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Doctor Who: The Scarlet Empress [Paperback]

Paul Magrs
3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)

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Book Description

7 Sep 1998 Doctor Who
Arriving on the almost impossibly ancient planet of Hyspero, a world where magic and danger walk hand in hand, the Doctor and Sam are caught up in a bizarre struggle for survival.

Hyspero has been ruled for thousands of years by the Scarlet Empresses, creatures of dangerous powers -- powers that a member of the Doctor's own race is keen to possess herself; the eccentric time traveler and philanderer Iris Wildthyme.

The Doctor and Sam themselves must escape the clutches of the dying Scarlet Empress, and they encounter many strange creatures on their travels -- bearded ladies, humanoid mock turtles, transvestite cyborgs and many more -- but in a land where the magical is possible, is anything really as it seems?

Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books; paperback / softback edition (7 Sep 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0563405953
  • ISBN-13: 978-0563405955
  • Product Dimensions: 17.4 x 11 x 2.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 630,580 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

Product Description

Amazon Review

Arriving on the ancient planet of Hyspero, the Doctor, and in particular Sam, set out innocently to enjoy the city which is said to have invented desire. Within no time Sam has stumbled upon a number 22 bus signed for Putney Common, which the Doctor recognises as the TARDIS of a fellow timelord, Iris Wildthyme, a flamboyant eccentric who has had a crush on him for all his lives. After rescuing her from a pit in the desert they join her in her quest for a team of former vigilantes known as the Four, consisting of an alligator man, a cyborg, a bearded woman and a mock turtle. Iris has a mission to bring them to the evil Scarlet Empress, who rules over Hyspero. But why? And what can the Scarlet Empress have that Iris needs so badly?

The Scarlet Empress begs comparison as much with novels of magic realism as with orthodox science fiction. Paul Magrs leaves behind the wobbly sets of the television series and luxuriates in the freedom of the novel form, interweaving seamlessly the comedy and humanity of his characters with the phantasmagoria of djiins and spirits they encounter. The result is a breathtaking romp of a tale which will delight aficionados and newcomers alike. --David Vincent

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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, but a little odd 29 May 2008
On the whole, a fairly enjoyable book, a nice story, etc. There's a strong basic plot, a fair bit of adventure, more adventure/fantasy than typical Doctor Who Science Fiction. But still a good read.

Looking at other reviews its suggested that this isn't really the eighth Doctor, well... I can see McGann, but will admit, Tennant would suit the story far better - but there's no real tie to the McGann Doctor, it could, for the most part, be any Doctor, the odd description, but nothing really to make it impossible to picture any other Doctor in the role.

My main gripe was the form of the narrative, it got rather confusing and for the first few chapters I was a bit puzzled as to how the story was really going, later on I got the hang of it, but it's a rather abnormal narrative style. But a nice endearing story, which certainly tries hard.
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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
2.0 out of 5 stars Most certainly not Doctor Who as I remember it 2 April 2001
By finna
At the end of the day, I didn't really know what to make of this. The epic cross-country quest depicted is far more at home in mainstream fantasy novels than Doctor Who as are the magical/fantastical elements which didn't really add anything to the story in any case. The storyline itself I found neither funny or dramatic and ultimately just simple and silly, and what little plot there was uninteresting. Even Iris, for whom I initially had high hopes, turned out to be dull and uninspiring too. I can understand some people raving about this because it's certainly very different, but for me just too different. It just never really felt like Who to me. Sorry.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Of the BBC Novels this is my favourite so far. Paul Magrs resurrects his character of Iris Wildthyme (last seen in Short Trips' "Old Flames"), a Gallifreyan Miriam Margolyes. She is hopelessly in love with the Doctor and follows him through time in her TARDIS, an old red London bus which is smaller on the inside than the outside. The story is basically a quest to find a gang of vigilantes who the Scarlet Empress, ruthless leader of the planet Hyspero, needs out of the way. To complete this task she sends Iris who, on the way, manages to get the Doctor mixed up in it too. The really impressive part of the book for me was the snappy dialogue, particularly between the Doctor and Iris. I was reading this on a train and it was very difficult not to belly-laugh at times. There is an hilarious moment when the Doctor hears Iris scream from inside the bus and presumes she's run out of tonic. If (and when) the series eventually returns to TV I sincerely hope it's like this and I hope Magrs is a regularly contributor. He so perfectly captures the essence of 'Doctor Who'; exciting, scary but, at the same time a real good laugh. Failing that, BBC Books should seriously consider asking him to write new novels - preferably bringing back old Iris at the same time (and it would be great to see her with the past Doctors too). Highly Recommended!!
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Format:Paperback|Verified Purchase
I'm slowly working my way through the BBC 8th Doctor books and most of them are pretty good. This isn't. I skimmed the last 180 pages, and in a 280 page book, that's not good. The thing is, I didn't feel like I missed much. There's very little plot. What plot there is, is a by-the-numbers collect the x idea, where x in this case is a series of weird mercenaries. That could have been the framework for a decent, if predictable quest story, but this isn't it. The titular villain is an interesting idea, but is barely relevant to the book. The supporting character of Iris Wildthyme is good fun, but not perhaps very well written. I can see this story on TV as a late Colin Baker or early Sylvester McCoy story (i.e. the show's mostly crap period). Miriam Margolyes would have been Iris.
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4.0 out of 5 stars The Scarlet Empress 13 Aug 2013
The Scarlet Empress is an 8th Doctor adventure featuring Iris Wildthyme by Paul Magrs. It is more a fantasy/adventure novel than it is science fiction which sets it apart from the previous novels in the range.

The Doctor and Sam arrive on Hyspero to discover the Doctor's old associate Iris Wildthyme embroiled in quest to reform a band of four mutants for the Scarlet Empress. Iris' motives are questionable, and she isn't giving much away to the Doctor. As the story progresses the band get back together and join forces to thwart the Scarlet Empress. It's a good premise, but it's the little side-stories which really let the novel down as they draw from fantasy rather than science fiction. It seems Magrs has tried to shoehorn in as many fantasy ideas as possible and it comes across a little fragmented at times.

I also have a couple of quibbles with Magrs writing style namely his use of long words and his insertion of "videotape" footage from the future. Whilst I don't like my novels to be dumbed down it's annoying when you have to stop mid-sentence to look a word up in a dictionary. The videotape footage just serves to confuse, and stops the flow of what is otherwise an entertaining passage.

Magrs does the 8th Doctor brilliantly, harking back to his portrayal in Vampire Science, and Sam is also a joy to read now she's matured. Both characters really shine with their interactions with Iris, Sam in particular taking to the "cool mum" image Iris has.

Iris Wildthyme is one of Paul Magrs original characters and I won't lie, she's pretty cool and it's nice to see an author change our established views of the Doctors past, and try to push the series forward.
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Most Recent Customer Reviews
4.0 out of 5 stars An absolute joy
Paul Magrs is, without doubt, my favourite Who author. His sweeps of fancy - more fantasy than SciFi - are visionary, with a richness of detail that's rare in the EDA's and truly... Read more
Published on 21 Feb 2012 by Book Critic
4.0 out of 5 stars Galloping adventure
Relished this story. The Doctor plays second fiddle to the wonderful Iris WildThyme. Well written and well paced. Each character narrates and each voice is distinct. Read more
Published on 25 Sep 2010 by Helen
1.0 out of 5 stars Not the Doctor
Anyone who has seen the movie with Paul McGann and listened to his subsequent performances on the Big Finish audio range will find this hard to take. Read more
Published on 30 Mar 2007 by azrael007
5.0 out of 5 stars flight of fancy
A stunningly original piece of work putting the doctor and sam into a fantastical world on a fantastical quest, this holds and grips the reader with it's sheer inventiveness. Read more
Published on 21 July 2006 by Paul Tapner
5.0 out of 5 stars Magical
This is easily the best of the 8DA line I have yet to read. Utterly unorthodox for a Doctor Who novel, but why not? There are hundreds of by-the-numbers Doctor Who novels. Read more
Published on 13 July 2001 by
1.0 out of 5 stars Avoid at all costs
Although I feel a little unfair at offering a review for a book I didn't finish, I'm afraid I simply couldn't bring myself to plough on any further through this turgid... Read more
Published on 27 Jan 1999
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