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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Historical Adventure
I actually quite liked Asylum, it may not be among the best of the BBCs Doctor Who books, but is certainly an enjoyable adventure in the past. My largest complaint is perhaps the way that it starts out more like a modern historical than the traditional style - aliens in the past, rather than the purely historical Hartnell stories. Yet within 20 pages all this is...
Published on 26 Sept. 2008 by DB

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3.0 out of 5 stars Reasonably enjoyable, but not without it's problems...
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...
Published on 29 July 2001 by themarquisdecarabas


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2 of 2 people found the following review helpful
4.0 out of 5 stars Enjoyable Historical Adventure, 26 Sept. 2008
By 
DB (London, UK) - See all my reviews
This review is from: Doctor Who: Asylum (Mass Market Paperback)
I actually quite liked Asylum, it may not be among the best of the BBCs Doctor Who books, but is certainly an enjoyable adventure in the past. My largest complaint is perhaps the way that it starts out more like a modern historical than the traditional style - aliens in the past, rather than the purely historical Hartnell stories. Yet within 20 pages all this is seemingly forgotten, instead we end up with just a historical whodunnit (although a pretty good one!). Likewise at the end once the mystery has all been resolved some tedious and pointless philosophy ensues for absolutely no reason. Quite well written really, even if a little unoriginal. Something I had no problem with was the bringing back of Nyssa, I thought she worked quite well in the story - but why the fourth Doctor was used instead of the fifth I'm not so sure of. Yes it allows us to see an older Nyssa, but a later Doctor would save all the time paradox complications.
I didn't bother to read the essay at the end, it looked rather long and limited. From previous reviews it seems I missed nothing.
It does perhaps seem that Davill-Evans had a great short story idea, but failed in beefing that out into a standard Past Doctor Adventure. A fair enough read, quite an interesting Historical story, but it is lacking somewhat. The writer seems to have changed direction with the book several times, leaving some points very interesting, some points rather weak.
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3.0 out of 5 stars Reasonably enjoyable, but not without it's problems..., 29 July 2001
This review is from: Doctor Who: Asylum (Mass Market Paperback)
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.
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3.0 out of 5 stars 'The Name of the Rose' Doctor Who style, 20 May 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Doctor Who: Asylum (Mass Market Paperback)
The Doctor detects a temporal anomaly forming, and heads to its location - arriving in the House of Nyssa of Traken. Nyssa once travelled with the Doctor, but the Doctor who arrives is from a time before he met her! It seems that something bizarre is happening in regard to the accomplishments of Roger Bacon, and so the Doctor heads for Oxford in 1278, little realising Nyssa has stowed away...
Introducing a companion into a story out of sequence is not something that happens often in Doctor Who, and adds a level of complexity to this novel with Nyssa carefully avoiding giving anything away about the Doctor's future.
And herein lies the problem: why make a book more complex for no very good reason? Nyssa's presence adds little to the story, and she behaves in a way that is somewhat at odds with her established character. While we have seen her tired and frustrated before, we have never seen her give up on everything!
Nyssa aside, the story largely progresses as a mediaeval murder mystery (along the lines of 'The Name of the Rose' and various detective series set in mediaeval times), and is not a bad sample of that genre.
Peter Darvill-Evans includes a lengthy afterword entitled 'A History of Errors and Falsifications' in which he details the trials and tribulations of an author trying to be both historically accurate and readable at the same time.
Overall, I found this book a pleasant distraction, not overly challenging or earth shattering, but perhaps a novel that belongs better in another genre without the Doctor Who trappings.
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2.0 out of 5 stars weak book. great essay, 21 July 2006
By 
Paul Tapner (poole dorset england) - See all my reviews
(VINE VOICE)    (TOP 500 REVIEWER)   
This review is from: Doctor Who: Asylum (Mass Market Paperback)
The doctor meets nyssa. Before she joined the tardis. But for her it's after she left it.

They go off to investigate an historical mystery with a science fiction edge.

A nice idea.

But it doesn't work.

As soon as they get back into the past, the doctor leaves nyssa alone for nearly all the rest of the book. She has a few character moments, but if she's not involved in the story then what was the point?

The doctor resolves the situation. But only the historical one. The science fiction element goes nowhere.

So great history. Poor story.

However this gains an extra star for the essay at the back which is absolutely fascinating! But that's not what I buy these books for...
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2 of 3 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars A very poor Doctor Who book., 13 Jan. 2002
By A Customer
This review is from: Doctor Who: Asylum (Mass Market Paperback)
Not a very impressive Dr Who novel, in fact i'd say it was one of the worst. The book is about 25 pages shorter than the average.The two hundred and fifty or so pages that are there, include about thirty pages of waffle, (research & acknowledgements etc).
Nyssa is paired up with the fourth Doctor in what feels to be a very contrived manner. She then does very little until towards the end of the story, when she behaves in a manner that seems very out of character. Having decided that she wishes to die and wants the villain to kill her.
There are also several annoying occurances where the author seems to be using particular words for the sake of it, or to show how clever he is. As an example, the word destrier is used throughout the book. While it is obvious that this is a horse, what most people won't realise is that this is a warhorse. The author however, never sees fit to actually point this out.
The story is poor, as is the style. I was very dissapointed with this book indeed.
'Asylum' is the third book by Peter Darvill-Evans that i have read, it will also be the last.
My advice would be to save your money and spend it on a superior book, such as 'The shadow in the glass' or 'The year of intelligent tigers'.
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Awkward, unimaginative and un-Who-like, 4 Mar. 2008
By 
Mr. Stuart Bruce "DonQuibeats" (Cardiff, UK) - See all my reviews
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This review is from: Doctor Who: Asylum (Mass Market Paperback)
This is one of the weakest in the BBC novels series, for sure. The story is a fairly typical fourth Doctor-type tale, history is being messed with and the Doctor gets to go back in time and meet some famous old academics. The science fiction gives the basic framework then takes a back seat, as the main plot is mostly just run-about 'chase the book', 'where's he hiding?', 'oh no it's locked!' stuff, nothing particularly new there. I get the impression Darvill-Evans would be happier writing for something like Cadfael than Doctor Who.

The contrived way in which an older Nyssa manages to meet the fourth Doctor before she ever met him before is just rubbish. It's also totally unnecessary, as the character 'Nyssa' in the book has very little to do with the other portrayals of Nyssa and it would have been easier (as well as not a complete rewrite of the Dr Who timeline) to stick a new character in instead.

Worst of all is the thirty or so pages of 'research' at the end of the book in which the author gets the chance to directly talk to the reader about how clever he is, and how difficult it is to write novels set in the past. I found this section patronising in the extreme.

You can skip this one...
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1 of 2 people found the following review helpful
1.0 out of 5 stars Very disappointing, 30 Aug. 2001
By A Customer
This review is from: Doctor Who: Asylum (Mass Market Paperback)
Quick review: boring and tedious. 4Doc is barely adequate, but pairing him up with Nyssa before he meets her in the TV series is completely wrong. As a plot point it adds very little to the story, and worse off she comes off completely different from what I'd imagine her to be that many years later. Darvill-Evans would probably have been better off using a completely new character rather than bringing back an old. As for the murder mystery central to tbe plot, lets just say I saw through it almost as soon as it was introduced. The real purpose of the book, it seems, is for the author to display how much he knows about medieval society and thought. But mere knowledge do not a plot make.
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Doctor Who: Asylum
Doctor Who: Asylum by Peter Darvill-Evans (Mass Market Paperback - 7 May 2001)
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