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Doctor Who: Asylum [Mass Market Paperback]

Peter Darvill-Evans
2.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 May 2001 Doctor Who
Oxford, 1278 -- the Doctor is keen to put a stop to the pioneering scientific experiments of Roger Bacon. Bacon has developed ideas for submarines, explosives, telescopes and aeroplanes -- history will be cast into chaos if any of these ideas see the light of day.

Bacon is living among Franciscan friars who consider him to be a heretic embarrassment. When a friar is found dead in suspicious circumstances, they are keen to implicate Bacon and have him locked away for good.

However, more and more murders are being committed and it's increasingly obvious that Bacon cannot be held responsible for them all.

Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 256 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books (7 May 2001)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0563538333
  • ISBN-13: 978-0563538332
  • Product Dimensions: 17.6 x 11 x 2.2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 2.1 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (7 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 901,510 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Historical Adventure 26 Sep 2008
I actually quite liked Asylum, it may not be among the best of the BBCs Doctor Who books, but is certainly an enjoyable adventure in the past. My largest complaint is perhaps the way that it starts out more like a modern historical than the traditional style - aliens in the past, rather than the purely historical Hartnell stories. Yet within 20 pages all this is seemingly forgotten, instead we end up with just a historical whodunnit (although a pretty good one!). Likewise at the end once the mystery has all been resolved some tedious and pointless philosophy ensues for absolutely no reason. Quite well written really, even if a little unoriginal. Something I had no problem with was the bringing back of Nyssa, I thought she worked quite well in the story - but why the fourth Doctor was used instead of the fifth I'm not so sure of. Yes it allows us to see an older Nyssa, but a later Doctor would save all the time paradox complications.
I didn't bother to read the essay at the end, it looked rather long and limited. From previous reviews it seems I missed nothing.
It does perhaps seem that Davill-Evans had a great short story idea, but failed in beefing that out into a standard Past Doctor Adventure. A fair enough read, quite an interesting Historical story, but it is lacking somewhat. The writer seems to have changed direction with the book several times, leaving some points very interesting, some points rather weak.
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The TARDIS is drawn to the far future when it detects an anomaly in the time-space continuum, where upon arrival he discovers that the technographer, who had been studying a member of the Franciscan brotherhood Roger Bacon from the thirteenth century, is someone who knows who he is, but he has never met her before, and that all of her research has now been altered by the anomaly. Soon he sets off to the time of Bacon to discover just what happened there, but the technographer, with her advance knowledge of the TARDIS, manages to stowaway on board.
Peter Darvill-Evans' latest Doctor Who book 'Asylum' features the Fourth Doctor and Nyssa of Traken in a pseudo-historical story, although that said the elements that make it a pseudo-historical rather than just a historical story are kept to a minimum. From the Doctor's point of view, this story seems to take place in the gap between The Deadly Assassin and The Face Of Evil, and sees the Doctor, between companions, meeting up with a future companion in Nyssa who has already travelled with the Doctor's future self.
I enjoyed this novel much more than Darvill-Evans' most recent Past Doctor Adventure 'Independence Day' which was heavily flawed, but with 'Asylum' he has produced a much more enjoyable book, even if it does have some problems. These range from the fact that Darvill-Evans doesn't really explain the events of the first prologue, preferring instead to leave the mystery of what they were completely unanswered. This does work on one level, but some sort of explanation for them would have helped. The shortness of the novel doesn't help it much either, as it leads to the feeling that very little has actually happened throughout the novel.
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3.0 out of 5 stars 'The Name of the Rose' Doctor Who style 20 May 2001
By A Customer
The Doctor detects a temporal anomaly forming, and heads to its location - arriving in the House of Nyssa of Traken. Nyssa once travelled with the Doctor, but the Doctor who arrives is from a time before he met her! It seems that something bizarre is happening in regard to the accomplishments of Roger Bacon, and so the Doctor heads for Oxford in 1278, little realising Nyssa has stowed away...
Introducing a companion into a story out of sequence is not something that happens often in Doctor Who, and adds a level of complexity to this novel with Nyssa carefully avoiding giving anything away about the Doctor's future.
And herein lies the problem: why make a book more complex for no very good reason? Nyssa's presence adds little to the story, and she behaves in a way that is somewhat at odds with her established character. While we have seen her tired and frustrated before, we have never seen her give up on everything!
Nyssa aside, the story largely progresses as a mediaeval murder mystery (along the lines of 'The Name of the Rose' and various detective series set in mediaeval times), and is not a bad sample of that genre.
Peter Darvill-Evans includes a lengthy afterword entitled 'A History of Errors and Falsifications' in which he details the trials and tribulations of an author trying to be both historically accurate and readable at the same time.
Overall, I found this book a pleasant distraction, not overly challenging or earth shattering, but perhaps a novel that belongs better in another genre without the Doctor Who trappings.
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A very poor Doctor Who book. 13 Jan 2002
By A Customer
Not a very impressive Dr Who novel, in fact i'd say it was one of the worst. The book is about 25 pages shorter than the average.The two hundred and fifty or so pages that are there, include about thirty pages of waffle, (research & acknowledgements etc).
Nyssa is paired up with the fourth Doctor in what feels to be a very contrived manner. She then does very little until towards the end of the story, when she behaves in a manner that seems very out of character. Having decided that she wishes to die and wants the villain to kill her.
There are also several annoying occurances where the author seems to be using particular words for the sake of it, or to show how clever he is. As an example, the word destrier is used throughout the book. While it is obvious that this is a horse, what most people won't realise is that this is a warhorse. The author however, never sees fit to actually point this out.
The story is poor, as is the style. I was very dissapointed with this book indeed.
'Asylum' is the third book by Peter Darvill-Evans that i have read, it will also be the last.
My advice would be to save your money and spend it on a superior book, such as 'The shadow in the glass' or 'The year of intelligent tigers'.
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