This is the fifth in the series of Missing Adventures, stories which tell of adventures of one of the previous Doctor’s incarnations and their companions. In this case, the story features the Sixth Doctor, as played by Colin Baker, and his companion Peri, as played by Nicola Bryant. The story takes place between Revelation of the Daleks and Trial of a Time Lord.
The story takes place in Ancient Rome; but it’s an Ancient Rome which is not like the one in the history books. The Doctor and Peri find themselves in a world that’s familiar, yet different in respects that seem to portend someone has been messing about with history. Or have they slipped into another time line? Peri finds that that a legacy from her time on Varos with the Doctor in an earlier adventure comes back to haunt her; or is it a blessing? And the Doctor must stay alive and on the right side of not one, but three potential rulers of Ancient Rome and Egypt – Cleopatra Selene, Ptolemy Caesar and Alexander Helios. While they fight for the ultimate supremacy, are they missing the real battle that’s going on around them?
This is a really good Doctor Who story. It has the familiarity of the Doctor, and he is here portrayed here very empathetically, showing great compassion towards Peri and those who he tries to help; and of Peri, whose humanity shines through in every action and word in this story. The author has placed these familiar and welcome characters in a very unfamiliar environment, but one which has hints of familiarity to the history of Earth. What does it all mean? Peri and the Doctor must find out, and the reader is taken along with them on a journey that is filled with well-written characters, larger than life landscapes and environments, exotic creatures and high stakes. Along the way they are going to meet up with an old foe; one who also plays for high stakes, and this is woven into the story very cleverly and in a way that feels ‘right’ to the reader familiar with the Doctor Who universe. Definitely a great Missing Adventure, by a very talented Doctor Who author.
on 22 September 2007
Having read a number of the Missing Adventures series I think this is the best by far. This is mainly because it is so true to the original series and doesn't try to be too complex, thus avoiding the trap of becoming too bogged down in jargon or 'Who lore'. The only slightly jarring aspect is that The Sixth Doctor is not nearly as brash and abrasive as his TV counterpart - he is unfailingly 'nice' throughout the novel and this doesn't quite ring true if you've seen Colin Baker's television portrayal.
The gist of the story is that The Doctor and Peri find themselves in Ancient Egypt circa 41BC witnessing Cleopatra's famous passage along the Nile. As they dematerialize, an alien presence hitches a ride and when they arrive in Ancient Rome they are appalled to discover electricity generation, airships, radio and other anachronistic discoveries...
Set between the TV stories 'Revelation of the Daleks' and 'Trial of a Time Lord', 'State of Change' is a fast-paced all-action adventure reminiscent of the best 70s and 80s TV stories. Chris Bulis draws likeable characters, exotic locations and well-thought-out dialogue and produces a cracking yarn; filled with gladiatorial encounters, manipulative rulers, bumbling tomb-robbers and to top it all, One of The Doctor's most understated enemies...what more could a reader ask for?