Book Review – Doctor Who: Timewyrm: Exodus

  • Title: Timewyrm: Exodus
  • Series: Virgin Publishing New Doctor Who Adventures
  • Author: Terrance Dicks
  • Characters: Seventh Doctor, Ace
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 10/28/2017

**Spoiler Alert** Virgin Publishing’s The New Adventures follow on immediately after Doctor Who was put on hiatus, and feature the Seventh Doctor as portrayed by Sylvester McCoy, and in this story his companion Ace. Timewyrm: Exodus is the second volume in the four-volume Timewyrm series. Timewyrm: Exodus opens with the TARDIS landing in London in 1951, but upon leaving the TARDIS the Doctor and Ace realize something is very, very wrong. They’ve landed in an UK where the Nazis won World War II. It’s a bleak, war-torn, depressed London, with no freedom. The Doctor and Ace stay just long enough to try and figure out where history went wrong, discovering that the Miracle of Dunkirk never happened, the German airstrikes on civilian British cities destroyed those cities (London and others in the Industrial North), and the Lightening War included a quick strike at England that the British were unable to combat.

Following some complications, the Doctor and Ace are able to return to the TARDIS and head back in time to correct the aberration.

The TARDIS lands in Munich where Hitler’s led a completely unsuccessful attack by the Nazis. As the defeated Hitler runs away, he remarks that he considers suicide an answer. The Doctor aids Hitler in his escape and talks him out of it. Ace is flabbergasted. But the Doctor insists that history must follow it’s course and if it doesn’t it could lead to the disaster they just left.

The next section makes up the bulk of the novel, as the Doctor and Ace arrive in Nazi Germany, just before the Germans invade Poland. Hitler welcomes the Doctor with open arms as the man who saved him in Munich. Ace is appalled by everything – the “No Jews” signs in parks; the atmosphere of fear on the streets, the Nazi-controlled newspapers that report that Poland is rattling the sabre at Germany and threatening the Germans (the exact opposite of the truth) and the other daily horrors of life under a racist dictatorship.

The Doctor and Ace attend a Nazi Rally in Nuremberg, and as Hitler finishes speaking the Doctor asks Ace what she just heard. Ace can only report vague thoughts: blame on everyone else, the idea to make Germany Great Again, etc. But mostly Ace only experienced emotions. The Doctor tells her that her emotions were played like a violin, manipulated, that it was a form of psycho-conditioning, and something that shouldn’t even exist yet. He suspects something alien is aiding Hitler. After the rally, the two are caught, Hitler welcomes the Doctor, and the Doctor meets with him alone. Hitler has a fit – a storm of psychic activity. Items fly off walls, swirl around the room, crash on the floor. The Doctor sees the Timewyrm in Hitler. Then Hitler collapses. Only Hitler’s private secretary (by instinct) and the Doctor (by knowledge and by his own telepathic abilities) can calm Hitler’s fits. The Doctor obtains a medical history.

But there are also rumors of the Black Coven, a secret SS group that is helping Hitler and the Nazis to gain power and control. An invitation is sent to the Doctor, but Ace receives it, and as she’s bored (she keeps getting left behind in hotel rooms with nothing to do) she goes to investigate. She’s captured, and a threatening message is left for the Doctor. Ace is taken to Drachenberg Castle, a secret SS stronghold and home to the Black Coven. In due course, the Doctor follows to rescue Ace.

At Drachenberg Castle, the Doctor and Ace discover the War Lords and the War Chief are out to manipulate time. These are characters from the aired Doctor Who episode, “The War Games”, and I must admit it was fascinating to read a story that bought them back, though their plans were horrifying (bringing about a Nazi Earth, then a Nazi Galaxy, and an Nazi universe – horrifying). Among other things, the War Lords have set up a nuclear reactor in the basement of the castle, have used conditioning on SS stormtroopers to not only make them totally loyal but to make them unafraid of death, and have found a way to bring dead soldiers back to life as zombies. The War Lords remark that it’s easy to finish conditioning the solders because they were half there already. Ace and the Doctor discover what’s going on. The SS plan to sacrifice Ace in a occult ceremony to the Teutonic gods (mostly to appease the superstitious Nazis). During the ceremony, the Doctor frees Ace and uses one of her Nitro-9 capsules he’d confiscated earlier to bring down the roof – and killing most of the War Lords and their SS hoards. The Doctor had also called in the “cavalry” so to speak, and the German regular army attack the castle and SS, and Hitler arrives in a plane. The Doctor explains he uncovered a plot to overthrow Hitler himself and replace him with someone more reliable. But the SS zombies attack. In the end, the Doctor overloads the reactor, and he and Ace escape in the TARDIS.

But the Doctor realizes he’s made one mistake – he taught Hitler how to control the Timewyrm trapped within him. He and Ace take the TARDIS to Felsennest, where the Doctor goads the Timewyrm to leave Hitler and be dispersed. The Doctor also gives Hitler a lot of bad military advice, which assures that World War II will follow it’s historical path – Dunkirk, the failure of bombing the UK, Germany’s attack on Russia, etc.

Back in the TARDIS, the Doctor is extremely depressed. He can only think of all the death the six-year war will bring. He feels guilty and responsible. And he’s not even sure if history is on the correct path. Ace talks him into returning to 1951 London. They do and it’s the London they know. They attend a fun fair festival.

Although it was very hard reading a novel set for the most part in Nazi Germany, this was a good story. I can’t say I enjoyed it because who enjoys reading about Nazis slaughtering people because they are different or simply for kicks? But the story did flow well, and wasn’t predictable. I was not expecting the War Lords and War Chief to show-up, even though in the story the Doctor tells Ace they are dealing with multiple forms of manipulation of the time lines. The Timewyrm really isn’t in the story that much, much to my surprise. She’s basically trapped – and in the end, the Doctor must free her. No doubt she will be back as there are two more books in the mini-series.

Terrance Dicks does treat Ace terribly though – he keeps having her faint. This is completely out of character for Ace – this is the woman who attacked a Dalek with a baseball bat after all. But every time he wants to get Ace out of the way – Dicks has her faint. It’s pretty sexist writing. But aside from that, I can honestly recommend the book.

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