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8 of 8 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Gripping, thoughtful and moving,
By A Customer
A welcome return to form by this author, after the flawed, unsatisfying 8th Doctor novel The Domino Effect. Empire of Death is that rarity among the BBC's past Doctor novels - a book that matches or betters the stories amidst which it is set. A gripping yarn in its own right, this novel achieves the all too rare feat in print of giving neglected companion Nyssa some depth and personality. Empire of Death also neatly captures the essence of the 5th Doctor, as played on screen by Peter Davison. I won't spoil the story itself by giving away too many details, but it's a moving and thoughtful tale about Victorian attitudes to the death and the afterlife. There are some harrowing moments, but don't let them put you off. The 5th Doctor has been the worst served by BBC Books' output up to now - Empire of Death escapes the same fate with ease. Highly recommended!
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
5.0 out of 5 stars Nyssa's Journey and Queen Victoria,
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This is a lovely and one of the best Nyssa stories I've ever read!
'Empire of Death' is a BBC Past Doctor Adventure novel by David Bishop, featuring the Fifth Doctor and Nyssa. I bought this book as part of my sale on Amazon over Christmas 2011. I've read it recently and enjoyed indulging into another adventure with the Doctor and Nyssa.
Set between 'Time-Flight' and 'Arc of Infinity', this story takes place before the Big Finish audios with the Doctor and Nyssa. This is the only 'Doctor Who' book that features my favourite duo that I've been so familiar in the audios and is well-written by David Bishop who develops the characters.
The book is divided into eight lengthy chapters with a prologue at the start of the story. The prologue begins in 1856 with a young boy named James Lees before moving ten years on in 1863 with the Doctor and Nyssa meeting Queen Victoria and discovering a strange mystery.
The Doctor and Nyssa encounter a ghost of their dead friend Adric in the TARDIS. They arrive on Earth in 1853 and meet Queen Victoria who takes part in a séance to reunite with her dead Prince Albert. The mystery ends up in a Scotland village and the revelation is far more sinister...
I'm very pleased with how David Bishop enhances the characters of the Doctor and Nyssa in this story. He writes well for them and enhances the story with a historical setting as well as an intriguing plot of the Doctor and Nyssa discovering the afterlife and whether it's real or not.
The whole afterlife aspect of the story is very intriguing. It puts questions to the reader about whether there really is a life after death. I believe there's a life after death, and it certainly felt real with the Doctor and Nyssa and other characters meeting up with their dead loved ones.
This book has a creepy, ghostly feel to it. Having the story set in Victorian times with men, including the Doctor, in diving suits going underwater (according to the actual book cover) is very dramatic. I'm surprised this book wasn't chosen for the History Collection of 'Doctor Who' books recently.
The story also focuses on the Doctor and Nyssa coming to terms with recent losses. They grieve over the loss of Adric who died in 'Earthshock'. They also deal with the departure of Tegan who was left behind at Heathrow Airport in 'Time-Flight'.
Nyssa is my 'Doctor Who' favourite companion. I like the journey Nyssa goes through in this story and am very pleased with what David Bishop does with Nyssa, as he touches upon her anxiety; grieving and losing her father and home world of Traken that happened during the 'New Beginnings' trilogy.
The story has Nyssa writing a journal on her observations and analysis, and many sections of the story are written from her perspective. This makes part of the story feel like a Companion Chronicle, which I could hear lovely Sarah Sutton's voice narrating when reading the text in the story.
Nyssa reflects on her loneliness in the TARDIS through her journey, as she's coming to terms with loss of Adric and Tegan as well as the loss of her father and home planet. I enjoyed reading where Nyssa writes her journal entries as they're true to her character in the story.
There's a scene I like where the Doctor challenges Nyssa on not expressing remorse over the deaths of her family and friends. He diagnoses her with post-traumatic stress disorder and admits to having read her journal knowing her loneliness. This angers Nyssa when she confronts him.
The Doctor forces Nyssa to let her out emotions which is an unusual and quite a cruel thing for him to do. Nyssa gets angry and beats the Doctor with her first before breaking down and bursting into tears. It's a touching and moving moment, especially when the Doctor embraces Nyssa in a hug.
I like it when the Doctor and Nyssa discuss on the journey up to Scotland about whether there is an afterlife or not. It's a fascinating discussion and adds new light to their characters which I enjoyed reading. Nyssa hugs the Doctor at one point which I found very sweet.
I like the scenes where Nyssa is in the afterlife world and reunites her father Tremas on Traken and meets her mother Lucina. It transpires that her mother died during childbirth giving Nyssa life as Nyssa's physic abilities killed her. This adds more depth to Nyssa's family background in the story.
I also like it when Nyssa interacts with the supporting characters like James, the young boy who can speak with voices of the dead. I also like Nyssa interacting with Mary the servant at Windsor Castle, and her reaction to Victorian attitudes such as bathing; clothing and interacting with the male sex.
Queen Victoria makes an appearance in the story. This takes place before the Tenth Doctor meets her in 'Tooth and Claw' in 1879. I like how the Queen's grief is touched upon over the loss of her husband Prince Albert and how she deals with it during the events of this story.
She meets the Doctor and Nyssa, and makes the Doctor her scientific advisor when investigating this 'strange phenomena' of contacting the dead in the afterlife. This is quite a different interpretation of Queen Victoria compared to the version in the TV series of 'Doctor Who' recently.
I like the rest of the supporting characters as they're strong and really well-developed in the story. The characters that come to mind include James Lee; General Doulton and Sergeant Vollmer. They all have interesting character twists as things aren't what they seem in the story.
I like the last scene with the Doctor and Nyssa in the TARDIS reflecting on their experiences in the afterlife world and the Doctor checking on how Nyssa feels. Nyssa assures him she's alright; unconvinced by his previous diagnosis on her, but want to have a hug from him which is sweet.
The book contains at the end some historical notes by David Bishop on places and characters featured in the story. There is also an acknowledgements page by the writer and blurb/synopsises for upcoming 'Doctor Who' books including 'Scream of the Shalka' and two Eighth Doctor stories.
I would love it if 'Empire of Death' was adapted into a Big Finish audio drama. I'm sure it's a story that Peter Davison and Sarah Sutton would enjoy doing. I wonder who they'd cast for Tremas in the story. Would they get Pauline Collins to play Queen Victoria in this story from the TV series?
I'd also love it if they did a BBC audiobook reading of 'Empire of Death' and would love it if Sarah Sutton was the narrator. It certainly suits Nyssa's character especially with her journal entries if Sarah became narrator and she's got a clear lovely voice from doing the Big Finish audios.
'Empire of Death' has been a fantastic book to read. I'm very pleased with the Doctor and Nyssa's character development in the story and David Bishop writes a gripping plot. Reading this book made me imagine hearing Peter and Sarah's voices as the Doctor and Nyssa in the story.
The next story for the Doctor and Nyssa is 'The Land of the Dead'.
1 of 1 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Empire of Death - not Glasgow,
By A Customer
David Bishop captures both the feel of mid-Victorian Britain and the essence of the Fifth Doctor in Empire of Death. At times the first half of the book moves at a sedate pace, punctuated by the odd burst of action, but it picks up in the latter part.
Where this book does score highly is in its treatment of the 5th Doctor and companion Nyssa. The Doctor's portrayal is one of the more accurate ones in tune with Peter Davison's tenure as the Time Lord; he is often at the scene of the action, but more often as an observer than an active participant. Nyssa's character receives some much needed attention and depth; as this is the first novel to feature her as a sole companion, she is not overshadowed by the presence of Tegan. The author deals sympathetically with the Trakenite's feelings about the loss of her family, home world and her TARDIS friends, something most screen and book writers have left alone.
There are some plot holes that irritate, and minor characters who do not convince, and these are the only reasons why I don't allow Empire of Death a 5-star rating.
4.0 out of 5 stars Bishop finally delivers the goods!,
It's a case of third time lucky as David Bishop finally delivers a quality BBC Doctor Who novel. For the most part this is an effective supernatural adventure, as the 5th Doctor and Nyssa attempt to find out what lies submerged beneath a flooded valley. The involvment of Queen Victoria requires a high suspension of disbelief, but the supporting characters are well drawn and believable. The novel slightly goes off the boil in the last moments, when it turns into a series of rather predictable action set-pieces as the expense of developing the revealed inhabitants of the 'afterlife', but all in all this is an enjoyable read.
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Empire of Death (Doctor Who) by David Bishop (Paperback - Mar. 2004)
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