, no one knows what happened to them. But of course, the Doctor knows, or so he says. However, his companion Bill has been obsessed with the Ninth Legion since she was a child, and she disagrees with the Doctor. So they head back to learn the fate of the Ninth Legion. Considering this is a Doctor Who adventure, any guess on what happened? Aliens perhaps? 

[Warning: My review of The Eaters of Light contains some spoilers!]

An unstoppable force in Rona Munro’s 12th Doctor novel

Based on a Doctor Who story that originally aired on June 17th, 2017, The Eaters of Light takes us to second-century Britain to see a battle between the Romans and the Picts. The Doctor believes that the Picts defeated the Romans, every single one of them. But Bill says that’s impossible. The Romans were too good to be defeated like that. It turns out they were both wrong. Because the unstoppable force of the Romans ran into another unstoppable force, and it wasn’t the Picts. It was an interdimensional being known as the eater of light.

The Picts had been guarding a gate that was a portal to the beings’ world for uncountable generations. When the Romans slaughtered the Picts, the last guardian, Kar, decided to let the being out to enact revenge on the Romans. Unfortunately for her, the Beast didn’t stop with the Romans. It moved on to other animals, and soon, the sun will be on the menu! Now, it’s up to the Doctor to save the world before the Beast can be joined by more of its kind and destroy the world and the entire universe.

A different view of the Roman army in Doctor Who

The Eaters of Light offers a very different view of the Roman army. First, Munro makes the Roman army sound like a gang with sign-up booths on every street corner, pushing the benefits of joining (Money! Women! Respect!). At the same time, the reality was boys came together within the army to create small families. Then there’s the acceptance and even encouragement of homosexuality within the army. Munro talks about both causal sexual relationships between the soldiers and the more enduring love that the army encouraged because the pairs made excellent fighting duos. 

Doctor Who Eaters of Light Rona Munro

All of this is quite acknowledged within the academic world. People who study ancient cultures know that homosexual relationships have been documented and were even common across time and culture; it’s just that in society nowadays, we aren’t generally aware of these facts, and the media tends to ignore or hide relationships like these. So, I was pleasantly surprised to have the main Roman character involved in such a relationship. Indeed, his love for a fellow soldier drives most of his decisions and ultimately helps him become a hero.

An enjoyable possibility in The Eaters of Light

The fun thing about this Doctor Who adventure is that people have been wondering what happened to the famed lost Ninth Legion for almost two centuries. While some theories are better than others, there still isn’t a definitive answer to where those soldiers went. This means that, while admittedly highly unlikely, Doctor Who’s explanation of interdimensional beings is still ultimately possible. 

I also love how The Eaters of Light used cairns. Cairns are scattered all over Great Britain and Scotland. While some are used as burial mounds, many have lost their purposes to time. However, a tradition stands that the Pict people saw them as gateways to other places. Doctor Who takes this to a new level by having the cairn lead to a different dimension. Elevating the practices of the Picts from superstitions to true knowledge, The Eaters of Light recognizes that ancient people had a lot of knowledge lost over the years. Just because we’re more “advanced” now doesn’t mean we know everything, even Doctor Who doesn’t know everything.

Eaters of Light a fun read for history buffs and Doctor Who fans

Doctor Who fans will enjoy The Eaters of Light. It’s based on a great episode featuring the twelfth doctor, played by Peter Capaldi. But the nice thing is that if you aren’t a Doctor Who fan but like historical fantasy, this will appeal to you, too. And you don’t need any background in Doctor Who to understand the story, which is a great bonus. Alternate versions of history are always fun to explore, and that’s precisely what we get in The Eaters of Light. So, if that sounds interesting, check out Rona Munro’s The Eaters of Light. 

    Rating: 7/10

Doctor Who: The Eaters of Light by Rona Munro is available now! Let us know on social media @mycosmiccircus or in The Cosmic Circus Discord if you have read this book or plan to add it to your TBR list!

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Luna Gauthier

I've always been a bookworm and fantasy is my favortie genre. I never imagined (okay, I imagined but I didn't think) that I could get those books sent to me for just my opinion. Now I am a very happy bookworm! @Lunagauthier19 on Twitter

Luna Gauthier has 228 posts and counting. See all posts by Luna Gauthier