on 12 April 2000
There were only a few problems I had with this Fourth Doctor story set during the "Key to Time" series. The first was it really didn't feel like a Fourth Doctor tale. Some of the scenes in this book were so bizarre that you had to put it down and say, "What the heck! ". The other was the portrayal of the Doctor. Most of the writers tend to overly portray the Fourth Doctor as an imbeccilic clown. Although, he is very well known for his "Teeth and curls" I would love to see a writer go deeper into the Fourth Doctor's character. Now onto the good. Besides those pretty minor flaws, I thought there were alot of interesting ideas in the book. The Doctor has to put his mission for the White Guardian on hold as he and his new companion Romana accidentally stumble apon a expedition led by a mad man to open a tomb and release an ancient god known as Valdemar. If this mad man is successful, the universe as we know it will cease to be. The author's portrayal of Romana is very good as he focuses on not only her annoyance of having to put up with the Doctor's eccentricities, but also learn how to cope with the life outside the comforts of Gallifrey. This books tends to be a bit slow at parts and the supporting characters tend to be on the annoying and unlikeable side, which could have possibly been the authors intentions. But if those set backs don't bother you in the least, I highly recommend you pick up this book. It not bad.
on 21 May 2014
Tomb of Valdemar is Simon Messingham’s second Past Doctor Adventure after the shockingly bad Zeta Major, so can he redeem himself? Many reviewers seem to think so, but whilst there is a marked improvement from Zeta Major, Tomb of Valdemar is just hard work.
The story of Tomb of Valdemar starts with just that, a story being told to some trappers. The story turns out to be the main plot of the book with regular flits back to the trappers being told the story. It doesn’t really work in honesty, and just serves to stop the flow of the action. Throughout the book Messingham has the characters critique the story they are being told, and the irony is the actual book falls prey to the same complaints.
Plot wise the Doctor, Romana and K9 have to break from finding the Key to Time to stop an ancient evil being unleashed. The trouble is the ancient evil isn’t real and the Doctor knows it, however it will cause the destruction of all life if allowed to go unchecked. Frustratingly nothing is clear cut, one minute Valdemar isn’t real, the next he is, then he isn’t again, but oh he’s real again. The technobabble to explain it all leaves a lot to be desired and a lot of the time you are left scratching your head. It’s not just Valdemar where inconsistencies lie, Neville and Hopkins merge into one creature for no real reason, and against all things we’ve previously been told in the book. Crew are turned into zombies without any real explanation as to why, yes they went mad but when did that make them immune to death? Tomb of Valdemar needs you to be able to gloss over glaring plot holes and cope with a constant stop/start of the story. Again Messingham has characters in the book critique this style so what possessed him to think it was a good idea?
The saving grace of Tomb of Valdemar is the 4th Doctor who is carried off rather well. His mannerisms and sparring with Romana fit with the era nicely and in honesty I’ve not seen the 4th Doctor written for so well. Talking of Romana it’s nice to see a PDA feature her, with the majority featuring Sarah or Leela, however she is side-lined for the majority of the novel, serving only as eye candy for Huvan before becoming possessed.
Supporting cast wise, Messingham doesn’t do well at all. The novelist Pelham flits between hard nosed hack and cowardly woman at random, both Neville and Hopkins are pure evil but bordering comical, and Huvan is just plain wrong. You can’t get behind any of them, and just want the Doctor to get on with his search for the Key to Time simply to meet some interesting people.
Tomb of Valdemar is an improvement on Zeta Major, but it still isn’t a great novel. The writing style is fairly irritating and the novel takes a long time to get going. Messingham has tried to be clever, but it ruined the book for me. Middle of the road.
on 15 November 2001
Pretty pointless and pedestrian story in which nothing much happens, nothing that makes any kind of sense anyway. A hugely promising beginning involving a horrific alien transformation in a tomb soon deteriorates into a load of rubbish about an insane necromancer, his gifted disciple and some mumbo-jumbo about the 'higher dimensions', which of course are never properly explained. Avoid, unless you want to risk being bored to death.
on 24 May 2003
I really enjoyed reading The fourth Doctor's adventure of Tomb of Veldemar with his companion, Romana First. I believe that the weakest point of the book is the ending itself. I am still confused about how Melinda Pelham has ended up to become someone beyond the human being herself.
Of course, Melinda was a main stroy teller of the Fourth Doctor and Romana First Her personal viewpoint of the Fourth Doctor was I believe a pretty accurate one. He was an Archetypal Fool in a way. I enjoyed his deep wisdom and funny wits hidden in his very eccentric behaviors. I am really impressed about Huvan who was a main key of the story of awaking up the Old One, Veldmar from the tomb. His powerful psychci man-child ambiguity was very well penned down on pages of this story.
I may finish my review before disclosing any plot.. Well I highly recommend it to anyone who loves Fourth Doctor and Romana First during the Key of Time series. It was one of best readings from BBC Past Doctor adventure series so far...