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on 23 September 2000
"Festival of Death" is a novel set just before the last season of the most popular of Doctors, Tom Baker. It's an odd place - Baker's second last season is (in my opinion) one of the worst in the show's history, while his last was a return to the excellence that accompanied Baker's arrival in the role.
This book therefore manages to combine some of the odd humour of season sixteen with the better production quality of season seventeen. Into the bargain, a story idea that should have been used in the show at some time is featured. The Doctor, Romana and K9 arrive at a place where they have just been, and must travel back in time to carry out the activities that they have been told they have done.
Like the last month's Past Doctor novel, Imperial Moon, the Doctor has some foreknowledge of what is happening but must act to preserve the web of time. And in this case, the Doctor is told he sacrificed his life to save the day.
Given the crossing of the timelines inherent in the story, Jonathan Morris does an excellent job in making the story plain when it could have been confusing. He does this in two ways: firstly, with strong and memorable scenes which stay in the reader's mind; and secondly, by use of somewhat cliched characters. Obviously, I approve of the former but the latter is another harking back to season sixteen.
"Festival of Death" is a good read, and given the similarity of theme to "Imperial Moon" it is interesting to compare and contrast the two different incarnations of the Doctor in their approaches.
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on 25 January 2001
This was something really, really special. Something quite unique that takes a hugely complex idea and manages to make it delightfully simple. The idea of the Doctor and Romana finding that they've already been, when in fact that experience is still in their future has never been explored in such an attractive and entertaining way. I could not really fault this book, save for sometimes having to remind myself from time to time just how many times the Doctor and Romana had gone back in time, and which time it was now. If you see what I mean? Lovely characters, lovely story, lovely concept. I'm fervently hoping now that Jonathan Morris has got a few more aces up his sleeve, because this one is truly a winner all the way. Something of a stroke of genius. Buy it now! Enjoy to the limit! Just don't try and analyse each layer to death time-wise like I did-it'll drive you mad!
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"'Did the universe get out of the wrong side of bed this morning, or is it me?' he asked."

This book, first published in 2000, has been re-released as the representative Fourth Doctor story in the 50th anniversary celebrations of Doctor Who. This was written by Jonathan Morris, who has written quite a few Doctor Who and related books etc.

The story involves the Fourth Doctor and Romana II arriving in a hyperspace tunnel which has become the graveyard of a number of ships after an accident some two centuries earlier. Now it is where the Beautiful Death themepark is run, where tourists come to be treated to an experience featuring death itself. But when the Doctor and Romana arrive, they are surprised to find themselves known to people who are there. Have they been here before, and if so, what did they do? And how can they do it again?

This is a complicated time-travel back and forth in eddies of time kind of Doctor Who story, one which you have to keep your wits about you to keep track of who is where, why and when. But that makes for a satisfying read, and one in which the Doctor and Romana, and K-9, all have their own important parts to play in the story. The personification of the Fourth Doctor in this story is spot on. I liked the sly humour that is used in the story, and the characteristics of the Doctor and Romana were both well portrayed. The other characters in the story, including Evadne, Harken Batt and ERIC the computer are all well written in. I did think more could have been made of the backstory of the Rochfort and Byson, to see why they were the way they were, but that's just a small personal quibble. Great stuff; a great Fourth Doctor story, and totally recommended.
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on 12 December 2001
After reading the incredibly plot heavy Interference I wanted something that I could enjoy and hopefully, have a laugh at. "Festival of Death doesn't disappoint. It has the exact humour of season seventeen. Jonathan Morris does an absolutely incredible job with the Doctor and Romana, getting their characters perfected to a tee. The interplay between them was just as it had been in the TV series. I understand that this is Mr Morris' first novel, in which case it makes his achievement seem even more succesful. The plot was good. It does become quite hard to keep track of the timeframes but my advice would simply be dont try. Just sit back and enjoy a highly entertaining novel.
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on 16 March 2004
Wow. I've read a good heap of recent Who fiction and if you only read one of the bunch I'd say make it this one. The beautifully constructed plot sees the 4th Doctor, Romana and K9 continually hopping back through time whilst investigating an anomaly at a hyperspatial carnival. Along the way they have to sort out zombies, hungry spiders and an ancient entity known as the Repulsion. Morris succeeds as brilliantly as Gareth Roberts in capturing the bristly, flirty chemistry of Tom Baker and Lalla Ward. It's also very funny. Lush, literary and, above all, a blast.
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on 14 September 2005
Hi all! I've just finished reading the above book. I've only just got into these new stories, as I was really only interested in reading the books that have specifically been broadcast on TV. The first few (which I won't mention here!) were quite disapointing. Either the plots were weak or the characters were undeveloped. Not so here! OK, so the book had elements of "The Leisure Hive" and "Warriors Gate" but that's actually part of it's ingenuity. It manages to slip effortlessly in between these stories, thus keeping the continuity. The Doctor and Romana interract exactly as if this were a full, 4 part TV story.
The plot does twist and turn, and I did find myself flicking back a couple of chapters to remind myself of who was where and how, but it keeps you on your toes. Well constructed and very enjoyable. Just like popping back in time 25 years or so!
Well worth adding to the collective!
(sorry, couldn't resist it!)
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on 29 August 2000
Jonathan Morris has written a wonderful Doctor Who novel that, for once, makes a clever use of the idea of time travel to tell a story in reverse order.
A beautifully-rendered Doctor, K9 and Romana turn up on a space station to find that they've just saved the universe, and spend the rest of the book finding out how.
The twists and turns never fail to amuse and surprise - the plot is taut, and makes incredibly careful use of the period, bringing the fourth Doctor back to life, with flashing teeth, trailing scarf and manic wit. As a whole it just sings, making it a joy to read.
The plot is convoluted and intelligent in just the right way - complex enough to keep you reading, but never truly baffling.
The supporting characters - especially the computer with a death wish - are marvellous.
It really is a fantastic addition to the range - and makes you fervently wish that they were all this inventive.
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VINE VOICEon 2 January 2006
There is much in this novel that is derivative - the recreational exploration of death from Flatliners; a manic computer lifted from 2001 A Space Odyssey, yet another Lovecraftain entity wishing to destroy all life; the various Douglas Adams references - yet none of it really matters, as the real joy of Festival Of Death is in seeing how Morris constructs the novel. The Doctor, Romana and K-9 first land at the end of the adventure, and have to travel back in time to find out what happened - several times - with the result that at any given time there are multiple versions of the regulars running around. It's very complex, but also highly rewarding as the jigsaw puzzle plot slowly fits seamlessly together, and Morris keeps the bantering humour of the TV era which makes this a highly readable novel. A fantastic debut.
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on 20 September 2000
Fantastic stuff. Though it can get a bit confusing in the middle, everything ties up to a very satisfactory conclusion, with some great "cunning plans". It's a long time since I've read the last sixty odd pages of a book grinning like an idiot. And there are lots of great jokes, too.
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on 4 September 2000
This is so well written, if you are a fan then you MUST buy this. The 4th Dr comes alive from the page and the characters are so well drawn. It is also very funny, which is such a change from the usual po faced style of the books. A wonderful addition to the range
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