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VINE VOICEon 13 May 2011
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
This is an important Doctor Who story in that it introduces us to the fifth Doctor and it is delightful and surprisingly modern in the scope and the importance placed on the companions to help the Doctor.

Firstly, the plot: the newly regenerated Doctor escapes with his companions back to the TARDIS. Suffering from post-regeneration trauma, he only narrowly manages to save the ship from destruction as it plunges back to Event One, the hydrogen in-rush that preceded the creation of the universe.

He then seeks sanctuary in the peaceful domain of Castrovalva, only to discover it is an illusory, dimensionally paradoxical trap set for him by the Master with the unwilling aid of a kidnapped Adric. The Doctor eventually wins the day by enlisting the help of the Castrovalvan people who, although also part of the Master's creation, are nevertheless able to exercise free-will.

The story is an interesting one and a rare introduction to a Doctor that allows for a stimulating and original story. Of course, there are issues with it. It follows directly on from Logopolis which saw the Master kill the fourth Doctor. Therefore, the Master had no way of knowing the Doctor would survive his fall from the radio telescope at the end of Logopolis, and yet he is already prepared at the beginning of this sequel to kidnap Adric and trap him within a web of power. Using Adric's mathematical skills, he then causes the Doctor's TARDIS to travel back to the very start of the universe, where he fully expects the Doctor to be destroyed. Even as the TARDIS veers away from Event One, Tegan however, discovers yet another trap - a reference to Castrovalva (a fictional construct by the Master) planted in the TARDIS's index file. This tends to suggest the Master actually expects each of his plans to fail, arguably diminishing the threat posed by him. However, in all fairness Christopher H. Bidmead, the author, has fashioned an interesting story and given the years the Master has been defeated by the Doctor it is hardly surprising he would consider backup plans for any eventuality.

Like the previous story Logopolis, Castrovalva is a complex, imaginative and thought-provoking story with very interesting concepts. Bidmead's writing style is incredibly engaging, blending absorbing and memorable ideas with strong scientific and philosophical concepts in a thoroughly entertaining manner. This is something most writers would balk at but Bidmead does this with fine aplomb.

The first half of the story is very self-contained, concentrating solely on the Doctor and his companions in the TARDIS and the effects of the Doctor's regeneration and while short on incident it benefits from giving a good insight into the characters and exploring the interior of the TARDIS. The element of focusing on the Doctor's regeneration and how the companions cope with this is remarkably modern and allows engagement with proceedings, which is a good thing given the concepts (entropy, recursion and free-will) which are certainly interesting but some will undoubtedly find rather dry.

The second half picks up the pace with the arrival in Castrovalva and the complex trap set for the Doctor. The way Bidmead describes the town of Castrovalva and the measured realisation all is not as it seems is very cleverly done and hugely satisfying.

All-in-all, this is a very good story to listen to and enjoy but Peter Davison's reading is astonishingly not as engaging and absorbing as Bidmead's reading of Logopolis. Bidmead really got into the drama and characters which allowed for a pleasurable listen. Although Davison does a good job his straight delivery does make the drama feel rather lacking.

If you are a big fan of Doctor Who then this is certainly for you, otherwise I would suggest getting another audio story as there are far more gripping audio experiences than this one.
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on 10 August 2010
Like the previous story Logopolis, Castrovalva is a complex, imaginative and thought-provoking story with some very interesting concepts but is probably not the most accessible story for casual viewers/listeners. I adore Christopher H Bidmead's writing style, it often goes off on little tangents but it has the effect of making the story more absorbing and memorable and he has a great way with words, and an impressive vocabulary and clearly a good scientific knowledge. The first half of the story is very self-contained, concentrating soley on the Doctor and his companions in the TARDIS and the effects of the Doctor's regeneration and while short on incident it benefits from giving a good insight into the characters and to exploring the interior of the TARDIS better than has ever been done before or since. The second half picks up the pace with the arrival in Castrovalva and the complex trap that has been set for the Doctor. The way Bidmead describes the town of Castrovalva and the slow realization that all is not as it seems is very cleverly done and hugely satisfying.
The fifth Doctor himself, Peter Davison, reads this story and does an exellent job of it. His voice is quite similar to Bidmead's, which makes this fit well with the previous audio of Logopolis which was read by Bidmead. Davison does the various characters well, especially the Master and although his voice now sounds a little older than when he was the Doctor he still has the character to a tee.
In short, Castrocvalva, along with Logopolis are, for my money, the two best Doctor Who novelizations ever written and these audios are also probably the best in the range so far. An essential purchase.
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Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
The Doctor has long had a troubled history of regenerating from one form to another, usually ending up either in hospital, near death or on the brink of madness, and it seems that he's not always so successful at changing from one medium to another either. With Peter Davison's newly regenerated ailing Doctor travelling to Castrovalva to recuperate, on television this was a decent introduction to the new Doctor - no classic, but with a fair amount of originality and ingenuity after some of the tired and overstretched stories at the tail end of Tom Baker's tenure. But while Peter Davison does a good job of reading Christopher H. Bidmead's novel adaptation of the four-parter, reduced to a single voice it's hard to hide the relative lack of drama in the first half or the loss of cleverly realised visual elements in the last episode, making it more for the Doctor Who completist who might get more out of the occasional moments that expand on the original than the casual listener.
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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 6 November 2012
Note this is a review of the novelisation by Christopher H Bidmead.

Having written Logopolis, the last story of the Fourth Doctor, it is appropriate that the same writer led from the `end' at Logopolis to the `beginning' of the Fifth Doctor at Castrovalva.

In this story, the new Fifth Doctor, somewhat befuddled after his regeneration, is taken by Nyssa and Tegan to Castrovalva to help him recover. But where is Adric? And why does Castrovalva not seem to be all that it appears?

This is a quite complex story, and was a good introduction to the Fifth Doctor played on the screen by Peter Davison. Tegan and Nyssa get to play important parts in the story, and Adric also has a role to play. The Doctor finds himself, as well as someone else not so welcome.
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on 1 March 2016
Personally I’ve always enjoyed the original televised version of ‘Castrovalva’. However, I can’t say the same for the novelisation which is quite a dull rendition of that seen onscreen. The writing lacks intensity and there is little emotional connection to the characters who often seem like irritating versions of themselves. At best this is a mediocre novelisation; at its worst it becomes very tedious.

The pacing struggles throughout the novelisation. Despite the dangers and perils faced by the characters the text plods along at the same unfaltering speed failing to create any atmospheric tension.

It seems to take much longer in the novelisation to reach Castrovalva and the build-up (which really can’t be classified as a ‘build-up’) to get there is incredibly slow. And when they do reach Castrovalva it all feels a bit anticlimactic.

To be fair, though, the settlement of Castrovalva loses something in the conversion process to novel. The visual impact of the Escher influence and the conjunction between semi-baroque architecture and parochial village life doesn’t come over as well. Somehow the rather uninspiring descriptions of the place lack the magic of the visual image.

There is little embellishment. What there is probably isn’t necessary. Admittedly, Tegan being able to fly the Tardis isn’t very well explained onscreen. The novelisation overcompensates for this though. Perhaps the author, who also wrote the original script, felt this was a serious flaw and sought to correct it. However, not to spoil/reveal the Master’s schemes too early we are ‘treated’ to two pages of Tegan tediously standing around the console with constant reminders that she doesn’t know what she’s doing. A couple of lines at most would have sufficed.
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on 27 July 2010
I got more enjoyment from listening to this than from the orginal televised episodes on the dvd.
The first disc especially was brilliant, with good sound effects and riveting storyline.

All of these audio releases so far have featured one of the orignial Target books covers; with the exception of Logopolis and Castrovalva and while I don't see why there was a need not to use one of the original covers for the Logopolis story, I can quite see why they chose not to for Castrovalva as neither of the two original Target covers for this story is worth replicating and if one of those had been used, I would not have felt at all inspired to purchase the audiobook. As it is, this cover did inspire me to buy, as it somehow manages to perfectly capture the lilac/pinkish greyish tinged tones of the televised story, depicting the 'healing' qualitites of the calm zero room and Castrovalva itself. - I know the cover shouldn't make a difference, and probably doesn't to some, but being a very visual person, it can strongly influence my decisiion to purchase something or not, and as Castrovalva was never a story I felt particularly inspired by, this was something of a feat, that I bought on the strength of the cover picture (as well as the fact that the story is read by Peter Davison, the 5th Doctor himself!) and, once having bought, was very surprised at just how enjoyable and satisfying this story is to listen to.
I could have done with a few more sound effects, but otherwise a most excellent audiobook. One of the very best I've heard so far. Peter Davison is a joy to listen to.
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on 24 August 2015
I missed the programme on transmission, so the whole adventure was a bit of a mystery to me.

All I had to go on were the viewmaster 3d slides and pictures from Doctor Who Monthly.

And this target book, which I found dense and slightly incomprehensible at the time, though I could tell that it was well written,

Eventually a friend gave me a copy of the audio soundtrack of the televised episodes, so Castrovalva was still a radio show as far as I was concerned, but it was starting to make a little more sense now.

I loved the cover and remember reading this paperback while round at my brother's house and listening to the SPACE INVADED: BBC SPACE THEMES vinyl album while doing so.

Eventually, upon my parents aquiring a video vhs player, I was finally able to see the show on it's official vhs release.

Finally, I could understand it!

This speaks more of my faltering intelligence than the cleverness of Bidmead's script or novelisation.

This is a quality book and well worth tracking down. Well written too.
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VINE VOICEon 7 April 2010
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
If you are nostalgic for the days of Peter Davison playing the Doctor, then I would recommend Castrovalva. If you are a newer fan then I would advise a little caution. The fact that this is the first adventure of the Fifth Doctor made the story exciting when it was first broadcast in 1982. Now we've got to know this incarnation better, the flaws in this story become clearer.

Castrovalva was written as a replacement for another story, Project Zeta Sigma, which proved unworkable. Perhaps this is why so much of the first two CDs feels like filler. It's only when the Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan arrive on Castrovalva (halfway through the story) that the pace picks up. There are some interesting ideas, but the final result is still lacking in thrills. The 'old enemy' that the Doctor encounters has a convoluted plan and lacks clear motivation, beyond just being evil for the sake of it.

Peter Davison reads the story well. His rendition of Tegan's Australian accent is more successful that Christopher H Bidmead's attempt in "Doctor Who": Logopolis (Classic Novels). This audio version of Castrovalva allows us to go deeper into the Doctor's thoughts, though we don't delve too deeply. The sound effects are sparse but effective. The prose contains some poetic flourishes - such as the climax of Disc 3 - but for the most part is unfussy and functional.

I would recommend Castrovalva if you are already a fan of Peter Davison's portrayal of the Doctor.
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VINE VOICEon 18 May 2010
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
There seem little point in reviewing the storyline here as there is a wealth of other reviews which do this very well. I will say that this is something of a marathon listen at 4 hours long on 4 discs. If for some strange reason you don't have the DVD then i guess that this is for you. Peter Davidson reads it well & it is good to hear his rendition of what was a favourite Who story of mine. However, I didn't really get anything that I couldn't get from watching it. I guess if you need a fix in the car of Who then this will do it. 5 stars simply because I really like the story & it is a great price.
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VINE VOICEon 28 March 2010
Format: Audio CD|Vine Customer Review of Free Product( What's this? )
Following on from Logopolis, Castrovalva was another ambitious piece of storytelling from Christopher H Bidmead, perhaps too ambitious at times for the screen. In book form however it's a splendid read, full of depth and strong characterisation - a good book full-stop, not just a good novelisation. The thoughtful pace and intelligent storyline turn this into a clever little mystery.

As an audio adaptation this is good stuff. Davison reads well and the sound is clear. Everything you could ask for. My only criticism is that the cover is somewhat lacklustre. I know the original had a dull photocover, but the 90s reprint cover art was rather nice and could have looked good. But this is a minor quibble. Overall, this kind of intelligent storytelling suits audio and is a wise choice for adaptation.
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