, from the series of Doctor Who books to feature the adventures of past Doctors and their companions, showcases the strength of this range perfectly. Were it not for its huge scope and broad canvas, Divided Loyalties
would sit quite happily alongside the television stories between which it is meant to nestle. The book features the fifth Doctor (played on television by Peter Davison) and his earliest team of companions--Tegan, Nyssa and Adric, and Russell manages to perfectly capture the interplay between these characters that made this era of the show so distinctive.
This neophyte team of adventurers (they'd barely been together for a couple of months, as the book begins) are thrown into conflict with one of the Doctor's oldest foes, the Celestial Toymaker, who is busily setting up an audacious trap for his nemesis. While each of the TARDIS team has their part to play in his plan, the devilish Toymaker also drags the crew of a remote space station, a handful of innocent victims from Earth and the entire population of the planet Dymok into his cruel games.
If there's a weakness to Divided Loyalties, it lies in the very ambition that also makes it such a gripping read: as the story thunders to its climax, there are so many threads reaching their zenith that the actual conclusion is-- almost by necessity--not given quite the space it deserves. But this gripe is a minor one, as the journey to the end of the book is truly exciting. Helping the action along is Russell's incredible grip on the characters of this era. The fifth Doctor is by turns quiet and unsure, then exasperated and authoritative, just as he should be. Tegan is the right mix of brassiness and capability; Nyssa is the sensitive, intelligent one the series always made her out to be; and Adric? Well, Adric is just as annoying as he was on the small screen. But at least here Russell eventually manages to mellow him into a halfway likeable character. Perhaps the most fascinating part of the book, though, doesn't feature these characters at all. Divided Loyalties features a detour to the very beginning of the Doctor's adventures, as a young Time Lord-to-be. Here, we witness his first meeting with the Toymaker, and ... well, anything more would be spoiling it. Suffice it to say that, for this part of the book alone, Divided Loyalties is well worth a look. --David Bailey