Book Review – Doctor Who: The Shadow of Weng-Chiang

  • Title: The Shadow of Weng-Chiang
  • Series: Virgin Publishing Missing Doctor Adventures
  • Author: David A. McIntee
  • Characters:  Fourth Doctor, Romana I
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 4/17/2015

The Shadow of Weng-Chiang is one of the Doctor Who Missing Adventures original novels published by Virgin publishing. It is also a sequel to the Tom Baker and Leela story, The Talons of Weng-Chiang. This original novel features Tom Baker’s Fourth Doctor and the First Romana (as played by Mary Tamm).

After the last Doctor Who novel that I read (Managra) and found truly, truly dreadful – I was very happy that The Shadow of Weng-Chiang was much, much better. It was an excellent story on it’s own, and even manages to fix some of the issues with the original story produced by the BBC.

The novel starts with the Doctor and Romana in the TARDIS, having discovered the third segment of the Key to Time, they are ready to find the Fourth Segment. They are surprised when the TARDIS again lands on Earth, this time Shanghai, in China, in the 1930s. Romana uses the tracer to find the Fourth Segment, but the signal is weak and even disappears at times. She and the Doctor are confused, and the Doctor thinks it unlikely that the Guardians would have hidden two segments on the same planet.

Soon the Doctor and Romana figure out that the tracer is actually picking up Chronon Radiation. The Doctor and Romana investigate. A woman named Hsien-Ko has risen to leadership of the Black Scorpion Tong on the promise to bring back the “god” Weng-Chiang. Meanwhile, a cop named Li keeps arresting the Doctor and Romana, and, a club owner named Woo is also involved in what’s going on.

Hsien-Ko was affected by Chronon Radiation from birth and can travel, unaided, via the Dragon Paths – shortcuts through space. She creates Geomantic compasses so her followers can also travel instantly between long distances. But her ambition is to also travel through time. To this end, she has a nuclear reactor built inside a mountain that also has naturally occurring quartz running throughout it. The reactor and quartz will be used to magnify power so she can obtain time travel. Her plan isn’t as far fetched as it sounds in summary, given the Time Cabinet of Weng-Chiang.

Everyone assumes they know Hsien-Ko’s plan – to return the “god” Weng-Chiang. But her actual ambitions are more complicated, more understandable, and much more dangerous. Li and Woo also have deep secrets and hidden motivations.

The story is a quick read, but the characters are deeply complex, especially as no one’s motives are what everyone else assumes they are. The characters reach past stereotypes, especially those that other characters in the book hold about them. This was something I really liked about the novel – though everyone’s true motives aren’t clear until the last few chapters of the book. I also found The Shadow of Weng-Chiang to be a very fast read and I enjoyed it very much!

This Doctor Who novel is highly recommended to fans of the program and also to fans of historical fiction.

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