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Doctor Who: Dying in the Sun
Doctor Who: Dying in the Sun
by Jon De Burgh Miller
Edition: Paperback

7 of 7 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Finally... A New Second Doctor Novel!, 7 Oct 2001
After what seems like an eternity, Dying In The Sun marks the return of the Second Doctor to the Past Doctor Adventures and it's a rather triumphant return.
Jon De Burgh Miller, making his full Doctor Who debut after previous co-writing the final New Adventure Twilight Of The Gods, does something more experienced Doctor Who authors have tried and failed in that he captures the essence of the Second Doctors character wonderfully well, with the result that I could hear Patrick Troughton saying each of the Doctors lines vividly.
The most important thing though about Dying In The Sun, is at it's heart it's a very enjoyable novel. The plot which sees the Doctor, Ben and Polly investigating something sinister in the Los Angeles of 1947 revolving around the opening of a new film, which is set to make a stunning impact on the world, is well crafted, with Miller ensuring that it moves along with pace.
The quality of the writing throughout the novel is to a high standard, and this helps the novel move through some of it's more predictable areas within the plot, which does on times prove to be a problem. The tension that Miller tries to create in these scenes doesn't really come off as well as it could when what happens next is as obvious as it is. But this is a very minor quibble with an essentially very enjoyable book.
With such a strong characterisation of the Second Doctor, and the high calibre of the writing, Dying In The Sun is arguably the best story featuring this Doctor that the BBC have published so far. An admirable novel.


The Infernal Nexus (Professor Bernice Summerfield)
The Infernal Nexus (Professor Bernice Summerfield)
by Dave Stone
Edition: Paperback

5 of 5 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Infernally short...but brilliant!!, 6 Sep 2001
Once more Professor Bernice Summerfield is back where she belongs on the printed pages of a novel. Here, she finds herself on a quest for an advanced research vessel, but soon she ends up at Station Control - the point where the four hundred and seventeen multiverses come together at one single point. As usual danger awaits, but so does the presence of the last person she expected to see again...
Dave Stone's The Infernal Nexus share's some superficial similarities to the previous book in this series Jac Rayner's The Squires Crystal. Namely that by some huge coincidence of fate they are both exactly the same page length (the incredibly short 186 pages) and both novels were released a very short time after the author had a Doctor Who novel published. But the most important similarity between the two novels is that they're both superb, continuing to ensure that the Big Finish Bernice books are a huge improvement of their first two novels.
The brilliance of The Infernal Nexus more than makes up for any complaints about the shortness of the novel though. Dave Stone's unique style of writing is once more in evidence, and with Stone having written quite a few solo Benny books, the quality that he showed in (most) of those is in evidence again here.
The Infernal Nexus is very enjoyable. It's well written with good characterisation of Benny and the other characters featured. There are quite a few surprises in this novel, including a massive one at the end, and these should ensure that future storylines should be very interesting indeed. The Infernal Nexus is a great little book, and if you like Dave Stone's work then it won't disappoint.
And to show that Big Finish were listening, the cover to The Infernal Nexus is radically redesigned with artwork by Adrian Salmon which is both unusual and distinctive - a huge improvement over the previous efforts!


Doctor Who: City of the Dead
Doctor Who: City of the Dead
by Lloyd Rose
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

10 of 12 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Simply Stunning..., 28 Aug 2001
'The magician had a problem. There was a fish-hook in his heart.' The opening words from the latest Eighth Doctor Adventure, The City Of The Dead by debuting author Lloyd Rose, set the tone of the novel immediately and there is a real sense that something great is happening with this novel. After grave disappointment with last months entry into the series Rose's novel is without doubt an unqualified success.
Arriving in New Orleans, the Doctor, with his companions Fitz and Anji, is immediately thrust into a murder investigation of a dealer in morbid artefacts, where a unique charm carved from human bone has been stolen too. To say anymore about the plot, would spoil what is a superb novel.
The quality of Lloyd Rose's writing shines through immediately as she brings a different tone and style to the EDA's which works perfectly. There is a freshness about her writing which brings the text to life in a very vivid way. Her depiction of New Orleans is very striking too, and by bringing her setting alive in this way, she conveys the city's vivaciousness wonderfully well, mixing the fascination with the occult and the sense of the decay in equal proportions.
Lloyd Rose characterises the Doctor well here, with the character haunted by memories of things that he can't remember, and it is this haunting which makes the novel so memorable in part. Ever since The Ancestor Cell the Doctor has suffered from memory loss due to the certain acts he committed within that novel, and this has continued through the books published during the last year. And although it looks like he won't recover them anytime soon, Rose really manages to convey well the Doctor's fear of who he is and who he was. One of the most memorable scenes amongst many is the conclusion to chapter eight, which must rank as one of the best chapter endings in any Doctor Who book.
Rose handles the Doctor's companions well here, with both of them being important to the plot as a whole. Particularly impressive is her handling of Anji who comes across very well throughout this novel, with the strong characterisation she's been given in the majority of her previous appearances being built on here, especially in relation to the subplot involving her and a local police detective which shows she might just be starting to put Dave's death behind her. Fitz is once more undeniably Fitz, and he continues to prove himself one of the most interesting male companions that have featured in Doctor Who.
Lloyd Rose's own characters are a strange set of individuals but they are well written and their presence makes them and the book as a whole more interesting. Whether it's Detective Jonas Rust, Teddy Acree, Jack Dupre or Laura Ridgepath they are all characterised well and come across as three dimensional characters in their own right.
In a novel steeped in the unusual and supernatural, there are always going to be dark scenes and Rose handles these well ensuring that the trauma suffered isn't gratuitous, but believable and convincingly done. To balance the more horrific aspects of the novel, Rose demonstrates a nice line in dry humour which remains in the background through much of the novel. But make no mistake this is a dark novel, which builds throughout to it's shattering conclusion.
If I have any complaints about The City Of The Dead, it would be that because it has a fairly small cast of characters, there aren't many candidates who could be the books main villain, but despite this predictability Rose still has a few surprises left with the plot afterwards.
The City Of The Dead is a stunning novel. Powerfully written, sharply characterised it has a huge amount going for it and comes across as a highly entertaining novel. On the basis of this novel, Lloyd Rose is a very talented writer, and it seems that this opinion is also held by those within the upper echelons of the BBC's Doctor Who section, as she's already been commissioned to write another EDA for next year 'Camera Obscura' and I for one, can't wait to read the next book from this stunning new author.


Doctor Who: Dark Progeny
Doctor Who: Dark Progeny
by Steve Emmerson
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

2.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing..., 9 Aug 2001
Steve Emmerson's previous Doctor Who book, Casualties of War, was well received and I found it to be an enjoyable, if insubstantial, entry into the Eighth Doctor Adventures. But unfortunately his new one, Dark Progeny, is very disappointing.
The main problem with Dark Progeny is that it fails to engage on many levels. The first hundred pages or so all pass by with very little of interest happening, and this feeling of detachment continues throughout the novel, even after the story starts to become more developed. It doesn't help that Emmerson pushes both Anji and Fitz out of the plots for the vast majority of the novel, with Fitz's appearance being little more than a cameo.
The premise of the novel is quite fascinating, but it's execution is flawed. Based on this and Casualties of War, Emmerson has great writing ability, and although Dark Progeny is well written in terms of it's actual construction, the prose tends to be lifeless. His characters are generally indistinct, the exception being Gaskill Tyran who is the most well developed character in the book.. Although the Doctor does some unexpected things in this novel, his character lacks the unpredictability that has become part of his character in the recent EDA's seems to be missing, and attempts to bring him into line with the 'darker' Doctor we've seen lately feel forced.
It's not really a bad book, just a rather dull one.


Doctor Who: Asylum
Doctor Who: Asylum
by Peter Darvill-Evans
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

3.0 out of 5 stars Reasonably enjoyable, but not without it's problems..., 29 July 2001
The TARDIS is drawn to the far future when it detects an anomaly in the time-space continuum, where upon arrival he discovers that the technographer, who had been studying a member of the Franciscan brotherhood Roger Bacon from the thirteenth century, is someone who knows who he is, but he has never met her before, and that all of her research has now been altered by the anomaly. Soon he sets off to the time of Bacon to discover just what happened there, but the technographer, with her advance knowledge of the TARDIS, manages to stowaway on board.
Peter Darvill-Evans' latest Doctor Who book 'Asylum' features the Fourth Doctor and Nyssa of Traken in a pseudo-historical story, although that said the elements that make it a pseudo-historical rather than just a historical story are kept to a minimum. From the Doctor's point of view, this story seems to take place in the gap between The Deadly Assassin and The Face Of Evil, and sees the Doctor, between companions, meeting up with a future companion in Nyssa who has already travelled with the Doctor's future self.
I enjoyed this novel much more than Darvill-Evans' most recent Past Doctor Adventure 'Independence Day' which was heavily flawed, but with 'Asylum' he has produced a much more enjoyable book, even if it does have some problems. These range from the fact that Darvill-Evans doesn't really explain the events of the first prologue, preferring instead to leave the mystery of what they were completely unanswered. This does work on one level, but some sort of explanation for them would have helped. The shortness of the novel doesn't help it much either, as it leads to the feeling that very little has actually happened throughout the novel.
The premise of the Doctor meeting an older Nyssa, who has been through a lot since she left the (Fifth) Doctor in Terminus, before he's even met her is an interesting one, but Darvill-Evans' spends nearly twenty pages setting this up, and then instead of Nyssa being integral to the plot she is sidelined for most of the novel with very little to do. In fact after taking so much trouble to bring Nyssa into the story, it seems a wasted opportunity. Finding out what has happened to her after she left the Doctor in Terminus is interesting, but aside from discovering that she has become tired of the violence and destruction in the Universe, the inclusion of Nyssa to this story really adds very little. Nyssa spends almost the entire book separated from the Doctor, and while he is off investigating the anomaly and the murder of one of the Franciscan brotherhood's friars, Nyssa spends most of the novel relaxing. On the way to this she captures the heart of a knight, Richard, as her beauty and demeanour enchant him. This subplot actually works quite well as Richard becomes more and more infatuated with her, it becomes quite poignant that his love for her will always remain unrequited.
The Doctor himself is excellent. He is the bold, brooding Doctor of the Fourteenth season, and for the majority of the novel it becomes very easy to imagine Tom Baker saying the Doctor's dialogue. The way that he integrates himself into the world of the thirteenth century is classic Doctor, and the way that he goes about the investigation of the murder of the friar is quite excellent.
One criticism of 'Asylum' is that it is very short. Darvill-Evans' devotes thirty odd pages to the prologue of the story, which makes the actual story very short indeed. The page count is filled out by an essay on the writing of the novel, and whilst that makes fascinating reading giving a real insight into the process of writing historical fiction, it doesn't make up for the shortness of the novel itself.
Overall, 'Asylum' is an enjoyable novel. It's well written with an interesting Thirteenth Century murder mystery at it's core. Darvill-Evans presents the world of Oxford circa 1278 AD as a fascinating place which he has recreated vividly in the form of his prose. His characterisation of the Doctor is good, and the idea of having the Fourth Doctor meet a Nyssa from the future who knows what is going to happen to the Doctor is an intriguing one, but unfortunately Darvill-Evans doesn't really exploit Nyssa's presence as well as it could have been. His characterisation of the older, more jaded Nyssa is good, although she isn't used enough really to justify the lengths that Darvill-Evans goes to include her in the novel.


Roses are Red
Roses are Red
by James Patterson
Edition: Paperback

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars A Very Enjoyable Novel...Until The End., 28 July 2001
This review is from: Roses are Red (Paperback)
Alex Cross returns once more in James Patterson's 'Roses Are Red' and once more Patterson hits the right notes.
The story revolves around Detective Cross' attempts to track down a mysterious killer - the self styled Mastermind - whose particularly brutal in his methods and ensures that anyone who garners any information about him isn't alive to tell anyone.
Patterson's short chapters really help his books to move along at a fast pace and this ensures that 'Roses Are Red' has a whirlwind pace to it as it builds to it's conclusion.
And it's that which is where the problems start.
The ending felt like it was a cheat somehow, especially as there had been no indication of it coming and it seemed designed mainly to promote Patterson's next book in the series.
It's a shame that the ending left me feeling this way as otherwise it would have been an excellent book as good as many of Patterson's previous ones.


Doctor Who: Byzantium!
Doctor Who: Byzantium!
by Keith Topping
Edition: Paperback

2 of 4 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars The Dark Side Of The Roman Empire Exposed..., 28 July 2001
This review is from: Doctor Who: Byzantium! (Paperback)
In the television Doctor Who story The Romans it appeared that when the TARDIS brought the Doctor, Ian, Barbara and Vicki to land that they went straight to a Roman villa for a holiday. Not so according to the latest Past Doctor Adventure by Keith Topping, which goes on to tell a dark tale of conflict within the Imperial City of Byzantium.
After a rather neat prologue which continues to establish the development of Ian and Barbara's relationship after their departure from the TARDIS, the tone of Byzantium! is set immediately with a vivid, if rather gruesome, description of a crucifixion. Anyone expecting a 'romp' in the style of The Romans will be disappointed as Byzantium! is a historical that deals with serious issues revolving around the growth of a new religion and the attempts of the Romans to stop it spreading, but the subtle humour that featured in Topping's The King Of Terror is still there, albeit not as predominant. Byzantium is a city suffering from the turmoil of upheaval and change and into this come the travellers from the TARDIS and with historian Barbara expecting the pomp and majesty of the Roman Empire she is in for quite the shock.
There are a number of parallels with The Romans in the way that the TARDIS team is split early on, and in some of the aspects of the story itself, such as Ian, rather than Barbara, being lusted after by the Roman Antonia. Dividing the Doctor and his companions is a well used tactic in Doctor Who stories, but Topping uses it well to examine the situation in Byzantium from four different viewpoints. The Doctor finds himself with the Christians, Ian with the Romans, Barbara with the Jews and Vicki with the Greeks. This allows the narrative to flow quickly and also by using each of the characters as a way of interpreting the events and the differing factions.
Topping really characterises the First Doctor well here, capturing William Hartnell's magnificent performances well by getting the balance between the humour of the character and his cantankerous nature just about right, demonstrated by the way that he berates Barbara for her expectations of what the Roman Empire will be like contrasted wonderfully by his reaction later in the novel when he realises that his companions aren't dead after all. Some of the best Doctor scenes though are the ones where he believes his TARDIS to be lost to him after it's disappearance and he contemplates life on Earth alone without his home or his friends. Those scenes in particular are some of the novel's finest.
Topping takes great care to ensure that Ian and Barbara speak using phrases that people from the 1960's would use and this gives their characters a quality of authenticity that is occasionally lacking from their characterisation in other novels featuring them. Topping's characterisation of these well loved characters is very good, although on occasion, particularly with Ian, he says something that doesn't sound like something you'd expect Ian to say, although given the circumstances Ian finds himself throughout most of the novel then it is actually quite appropriate for him to act slightly out of character as a result of the sense of loss that he feels.
Possibly the best use of the companions though is Vicki. Making only her third appearance in print (the first two being the Missing Adventures The Plotters and The Empire Of Glass) and her BBC PDA debut, Keith Topping really uses her character well, building her up to something more than was seen on television as she views the darker side of Byzantium through her young eyes.
Topping's writing has improved since his last solo novel, and this really shows through the writing. Whereas his previous one The King Of Terror was an enjoyable novel, Byzantium! manages to be much more with richer characterisation and doesn't pull any of it's punches. One of the most rewarding things about Byzantium! is that it is a purely historical story (in the sense that there isn't an ancient alien power lurking anyway or manipulating events) and this type of story works superbly well in the context of Doctor Who fiction (David A. McIntee's New Adventure Sanctuary being the best example of this in action) but which seems to be a sadly underused concept in practice. Topping demonstrates the excellent potential of the genre within Doctor Who here with a well written, highly enjoyable novel which gets a strong recommendation.


Doctor Who: Bullet Time
Doctor Who: Bullet Time
by David A. McIntee
Edition: Paperback

6 of 7 people found the following review helpful
3.0 out of 5 stars Return Of The Seventh Doctor..., 27 July 2001
'Bullet Time' is a strange novel to be sure, but it's one I quite enjoyed. After the contrived way of getting the Fourth Doctor and Nyssa to meet up in 'Asylum' a few months ago as I was a little wary of this one which teams the Seventh Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith together, but the way that David A. McIntee brings these two characters into the same story works well.
Certainly the way the book was structured reminded me very much of Andrew Cartmel's 'Cat's Cradle: Warhead' as the Doctor here hardly features in the first two thirds of the novel, but although his appearances are kept to the minimum they have great impact on the story. This is the Seventh Doctor of the New Adventures here (even down to the cream suit.) Dark, manipulative and someone whom Sarah has a hard time believing is the same person who was once her friend McIntee characterises the Doctor well despite the infrequency of his appearances. I've criticised the previous PDA 'Rags' for it's lack of involvement of the Doctor, but the same accusations shouldn't be made against 'Bullet Time' as it feels right to have this Doctor working in the background and out of sight to his own motivations and reasons.
Sarah Jane Smith was one of the best companions throughout the television series, and therefore it's surprising that since the BBC began publishing Doctor Who books that she hasn't featured at all apart from a cameo appearance in 'Millennium Shock' and her role in 'Interference.' McIntee gets her character right and shows her doubts about this version of the Doctor well so they come across as very believable.
A lot seemed to happen in this novel and although this was adequately explained throughout, it did give the book a very cluttered feel. Perhaps if it had been a little longer then this could have been avoided. There are some interesting characters throughout the book and it's good to see a different branch of UNIT to the regular British version with the appearance of UNIT-SEA. It was a shame that some poor editing marred the book slightly (witness the Lieutenant who becomes a Captain a few pages later with no explanation for the promotion) but aside from these minor complaints, there wasn't much wrong with this book.
'Bullet Time' is an worthy novel which is certainly McIntee's best BBC book since 'The Face Of The Enemy.' The Seventh Doctor PDA books have frequently been disappointing, but this one doesn't disappoint. With an intriguing plot and some good characterisation, David A. McIntee has produced a very readable book which I enjoyed.


Babylon 5: Summoning Light (Babylon 5 (Paperback Ballantine))
Babylon 5: Summoning Light (Babylon 5 (Paperback Ballantine))
by Jeanne Cavelos
Edition: Mass Market Paperback

1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Superb..., 19 July 2001
With the confirmed return of the Shadows, the Circle that rules the techno-mages have decided that to fight them is too costly, and the only option for them to survive is to go into hiding. A decision which doesn't go down well with Galen whose rage is building within him as he seeks to take revenge against those that caused the death of his fellow mage Isabelle. But with agents of the Shadows seemingly everywhere, a daring plan is formed to ensure the survival of the mages, but at what price will this plan succeed?
Following almost immediately on from the first book in this trilogy, Casting Shadows, Jeanne Cavelos' latest entry into the Babylon 5 universe is yet another masterpiece, bettering even the quality of the first of The Passing Of The Techno-Mage Trilogy. Set over a very short space of time, Summoning Light continues the Techno-mage story, and also reveals that there was far more to the B5 episode, The Geometry Of Shadows, than anyone ever imagined.
Whereas there is the bigger picture of the techno-mage's involvement with the start of the Shadow War, Summoning Light is very much the story of both Elric and Galen. Elric, the strong member of the Circle who have guided the mages for centuries, and his protégée - the headstrong Galen, wracked with guilt and doubt about himself and the mage with the deadly spell of destruction. Cavelos characterises both of these characters superbly well and she brings something to them beyond that which was seen of both of them in Babylon 5 and in Crusade. But although these two are the main characters, and dominate the story, the other characters are equally well drawn and memorable.
Cavelos' pacing of the story is tremendous, and combined with the quality of her writing it made this book impossible to put down as it races towards it's shocking conclusion. Once more the universe of Babylon 5 is brought back to life vividly in great style, Summoning Light is a book that I cannot recommend highly enough. It is a book of epic proportions which should be read and enjoyed.
If the conclusion of The Passing Of The Techno-Mages is as good as Casting Shadows and Summoning Light have been, then Invoking Darkness will be a fitting end to this wonderful trilogy.


When The Sacred Ginmill Closes (Matt Scudder Mystery)
When The Sacred Ginmill Closes (Matt Scudder Mystery)
by Lawrence Block
Edition: Paperback

7 of 8 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Block does it again, 5 Oct 2000
"When The Sacred Ginmill Closes" sees Matt Scudder back in action in New York City. Unusually for the Scudder series, it is told in flashback although only at the start and the end.
Scudder is asked to find the robbers of an after hours drinking club, and from this a story errupts concerning a bartenders stolen books and the murder of the wife of one of Scudder occasional drinking partners.
This is an important novel in the Scudder series as it sees a transition from the alcoholic Scudder to the non drinking one of the later novels. This marks a change in direction of the series, and develops the character in an interesting manner.
Lawrence Block's writing is as superb as ever, wiht every sentence sparkling with quality. The plot is believable and progresses at a quick pace. The only criticism of this novel is that the resolution seems be a little easy.
Overall, another fine Lawrence Block novel, and another good entry in the Matt Scudder series. But does Lawrence Block ever write a bad book?


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