For the first twenty-four pages of LEGACY, I was really enjoying myself. Gary Russell opens with a short history of the planet Peladon, fleshing out a lot of background that had merely been hinted at during the first two Doctor Who stories to use that setting. This was quite entertaining and it had me completely captivated.
Then I started reading page twenty-five.
While the opening had used its continuity references as building blocks for the story, what immediately followed was an unrestrained and pointless gallivant through Doctor Who stories too numerous to count. The references during that opening were necessary, but not off-putting. I hadn't watched the previous Peladon stories in quite some time, but I didn't feel as though I couldn't follow the story because of the referencing. But I simply can't imagine what someone who without an encyclopedic knowledge of Doctor Who stories would make of some of these. I kept waiting for the book to regain the momentum that it possessed during the beginning, but it simply never did. Portions of it were enjoyable, but between the overburdening continuity references, minor sloppy plotting, and strangely worded sections of prose, there was just too much carelessness for me to really enjoy this book.
If the story outline of LEGACY had been written to its absolute fullest potential, then the book would have been a fairly average and non-demanding action adventure. But there are just too many little things dragging it below what it could have been. Pointless and gratuitous continuity references abound, and rather than enhancing the story, more often than not they are distracting and silly. There are several passages that would have seemed poor in a first draft, yet somehow made it through to the final manuscript. For example, someone is going to have to explain to me how Alpha Centauri (who's entire skull is a gigantic eye socket - he has the biggest eye in Doctor Who history) could possibly not identify an assailant that was standing directly in front of him. And Ace is relegated to a pointless and boring subplot that, despite what the narrative actually comes out and tells us, does not have any impact on the main story. Just too many minor things spoil this average adventure.
The pulpy action-adventure clichés actually work part of the time. But for every sentence that can be read with a knowing smirk, there's another one that appears with a groan. Still, I found myself somewhat enjoying the simplicity of the plot even though the book really seemed to be daring me to like it. Despite the flimsiness of the storyline, and the shallowness of the characters, I kept finding little pieces to enjoy. To put it another way, while at the end of the day I still can't say it was a good book, there were enough little moments to prevent me from labeling it as totally worthless.
This book certainly feels very earnest. It's attempting to hit quite a lot of buttons here, but many of them are missed. LEGACY may have its heart in the right place, but its brain is slightly off-center. A lot of the problems are relatively minor, but the sheer number of them prevented me from liking this one.