Book Review – Doctor Who: The Spear of Destiny

  • Title: The Spear of Destiny
  • Series: Doctor Who Novelette Collection
  • Author: Marcus Sedgwick
  • Characters: Third Doctor, Jo Grant
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 06/17/2016

Doctor Who – The Spear of Destiny is another book in the 50th Anniversary collection of mini-books, one for each Doctor. This one features the Third Doctor, as played by Jon Pertwee, and his companion Jo Grant, as played by Katy Manning. The story opens with The Doctor taking Jo to a museum. But it turns out he is basically “casing the joint” so to speak. As he explains to Jo, he needs to steal a spear on display because it is a Physical Temporal Nexus (PTN), a very dangerous and rare artifact that the Time Lords want for safe-keeping.

That night the Doctor and Jo take the TARDIS to the museum, but land on the roof instead of inside the exhibit. When they go to take the Spear, the Doctor trips an alarm and they are chased out by men with machine guns from the Moxon Collection (the entity that lent the collection to the museum). The Doctor finds this to be highly unusual.

However, he knows one other time and place where the spear will be – so he takes Jo to ancient Norway, explaining the Spear is the Spear of Destiny – Odin’s spear that never missed it’s target. He explains that Odin was the King of Sweden and not a mysterious god. He also theorizes to Jo that the Spear was also known as the Spear of Destiny – the same spear a Roman soldier thrust into Christ’s side at the crucifixion.

In ancient Norway, the Doctor and Jo discover The Master is behind everything. Yet the Doctor still manages to be successful.

This story was a bit disappointing compared to the other two I’ve read so far. It wasn’t bad – just somewhat predictable without enough twists and turns in the plot. There was some very atmospheric writing for the section that takes place in Winter in Ancient Norway, which I liked.

And again, not awful, but not as good as the previous two. I like the Third Doctor and really like Jo, but I also like the boys from UNIT, including the Brigadier (who makes a brief appearance) and this could have used have Benton or Yates appear as well. Still, it’s worth reading the entire set.

Book Review – Doctor Who: The 12 Doctors of Christmas

  • Title: The Twelve Doctors of Christmas
  • Series: BBC Books – Special Themed Short Story Collection
  • Author: Various
  • Note: Includes paintings for each story
  • Characters: One story per Doctor, with companions
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 12/22/2016

The Twelve Doctors of Christmas is a wonderful, wonderful book. Everything about this book is just awesome and it would make for a great Christmas gift for Doctor Who fans young and old. The presentation of this book is impressive – it’s a cloth-bound hard cover with incredible full-color art paintings – one per story. There is one short story per Doctor and one painting per story. The paintings are bound in groups, though, rather than as front pieces for each story, so you read four stories then get four pages of gorgeous art. Still, the full-color paintings are beautiful and aptly illustrate each story.

There are twelve short stories in the collection – one per Doctor, and the stories also feature many of the Doctor’s well-known companions. Each story also has a theme of Christmas – but it’s interpreted by the various authors in a broad way, so we get stories that range from Barbara and Ian “going home for the holidays” to the Seventh Doctor and Ace trying to rescue a crashed alien from Macy’s at Christmas (after hours) and trying to also save the few workers in the store. All the stories are inventive and approach the Holiday differently. It’s a wonderful collection.

This was an uplifting and fun read – and I could see myself re-reading it every year. It’s a beautiful presentation as a book, a great gift, and an enjoyable read. I simply loved it – and it was good to read at this time of year.

Stories, Doctor, Companion(s), Authors

  • All I Want for Christmas (First Doctor, Barbara, Ian) – Jacqueline Rayner
  • A Comedy of Terrors (Second Doctor, Jamie, Zoë) – Colin Brake
  • The Christmas Inversion (Third Doctor, Jo Grant, UNIT) – Jacqueline Rayner
  • Three Wise Men (Fourth Doctor) – Richard Dungworth
  • Sontar’s Little Helpers (Fifth Doctor, Tegan, Turlough) – Mike Tucker
  • Fairy Tale of New New York (Sixth Doctor, Mel) – Gary Russell
  • The Grotto (Seventh Doctor, Ace) – Mike Tucker
  • Ghost of Christmas Past (Eighth Doctor) – Scott Handcock
  • The Red Bicycle (Ninth Doctor, Rose) – Gary Russell
  • Loose Wire (Tenth Doctor) – Richard Dungworth
  • The Gift (Eleventh Doctor) – Scott Handcock
  • The Persistence of Memory (Twelfth Doctor) – Colin Brake

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Harvest of Time

  • Title: The Harvest of Time
  • Series: Doctor Who – Unknown
  • Author: Alastair Reynolds
  • Characters: Third Doctor, Jo, UNIT
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 8/23/2016

Harvest of Time is an original Doctor Who novel featuring the Third Doctor as played by Jon Pertwee and his companion Jo Grant. The UNIT boys – Brigadier Lethbridge-Stewart, Captain Mike Yates, Sgt. Benton, and the Master also are involved in the story. Like many of the Third Doctor Era aired stories, this novel starts a bit slow – but it builds and builds to an awesome conclusion. The story also has a relevant message for today. The plot is a bit convoluted – but comes together in the last third of the book, and uses time travel in a plot that is both novel and that makes a certain logical sense.

The opening sequence is probably the most “separate” part of the novel, though it begins to make sense eventually. Then the Doctor and Jo are called, with UNIT, to investigate an anomaly at an off shore oil rig. When they arrive they are summarily dismissed. Yet, on the nearby shore something odd is going on. Before long, UNIT is engaged in combating one of the weirdest invasions ever – caterpillars in ambulators. However, far from being cute – early encounters in which the caterpillars take over the neural systems of human hosts – and the fact that the Doctor recognizes them immediately as the Sild a creature so terrifying they were destroyed by the Time Lords, makes them scary rather than cute. Even the Master shudders when the Doctor tells him that the Sild are invading. Besides their ability to take over humans, animals, or anyone else – the Sild conquer by sheer force of numbers. Meanwhile, on the oil rig, the daughter of an oil magnate has realizes she needs UNIT’s help, only to be stopped by government/corporate hacks in league with… you guessed it – The Master.

The Master is also the subject of “Time Fade” – slowly being forgotten by everyone, even UNIT. The Doctor, and the Master, discover why and engage in some fascinating bits of time travel and re-arranging to prevent and reverse the damage of the time-fade.

As always with a Jon Pertwee story, things do eventually work out, despite a somewhat high body count (this novel even manages to keep the “we can only have so many people on camera” feel of the Pertwee stories – telling us about various disasters while showing a few in detail.)

Overall, it’s a unique SF and time travel story, the monster is very unique, I really liked the end, and the story has an interesting message. Definitely something to pick-up and add to your Doctor Who collection.

Book Review – Doctor Who: Speed of Flight

  • Title: Speed of Flight
  • Series: Virgin Publishing Missing Doctor Adventures
  • Author: Paul Leonard
  • Characters:  Third Doctor, Jo Grant, Capt. Mike Yates
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 5/12/2014

Speed of Flight is a Third Doctor adventure featuring Jo Grant and Mike Yates, from Virgin Publishing’s Doctor Who The Missing Adventures. This novel started really slow, too much time was spent introducing the planet where the TARDIS will first arrive. So much so that I found myself just waiting for the Doctor to arrive.

When we first see Jo Grant, though, she isn’t with the Doctor and she isn’t in the TARDIS – she’s on her way to a blind date – only to discover she’s been set up with Mike Yates. The two laugh about their date, only to be called back to UNIT.

There, the Doctor offers Mike a trip in the TARDIS with Jo. He promises the two a wonderful adventure, someplace romantic, but they end up on the planet described in the first few chapters.

Things don’t go well on the planet at all – the TARDIS lands on a platform in a tree, and Mike takes a tumble off the edge. Fortunately, the planet has extremely low gravity – however, while the Doctor goes to rescue Mike – Jo, naturally, doesn’t obey instructions to “stay in the TARDIS” and before long everyone is separated.

The planet is very strange – and trying to piece together what’s going on takes a bit. There are three life-forms, who, at first, seem to be separate races: The Dead, Men, The Naieen, and one introduced at the end. Needless to say what’s actually going on is quite complicated.

And, I must say, once things started to be explained – the world and it’s people fit together nicely, and it was a pretty unique society.

There is a fair amount of violence in the book as well.

Overall, though I found Speed of Flight incredibly slow going, it was a pretty good Doctor Who story, and fans will enjoy it.

Note: I somehow missed this one when uploading reviews so it’s slightly out of order.

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Ghosts of N-Space

  • Title: The Ghosts of N-Space
  • Series: Virgin Publishing Missing Doctor Adventures
  • Author: Barry Letts
  • Characters:  Third Doctor, Sarah Jane Smith, The Brigadier
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 7/03/2014

The Ghosts of N-Space is part of The Missing Adventures series of original Doctor Who stories. It is also a novelization of a radio play that aired on BBC Radio 2 in 1995, starring Jon Pertwee, Elisabeth Sladen, and Nicholas Courtney. And it was a wonderfully fun book to read.

I enjoyed this story immensely – it felt like an episode of the series, and was simply enjoyable to read.
Sarah Jane has decided to try her hand at writing a novel, but has developed a severe case of writer’s block. Her friend, Jeremy, has, meanwhile gotten tickets for a trip to Italy and suddenly has no one to take with him. He approaches Sarah, and soon the two are off.

Meanwhile, the Brigadier has discovered he’s the last surviving relative of an Italian Lord of the Manor, or in this case, castello – as well as the tiny Island it sits on.

Sarah Jane, the Brigadier, and Jeremy run into each other and begin investigating the ghosts of the Castello. The Brigadier calls in the Doctor (Jon Pertwee, the Third Doctor).

And the romp is on — a haunted castle, mobsters, long-lost relatives, alternate dimensions, fiends from hell, and the possible end of the world. It’s actually all good fun and feels very much like vintage Doctor Who. And I sped through this book.

I don’t want to spoil any more of the plot. It’s just a fun read. It’s closer in feel to the BBC Past Doctor Adventures line of original novels, than most of the Missing Adventures and I think that’s why I enjoyed it so much. Recommended, especially for fans of Classic Doctor Who.

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Scales of Injustice

  • Title: The Scales of Injustice
  • Series: Virgin Publishing Missing Doctor Adventures
  • Author: Gary Russell
  • Characters:  Third Doctor, Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Liz), UNIT
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 7/21/2014

This original Doctor Who novel features the Third Doctor (as played by Jon Pertwee) and Dr. Elizabeth (Liz) Shaw and the Silurians again. References abound not only to “Doctor Who and the Silurians”, but also “The Sea Devils” and “Warriors of the Deep”. And, as always, meetings between apes and “Earth Reptiles” do not go well.

Also the plot involves political intrigue between Parliament, the Glasshouse (the UNIT hospice), and C19. Someone wants to discredit the current head of the Glasshouse and take it over, turning it into another Vault making weapons from alien technology and in some cases from aliens themselves.

Dr. Liz Shaw finds herself embroiled in these plots when she’s contacted by a Dutch investigative reporter, who, unfortunately, turns out to be a C19 agent. Meanwhile, the Doctor is running around chasing Silurians, hoping for a better result than the last time.

The Silurian plot seems very repetitive, but it turns out slightly better than normal for most stories involving the intelligent previous intelligent species from Earth. The other main purpose of the novel is to give Dr. Liz Shaw a better send off. I enjoyed that part of the book. Actually, this book seems to be more of a book about Liz than about the Doctor – who does very little, and is mostly ineffective. Not that the book reverses the standard Doctor and Companion roles entirely – Dr. Shaw doesn’t come off as a Super Woman, but it’s a different take on an original novel.

I have the e-book version, and the cover looks like one of the Target novelisations. It was also very short, only 191 pages in e-book format. I don’t know if I read a condensed or abbreviated version, or what, but I think if it had been a bit longer, the story could have been expanded a bit, resulting in a better story. This was more like a novella.

Update: This story has been re-published in paperback as part of the 50th Anniversary Celebrations of Doctor Who. I have the reprint but have not re-read that version to see if it’s longer and/or more complex than the e-book.

Book Review – Doctor Who: The Eye of the Giant

  • Title: The Eye of the Giant
  • Series: Virgin Publishing Missing Doctor Adventures
  • Author: Christopher Bulis
  • Characters:  Third Doctor, Dr. Elizabeth Shaw (Liz), UNIT
  • Date Reviewed on GoodReads: 12/28/2013

NOTE: Spoilers

The Eye of the Giant moves like a freight train. It’s a fast-moving adventure story.

The Eye of the Giant is part of Virgin Publishing’s Doctor Who Missing Adventures original paperback novel series. I read the e-book version. The story features the Third Doctor (Jon Pertwee), and Doctor Elizabeth Shaw (Liz), and UNIT, including Brigadier Alistair Gordon Lethbridge-Stewart, Sgt. Mike Yates, and Sgt. Benton. The novel begins with Liz and the Doctor working on the TARDIS council. They are interrupted by the Brigadier, who delivers a strange artifact found inside a shark in waters off New Zealand and Australia. Liz and the Doctor investigate, soon launching a time bridge to 40 years in the past.

Meanwhile, 40 years ago, a millionaire’s yacht heads for the mysterious island of Saltuna. Aboard the ship are the millionaire founder of Paragon Studios, Marshal Grover, his second wife, Nancy Norton (an actress), his daughter, Amelia, from his first marriage, Paragon’s leading man, Montgomery, Paragon’s leading director, and his cameraman, and Professor Steinberg – whom Grover’s promised a chance to investigate and make discoveries on the island, and their servants, as well as the ship’s rather large crew. The ship is heading for the island, when they are hit by a mysterious something. They manage to make it to shore, but the ship is damaged and will take days to repair.

Steinberg is excited about this since he will be able to investigate the island. He hopes to make enough discoveries to regain his status in the medical and scientific community after one of his previous experiments killed a patient.

The director, cameraman, and leading man are also excited about filming Nancy’s new film on the mysterious and exotic island. However, Nancy, who shows herself to be a spoiled brat, isn’t excited. She wants nothing to do with filming on the island, and urges her husband to leave as soon as possible.

Nancy is right in a strange way: the Island is occupied by strange, giant, creatures. A huge, giant snake attacks Nancy, but she is quickly rescued. Soon giant crabs come out of the water and fight some giant bats. Other members of the ship’s crew find giant ants.

Meanwhile, the Doctor and Liz travel through the time bridge, hoping to find the origin of the mysterious artifact they are investigating at UNIT HQ. They arrive very near a volcano on the island, escape, then encounter the group from Paragon Studios. Sgt. Mike Yates also soon follows them. In trying to find the Doctor and Liz, he meets and rescues Amelia.

Before long, it becomes apparent that a UFO had crashed on the island several years ago, the pilot had been carrying stolen medical supplies. One of the ampules had broken, causing the giantism on the island. The pilot, however, had fallen down a hole, and the environmental controls of his suit had failed. Years later, Amelia Grover falls down the same hole, Mike Yates rescues her and they find what they think is a native statue. Later in the book, the alien is re-animated. However, he’s not your typical evil Doctor Who alien, like the Daleks or Cybermen. Rather he’s an old-fashioned thief who simply wants to repair his ship, get off the island and planet, and to sell what he stole.

Eventually, the Doctor helps accomplish this, as well as getting the yacht off the island, with her remaining passengers and crew. The aliens from whom the first alien had stolen the medical supplies, shoot down the ship, and the ship’s power core lands in the volcano, causing the eruption that history records happened and destroyed the island. Liz, the Doctor, Mike, and the Brigadier and his rescue party all return to HQ.

The novel could have ended there – it really should have. But when everyone returns to the present, they find a strangely altered Earth, where Nancy Norton is leader of the world, and her cult of personality has her treated as a goddess. Returning to the past, the Doctor, Liz, Mike, and Benton, must prevent or change Nancy’s fusion with the alien. They do but at a high cost of additional lives lost on the ship, including Nancy’s and Amelia’s. However, the timeline returns to normal, and the Doctor and company return to their UNIT HQ.

This was a quick and enjoyable read. However, it should have stopped when well enough ahead. I didn’t care for the last 80 pages, and I thought Nancy’s Cult of Personality wildly improbable. The method of fixing the problem was, of course, even more depressing. Still the book is a fun romp, and a quick read. I enjoyed it.