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Doctor Who: Palace of the Red Sun [Paperback]

Christopher Bulis
3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)

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Book Description

4 Mar 2002 Doctor Who
The sixth Doctor novel with Peri Brown. Interstellar tyrant Glavis Judd has usurped the world-kingdom Esselven; however, his plans for total conquest are thwarted. The royal family have escaped the planet, taking with them the keys to vital archives and systems essential to Esselven's governance.

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books (4 Mar 2002)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 056353849X
  • ISBN-13: 978-0563538493
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 11.2 x 2 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.8 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (4 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 515,440 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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Customer Reviews

3.8 out of 5 stars
3.8 out of 5 stars
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Great! 2 Sep 2003
Format:Paperback
This is another good book from Chris Bulis, one of the most prolific authors of the Doctor Who range. Being the worst represented on television, it's always good to see the Sixth Doctor making an appearance, and he's characterised very well here, as is his companion Peri. The regulars are separated quite early on, and so both get plenty to do. As with most of Bulis' books, the plot centres around a strong mystery - at the start, there are lots of strange events occuring, the explanations for which are revealed in a very clever series of plot twists at the end. Characterisation is also strong: Judd is far from the typical cardboard tyrant, and Oralissa also comes across as a strong character struggling to work out the mysteries of a world she fails to understand. The setting of a never-ending series of gardens has never been done before in Doctor Who, and it's brought to life with magnificent realism and imagery. The book is hardly earth-shattering, and there's never a huge sense of threat, but it's a good, strong novel and that's all that really matters.
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5.0 out of 5 stars Planetary Mysteries 22 May 2009
Format:Paperback
An intriguing, captivating mystery for the Doctor to solve as he finds himself on a planet where the TARDIS cannot find their location and the rules of the society they have encountered make no sense...

Even without the BRILLIANT backing characters- the return of the ever-frustrating Dexel Dynes, the intriguing complexity of the self-proclaimed 'Protector' Glavis Judd, the Princess Oralissa trapped in a world where only she sees anything strange, the sentient robot Green-8 seeking to find his place-, the mystery of the society presented here was MORE than enough to capture my interest.

Add in the great characterisation of the Sixth Doctor- as prone to making fine speeches as ever while retaining his clear compassion- and Peri- constantly demonstrating the strength of spirit that allowed her to stand up to the Master on her first trip-, and you have a great novel that has far too often been understated by critics.
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1.0 out of 5 stars Palace of the Red Sun 22 Nov 2007
By Rich
Format:Paperback
The Sixth Doctor and Peri are characterised well and the planet is a nice idea but this book is SO slooooooooowwwwww, that by the time the answers to the mystery arrive, you've lost interest. I think this would have worked better as a novella, but as a full-length novel the pace kills it.
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5.0 out of 5 stars A brilliant read. 27 Aug 2014
Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
My equal favourite who novel,the other being Players.A vibrant story with great realizations of the sixth Doctor and Peri.One of only a few books I have re-read.
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Amazon.com: 3.7 out of 5 stars  3 reviews
5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Basic Who 22 July 2002
By David Roy - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Christopher Bulis is well-known inside the Doctor Who mythos as an author who writes very traditional Doctor Who stories. There won't be any radical characterization, no big changes in the Who universe, or anything like that. His characters are usually one-note and it's his plots that either make the book worth reading or not. Thankfully, Palace of the Red Sun is one of his better ones.
The TARDIS lands in what seems like an idyllic garden setting. The red sun beats down on it without much heat, giving a very pleasant atmosphere. The Doctor and Peri decide to stay and have a little bit of a holiday. The Doctor, however, is intrigued because he can't get the TARDIS controls to tell him where they are. Peri decides to wander around the garden a bit, and is met by a talking bear with a hat (think Paddington). This bear wants to play a game, and ends up leading her into a pit that's impossible for her to get out of. The Doctor goes to get a ladder, but when he comes back, Peri's gone!
Meanwhile, Glavis Judd, the self-proclaimed protector of the galaxy, has invaded the planet of Esselven to rid it of its supposed tyrants. Unfortunately, the royal family manages to get away, and leave all of the governing documents in a vault that can only be opened by the DNA signature of a royal family member. Judd spends the next year trying to track them down. The intrepid news reporter, Dexter Dynes, has been following the story from the beginning, hoping to get lots of exciting (and violent) news footage. When Judd thinks he's finally tracked them down, Dynes couldn't be happier.
What do these two plots have to do with each other? The story becomes a race against time as the Doctor tries to find the "Lords" of these gardens, and tries to save them against an invasion that they don't seem to realize is coming. Peri has to deal with the people who live outside of the gardens. Who can they trust, when nothing on this planet is what it seems?
The plot behind Palace of the Red Sun is actually very interesting. The two plots initially don't seem to have anything to do with one another, but Bulis does tie it together well. The idea of a "Protector" going around and invading places for their own good is kind of interesting, though it doesn't seem that realistic, especially as Bulis presents it. The idea that numerous worlds could see what Protector Judd has done to other worlds and still want him to "save" them is, to me, a little ridiculous. I know that some people would welcome it, but this many?
The relationship between the garden idea and this militaristic plot is very intriguing, though. Bulis does make the transitions from one to the other very well. The Doctor and Peri are hard-pressed to figure out what's happening. The plot has a certain "what the heck is going on?" element to it that is not always done well. Here, it is. Just when you think you've got it figured out, Bulis throws a bit of a twist in. The final couple of twists are really interesting, though, as the two plots dovetail rather nicely and are finally resolved.
It's too bad the same can't be said of the characters. This has always been Bulis' weakness. The characterization of the Doctor and Peri are passable, but that's because we have numerous books and TV episodes to keep in mind as we're reading the book. The original characters suffer a great deal. Judd is a ruthlessly efficient tyrant who will do whatever it takes to achieve his goals. Dynes just wants the story and to have as much violent footage for his broadcast as possible. There is a "robot starts becoming sentient" bit that is straight out of many science fiction ideas (though the robot is one of the more interesting characters in the book). The inhabitants of the garden fulfill their assigned roles, but do little else (though there is a bit of a reason for that in story terms, I won't say what it is). Basically, they're all very bland and uninteresting.
Dynes is a character from one of Bulis' previous Who novels, The Ultimate Treasure. There really isn't any reason for him to be in this book other than at the whim of the author. Bulis tries to make a point about how the public seems to lap up violent news images even as they decry the media for broadcasting them. However, the point is so heavy-handed that my head hurt from the mallet Bulis hit it with. It's too bad, too, because Dynes certainly seemed to have potential as a worthwhile character. However, in a Bulis book, there are no shades of grey, which always make the best characters.
Thankfully, though, the plot is intriguing enough to make up for it. This is a very lukewarm recommendation, but ultimately I would recommend the book. I don't think I would make it your first Dr. Who book, though.
5.0 out of 5 stars The kind of vacation spot where the time does literally go too quickly 29 May 2012
By Michael Battaglia - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
Due to nobody's fault but his own, Christopher Bulis "Who" novels have often been accused of being rather pedestrian affairs, exciting in the same way that comfort food is exciting. Safe and bland and existing primarily to give you a fix of everyone's favorite Time Lord, the reputation of his stories amongst those who are looking for a bit more of a radical approach or even just for an author to stretch out in a different format is not, shall we say, excessively glowing. Yet, as he notes in his author bio in this novel, he has managed to at the time of that writing to publish over a million words of "Doctor Who" related fiction, which means that someone with the power to make decisions likes him. Whether that's a commentary on what the fans ultimately want or the BBC's quality control practices is a debate for another time (my suspicion is it's probably as simple as he makes deadlines), but the bottom line is you generally know what you're going to get from a Bulis novel, and this is no exception.

Part of the problem is, and it seems more pronounced in this novel, he can't write an exciting character to save his life. Either they merely exist to move the plot along or they're so one-note that they can make a Ramones song seem like a symphony. The Doctor could be any Doctor at all, past or present (to the point where Bulis has to specifically have the Doctor, in a rather egregious violation of "show not tell", note how a certain action he takes is unlike what he would have done in a previous incarnation), Peri at least gets to be plucky and hot (not necessarily in that order, mind you) and everyone else is just kind of there. Media prostitute Dexel Dynes shows up in nearly every other scene to remind us that he'll go to any length to get the story or manufacture it to make the story more exciting, and tyrant Glavis Judd is there because the story needs a villain and golly, he'll do.

So it's the setting and the plot that are the only hope of saving the book. And you know what, they almost do. After a prologue where Judd attempts to take over yet another world (because he's so good at it people practically beg him to come invade) and the royal family escapes leaving behind a vault that can only be opened by living members of the royal family and without which the planet cannot be properly governed (which is just the first of the book's many contrivances), we switch to the Doctor and Peri landing on a strange world that seems to be a giant garden tended by robots who are quite content to go about their duties to an obsessive degree. Meanwhile they keep running into strange playmates, including a giant bear named Boots and a girl named Luci who just wants to play. The robots keep talking about the Lords who live in the palaces and there are people living there indulging in some grade A costume drama scenarios but what does this all have to do with each other? Meanwhile, Glavis Judd is getting closer.

As setups go, this one isn't half-bad and it's the mystery that manages to propel this novel. A good chunk of it is figuring out what the heck is going on and how all the pieces fit, coupled with a rather "wait a minute . . ." sense as Bulis keeps throwing on other mysteries to keep the book moving. The opening scenes on the world are delightfully surreal, with the robots tending the garden and the happy bear, unfortunately it's a tone that book can't quite sustain for a large chunk of it and it quickly develops into the standard scenario of the Doctor and friend getting separated and having different adventures. Peri leads a revolution yet again (but isn't transformed and transmogrified this time out, which is a nice change) and gets involved with the primitive scavengers who live here as well (and at times seem to be taking this into a different novel entirely) while we keep focusing on the palace antics, which are a bit over the top dialogue wise (sample line: "When I marry I want it to be for love, to one whose soul sings with mine!") until you're starting to wonder if he's being deliberate. Turns out, he is.

All the happenings more or less disguise the fact that the plot essentially consists of figuring out what's going on, as none of it seems to make any difference anyway. Once they establish exactly what the situation is, the book basically ends as the Doctor tidies up, taking care of Judd (who he never really meets) in a perfunctory "if I must" kind of way. The explanations for all the bizarreness are actually kind of interesting and do fit together but ultimately it means very little because a lot of the threats are dealt with in a "who cares" type of fashion. The plot proceeds in an entirely stepwise fashion, with a number of contrivances that stretch the idea of what a coincidence can accomplish (the Doctor manages to get stuck with the one sentient robot on the whole planet?) and make the conclusion seem less clever than it might have been if people didn't have the solution basically handed to them. There's a little bit of poetry in the end, even if the point is made in none too subtle a fashion, but overall you wonder what an author with a bit more style and verve could have done with this scenario. It actually reads quickly (I finished it in a few hours) and other than the spots that feel spat out of the "story-o-matic" it exists quite well as a page turner. It kept me reading and never bored me but it never really engaged me either, I never cheered or laughed or cried, I just read until the book was over and thought "Well, that wasn't too terrible." Personally, I'd like to strive for a little more than that in my novels, but considering whose name is on the cover, I'm pretty sure I got exactly what I deserved.
4 of 11 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars None in a Million 30 Nov 2003
By Jason A. Miller - Published on Amazon.com
Format:Paperback
"Palace of the Red Sun" is Chris Bulis's 12th novel based on "Doctor Who", including the one book done for the New Adventures after their "Who" license was revoked. Whatever.
Chris Bulis has now written, by his own count, one million words of "Doctor Who"-associated fiction. Whatever.
"Palace of the Red Sun" is the third of those novels (that's 25%, that is) with Peri as the companion. Whatever.
"Palace of the Red Sun" features three seemingly random plots. One takes place on a weird world populated by one-dimensional fairy-tale characters, stuck in a sixth-grade-reader version of Camelot, with princesses and dukes and bawdy Shakespearian nurses. Whatever.
The second plot features a bunch of futuristic stereotypes (the benign-ish military conqueror, the unscrupulous journalist) with more Silly Space Names than a Terrance Dicks novel. Names like "Glavis Judd" (love can build a bridge) and "Dexel Dynes" (back to the lab again, Dexter). Then again, Chris Bulis is the man who once gave us Gelbert J. Sternby. Whatever.
The third plot is about the generic Doctor, with a generic female companion in various states of deshabille -- who spends a lot of time fantasizing about getting into the bathtub. The only thing that distinguishes Bulis's 6th Doctor from, well, any of the other seven Doctors he's inked, is the sardonic punishment inflicted on the bad guys at the end. Whatever.
There's an obvious plot twist telegraphed 200 pages in advance, and it's clear from the very beginning just what these characters are hiding. Whatever.
And yet, when the plot twist comes, on page 225 of course, it's carried off with such brash Mickey Rooney-Judy Garland enthusiasm, that you can't help but be carried along with it all. Let's write a "Doctor Who" novel right here! In this barn! With just us kids! Whatever.
In the end, the book comes and goes. Dexel Dynes could come back in another Bulis novel in four years and I won't remember what book he's from next time, either. Whatever.
It's impossible to hate a Bulis novel, although it's impossible to want to reread them again, either. He's more Bob Baker and Dave Martin than Robert Holmes. Whatever.
In a million words of "Doctor Who"-associated fiction, Bulis has never once taken a risk, or told us something we don't know. And yes, he never leaves you feeling cheated. Whatever.
He'll be back again next year, with the Nth Doctor and Companion X. I'll buy that book, too.
Whatever.
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