Feliks, an acquaintance of the Doctor's, is killed in an accident. He leaves the Doctor a coded message. With difficulty, the Doctor decodes the message and finds himself caught up in the middle of a dangerous, world-threatening conflict.
This novel reads like an action spy thriller, with the Doctor amazing everyone with his fighting prowess, his 'vulcan' neck pinch and his short hair.
It also see the return of 'The Players' from their self-titled book also by Dicks. If you're not familiar with these characters, escpecially the motivation for the Countess, you will feel very underwhelmed towards the end of the novel. Actually, I knew about them and was still underwhelmed. I'm thinking this might mean another excursion into the 'Players' at a later date.
A distracting point in the novel, comes around page 177 where it seems the editing crew must have been sleeping as one of the main villian's name keeps alternating from Myrek to Marek. A small mistake but it does break the flow of the story.
I recommend this book, but only for a different kind of Doctor Who story which would have been better off without the 'Players' involved.
The opening section of the book is rather interesting. We see a depressed Doctor who's starting to crack up at the prospect of a never-ending exile on a planet that is not his own. The sequences from the Doctor's point-of-view are well written and are excellent at conveying the hopelessness of a confused, amnesiac Time Lord who's almost suicidal at the prospect of being trapped in a linear existence for the rest of his unnaturally long life. The only parts I was confused about were the frequent mentions made by other characters as to the fact that the Doctor has no past. Although he arrived at the end of the 19th Century Earth with no money, no family and no memory of any previous life, he's been around for over fifty years now. Fifty years is quite a long time in human-terms and certainly long enough for anyone to build up a long trail of traceable events (even if one has lead a completely boring life), yet people are acting as if he's just appeared out of nowhere last week. It's possible that he keeps moving from place to place without any records (though it's mentioned that he's been living in the same flat for almost a decade) but if so, it was not properly addressed.
The beginning sections of the plot are fairly interesting.Read more ›
As a Doctor Who novel, it seems forced. The Doctor seems to have been included simply perforce because Terrance Dicks is supposed to be a Doctor Who novelist. He has plenty of opportunity for globetrotting -- in the course of the novel, he makes it to France, the United States (where he meets President Truman), and Russia (where he rescues Joseph Stalin from evil influence).
The problem is, this could just as easily be any schlameel who happened to be in the wrong place at the wrong time and got blackmailed into involvement in the Cold War. Apart from his usual acumen, there's no reason the character should be the Doctor. His inclusion seems like a market-oriented contrivance that neither contributes to, nor detracts from, the novel.
The short version is, this is a good spy novel. The historical elements of the Cold War are very well done and the book is fun to read. However, it feels like it's only a Doctor Who novel because the author was under contract. It offers nothing new to the Doctor Who mythos. It detracts nothing either, so there's no reason it shouldn't be read; but there's no real reason for the character in it to be the Doctor.