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Doctor Who: The Scarlet Empress [Mass Market 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?

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Product details

  • Mass Market Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books; paperback / softback edition (7 Sep 1998)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0563405953
  • ISBN-13: 978-0563405955
  • Product Dimensions: 17.8 x 11.2 x 2.3 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 3.3 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (11 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 672,544 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
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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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1.0 out of 5 stars Avoid at all costs 27 Jan 1999
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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 bowell-movement of a novel. It's a (very) simple quest story, told in a hugely uninteresting way, and this is only the second Doctor Who book I have ever given up on before the conclusion (the other being the Shadow of Weng-Chiang). The book, while containing a few credible fantasy ideas is unfortunately written in such an unreadable way that my concentration was rarely held and I just gave up completely around page 200, completely unsatisfied with what I had read. The narrative flits (apparently randomly) between third person and various first person speakers in a very annoying manner. Sam, incidentally does virtually nothing, although this is not necessarily a bad thing. If you're new to the range, whatever you do, don't start with this one.
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3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
By A Customer
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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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5.0 out of 5 stars flight of fancy 21 July 2006
Format:Mass Market Paperback
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. It's something different, and it's something different that works superbly.

Pity Paul Magrs' subsequent efforts haven't been nearly as good
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Format:Mass Market 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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