on 4 May 2009
Back cover blurb:
The TARDIS has finally brought the Doctor and Sam back to Earth - and straight into danger.
It is 1963. Six very different people have been gathered together for study by parapsychologist Charles Roley in his stately home outside London. All of them claim to have been possessed by the devil, and all have shared similar delusions - they describe the same bizarre 'death cave' riddled with demons.
Roley's experiments are having a gradual yet terrifying effect on his subjects, and the Doctor and Sam discover the connections between those tainted with the madness are more disturbing than anyone could guess.
For the Doctor, too, has seen the cave they describe - on a dead world, billions of years ago.
The Taint is an Earthbound Eighth Doctor adventure that introduces the laddish but troubled Londoner 'Fitz'. The story is pretty middle of the road really; it sags a little in the middle but then picks up at the end. Michael Collier has created an interesting companion in the form of Fitz, but doesn't really seem to know what to do with him; hopefully future writer's will improve on this.
on 31 October 2013
The Taint is an Eighth Doctor adventure which introduces Fitz Kreiner to the TARDIS crew. It's author, Michael Collier was previously responsible for the almost universally despised Longest Day, so he has a lot of ground to make up.
The novel kicks off by introducing us to Muriel Kreiner who is having weird dreams involving a cave and is being looked after by Professor Roley. We are also introduced to her son Fitz, who is working for Mr Roley, but has dreams of far more. The Doctor and Sam then arrive and get caught up with another of Roley's patients and meet Roley and Fitz. It soon becomes clear that Roley is treating numerous patients for the same reason, odd dreams of caves and a fear of the devil. Rather unsurprisingly it turns out the patients are all hosts for an alien leech trying to fight another enemy called the Beast. From this point on the novel gets a little bit silly with not a lot of what happens being explained satisfactorily which detriments the novel greatly.
Parts of The Taint are brilliantly done, the 1963 setting, the early days in Roley's home and the issue of mental health but it does descend into something not quite right at around the halfway mark. Luckily the introduction of new companion Fitz saves the novel.
Fitz is instantly entertaining and a far cry from the goodie goodie Sam. He possesses a boyish charm and a likeability despite being socially awkward thanks to his mum's mental state. He works well with Sam, with a mutual attraction between them, but also works well with the Doctor which is good seeing as he lasts until the end of Eighths tenure. I also like the comedy aspect Fitz brings to proceedings.
The TARDIS crew needed shaking up as Sam just doesn't work as a companion. Companions are meant to be the readers eyes/ears and we need to relate to them, however she just irritates and alienates readers more often than not. The Scarlett Empress added Iris Wildthyme to the mix temporarily and instantly Sam was bearable, I was hoping it would be the same with Fitz which it is, with Sam seemingly caring more about her feelings for Fitz rather than finding something to campaign against.
The Doctor is done very well, Collier's portrayal in Longest Day was one of the saving graces of that novel and he's carried it on here. All the compassion, and the boyish charms are there, along with a fierce intelligence and world weary demeanour. It's also good to see him fallible.
The Taint features quite a large number of supporting characters which Collier tries to build up a backstory on which untimely fails. It worked for Lawrence Miles in Alien Bodies but here it felt forced. I also felt the alien menace was a fairly good concept, but one executed poorly. A lot of the technobabble behind it made little to no sense, and at times I still didn't fully understand why something was happening and just went with it.
The Taint is a fairly atmospheric novel which deals with the difficult subject of mental health well. It could have been as depressing as Longest Day, but the introduction of Fitz to the TARDIS crew makes for some light hearted moments, which are a welcome break from the dark storyline. Whilst not as polished, nor as entertaining as other novels in the range, it does the job of introducing Fitz well and presents a fairly decent story to go with it. I'd call it a must read for fans of the series for the introduction of Fitz alone.
on 24 February 1999
For a novel written to introduce a new companion, it could have been better, but it serves it's purpose. It's 1963, and there are strange things happening on Earth. People are sharing a dream about a mysterious cave. One of these is the mother of Fitz, the aforementioned companion. He's a bit of a lad, but with a troubled past. Unfortunately, the novel seems to take too long to get going, throws a few revelations at you, then stumbles to a conclusion. I think this book suffers from being released at the same time as the much better "Wages of Sin", and in another month might have fared better.
on 16 March 2003
i like the way, so far, that the eighth doctor series of books has returned to the shows TV history to find new companions (sam in totters yard, coal hill and now fitz in 1963) - and i think it's worked well - as an introduction for a new character this book is very good - although you never get a crystal clear description of fitz you can picture him very well (as a kind of real-life dylan the rabbit), although i have to comment that if by the first page of her written life, you didn't know that sam was small with short blonde hair then you've obviously not been reading - a little sexist perhaps?? the other plot? hmmmmmm well i think i'd would've much rather watched this story than read it, as i feel the scenes with the "mad" people at roley's, potentially, were terrifying, what clouded it a little for me was what was actually behind their madness - in the end i think the same explanation could've been got across with much less complexity - that said though, i enjoyed the book and was glad to have got hold of it (after much trying!!) - not a NECESSARY read as an introduction to fitz - i read THE TAKING OF PLANET FIVE a couple of years ago out of sequence and although i hated the book (my own fault i know for not waiting) i did really like fitz, so i'm glad i've been formally introduced to him now