on 23 March 2014
From the synopsis that I read of this story, this sounded like a story unlike many other Doctor Who books in the BBC Books line. This sounded like a story that Trevor Baxendale had written and meant it to be a really dark and serious story. If that was the intention, it was achieved with flying colours.
Chronologically, the story takes place in 2009, during the year in which the 10th Doctor travelled with no companion. The Doctor ends up travelling with a small but fiery group of Dalek Bounty Hunters, after a Dalek attack. Whilst travelling with them, the crew ends up with the ultimate prize of a bounty hunter, a inactive Dalek prisoner. Against the Doctor's wishes, the crew slice through the Dalekanium casing in an attempt to try and interrogate the creature inside.
The interrogation takes place about a 1/4 of the way through the book and the writing is of platinum quality. We need to remember that the Daleks have haunted the Doctor all of his life and attempted to destroy his homeworld. Despite all of this, the Doctor is still able to find compassion for the Dalek and tries to stop the crew from torturing it. Even when the Doctor shows mercy for the creature, the Dalek is uninterested and simply tries to aggrevate the Doctor. Every line is one to be impressed by during these scenes.
After the now-dead Dalek reveals a hint about the Dalek Empire's plan, the Doctor and the crew travel to a planet destroyed by the Daleks. There, the Doctor discovers what they are up to. However, the Doctor and the crew also end up as prisoners of the Daleks. Part of the crew are taken as slaves. Some of the writing here reminded me of scenes from the 1979 story "Destiny of the Daleks". In both stories, we see the Daleks deliberately using humans to mine through the rocks, because they relish in seeing humans suffer.
Meanwhile, the Daleks bring in the members of the high council to deal with the Doctor. It is hear we are introduced to Dalek X. Trevor Baxendale's creation can definitely be seen as a deadly one, even the other Daleks tremble at Dalek X. At the end of the story, Dalek X is still able to remain cold and calculating. The ending of the story truly is one to ponder about and fits with the rest of the story.
In conclusion, Prisoner of the Daleks is a masterpiece from BBC Books, it truly is. I would go as far to say that I would have prefered to see this story televised compared to some other new series Dalek stories.
on 29 May 2009
In a series where the producers seem almost incapable of NOT using the Daleks at least once a year, I have strong hopes that this will be the only Dalek-themed story this year; not only does it neatly avoid another 'how they survived' explanation by having the Doctor arrive in the universe BEFORE the Time War, but it also clearly captures everything that makes the dynamic between the Doctor and the Daleks great.
With the Doctor alone against his greatest enemies and only a small group of bounty hunters available to help him, he finds himself once again pushed to his limits as his oldest enmies seek nothing less than access to the Time Vortex, their usual cold superiority made even worse by the introduction of Dalek X, a Dalek so evil that he actually has a REPUTATION on his own. The confrontations between the Doctor and Dalek X are excellent, the Doctor always pushed to the limits without ever giving the Daleks the satisfaction of seeing his fear, while simultaneously showing some very interesting means of eliminating the Daleks (Such as targetting their anti-gravity systems where the force fields are weakest), culminating in a confrontation where the Doctor states the reason that the Daleks always lose; every other life form is BETTER than them.
Indeed, the only problem with a story like this is simple; in a story where the Doctor arrives before the Time War, he never ONCE considers the possibility of contacting at least a few Time Lords to send them somewhere where they could wait until he got back to his universe to 'wake them up' (Or something)?
There are so many ways he could possibly save other Time Lords WITHOUT changing his own history, and he NEVER considers them; even if you assume that he's trying to protect the web of time, he should at least THINK about it....
No other race of beings have caused the Doctor as much pain as the Daleks. If they're not torturing him physically and emotionally, they're spreading their horror and destruction throughout the whole of creation, utterly relentless and unforgiving in their pursuit of total domination. No matter how many times they're defeated, they always return and survive to plague the Time Lord, his loved ones and the universe forever and ever. He lost his people and home world of Gallifrey to them in the Time War, he lost both his soul mate Rose Tyler and his best mate/big sister Donna Noble fighting them...
They are unquestionably his greatest enemies. Because as the Doctor himself has said, "They survive. They ALWAYS survive, while I lose everything."
In the 2009 series of Doctor Who novels, we have Prisoner of the Daleks by Trevor Baxendale. Taking place after the tragic Journey's End, this is set in the twilight year of the Tenth Doctor. For the first time in a long time, he is truly alone with no companion, friends or family to comfort him. With Davros, Caan and the Dalek race presently presumed completely destroyed, the Doctor finds himself trapped in a moment of history before the Time War. The Dalek Empire is rapidly growing in power, locked in fierce war with the human race. Before long, the Doctor finds himself caught-up in the conflict with a pack of Dalek bounty hunters...and a terrifying, insidious scheme that threatens to unravel everything the Doctor ever knew.
Hands down, Prisoner of the Daleks is the greatest Doctor Who novel I have ever read. There have been a lot of cracking tales in this series of hardbacks but Baxendale has delivered here in a way no other author has, and it's not just because the Daleks are here to whet fans' appetites. Baxendale has written a gripping and major story, complete with a total and faithful understanding of everything the word 'Dalek' means.
Aside from being action-filled, the novel is complete with plenty of tension, horrors and terrific scares. It's certainly one of the darkest and more violent Who novels that's been written and like any good Dalek story, there's tremendous pain, sacrifice and heartfelt losses for the Doctor and all involved as they try to overcome the raging, virtually invincible Dalek machine.
In terms of writing style, Trevor Baxendale is a real expert. His narrative and pacing are perfect. The plot and characters develop naturally and comfortably, gradually unravelling to reveal so many wonderful layers to everything present. It's a magnificent adventure that spans across the universe with the circumstances revealing all to be what they truly are. The journey is made all the more satisfying, thanks to Baxendale's brilliant vocabulary and dialogue, touching upon so much on morals and humanity, and some terrific, subtle references/nods to major notable events in Dalek history, like `Dalek', `The Dalek Invasion of Earth', `Genesis of the Daleks', `The Chase' and `Remembrance of the Daleks' (to name only a few).
The whole spirit of both the Doctor and the Daleks has been captured perfectly by the writer. Naturally, the Tenth Doctor is the heart and soul of the story and you can really feel for him here. Feeling so alone and longing for someone like Martha or Donna, knowing that his actions here before the Time War could jeopardize the future, his helplessness at times in face of the Daleks and his reluctant human allies, and his morals and ideals being sorely tested. Yet somehow managing to maintain his excellent humour and optimism, as well as being the courageous genius throughout who refuses to cave in.
The Daleks are once again shown to be the ultimate antagonists with their cold ruthlessness, their immense power and lethal ability, their dangerous cunning and intellect, and the enormous fascination they radiate. One can wonder how they could have been used so well for this story, but Baxendale has done just that. The plot is typical Dalek desire to conquer time and space, full of dark, credible machinations and high stakes. Even though the future is known, it doesn't alter the high stakes here in any way. As such, it makes the plot truly believable and more intense.
The Daleks' callous disregard for all non-Dalek life still makes them all the more despicable and effective villains. The reader will once again wonder how one survive, let alone stand against them. Baxendale also presents wonderful insights into more Dalek philosophy and individuality through Dalek X, the primary antagonist of the story that matches the same notoriety of the Dalek Emperor, the Supreme Dalek and the Cult of Skaro.
And finally, the supporting cast. The author has once again succeeded here, making each one of the Dalek bounty hunters someone to really care about. Jon Bowman, Koral, Cuttin' Edge, Scrum and Stella all have wonderful distinctive depth and identity to call their own. Each have their own chemistry and relationship with each other, the Doctor and the Daleks, making for some absolutely excellent interaction all-round. There are many heartbreaks as the story unfolds, which again speaks highly of Baxendale's ability to rattle the reader to the very core.
I can't fault this novel. I really can't. Doctor Who: Prisoner of the Daleks is absolutely essential for all fans. What makes the read even more amazing is that it makes one wonder what a televised version of this brilliant story would be like. I'd definitely be up for it. If you can only get ONE Doctor Who novel, it would have to be this one without any hesitation.
on 10 April 2010
Doctor Who books are usually very light and easy read for me, like simple adventures not been filmed. This book however is not like that. There's depth between the lines that I've never read in any other DW book before. It's also quite dark, very dark, shuddering even in places (young children may get scared). I couldn't put it down, turned page after page. All characters are excellently written and the plot very well woven. I was especially amazed at how spot on the Tenth Doctor is, his lines, gestures and reactions among the best I've ever encountered (TV episodes included). David Tennant would have had a challenge and a blast with such a script!
For me, an adult fan, this is so far the only DW book I look forward to reading over and over again. I cannot recommend it highly enough!
on 10 March 2014
This is a great Dalek tale, one of the best that is not based upon a televised story. The plot isn’t particularly original – the Daleks are being typical Daleks and the Doctor is incarcerated several times until he manages to outwit his foes and save the day. However, these things are done exceptionally well. The Daleks are best at their most threatening. In this novel they are deliciously deadly and malicious, particularly Dalek X (what a great name for a Dalek). The author portrays a might Dalek Empire that threatens to sweep across the universe.
But what is particularly good about this novel are the disturbing parallels it draws between how humans and Daleks both treat their prisoners of war. The author goes to some lengths to portray the Dalek’s evil nature. There are references to how they tune their guns to the most agonising setting and many examples of their callous treatment of their work slaves. Furthermore, Dalek X seems to take pleasure from interrogating and torturing his victims. But the Daleks’ treatment of their prisoners is really no worse than the way a group of predominantly human bounty hunters torture a Dalek.
The novel also gives us an example of the results of deploying an Osterhagen Key, which originally appeared in Stolen Earth/Journey’s End. It is a memorable and effective image and a shame we don’t get to see it on the television (that would involve some amazing CGI).
The author has the Tenth Doctor spot on. His allies in this novel are a group of bounty hunters that hunt down Daleks for a living. They are a ruthless, tough and varied bunch, and the Doctor doesn’t exactly approve of them. There are some well written characters amongst them and their leader, Bowman, has something of the Abslom Daak about him.
In many Doctor Who novels where the Doctor doesn’t have a regular companion with him he seems to adopt an honorary companion for the duration of the adventure. From almost the outset that seems to be the case with this novel. But this doesn’t work out and we are left with a situation where the Doctor can’t have the ally he wants and has to make do. This makes for an interesting change and says something about how the Doctor chooses companions.
Dalek X is a brilliant antagonist. He is a Dalek with a lot of presence and his own distinct character. There is some great dialogue between him and the Doctor and his role in the Dalek Empire as Inquisitor General possesses connotations of the Spanish Inquisition. He is definitely a Dalek who should somehow re-appear.
on 29 May 2009
This is the first new series noval to feature the daleks, apart from 'I am a Dalek', but this is many times more better.
Plot: The tardis jumps timetracks and the doctor ends up fighting the pre-time war dalek empire, with the whole of time at stake...
Of the novels that I've read, this is the best one. It's far more darker than the other novels, and the tv series for that matter. It has the daleks more as they were in the classic series. Evil, as in Nazi evil, and coming up with huge, complex scemes for Universal comquest. The interrigation scene is quite gruesome, and the are plenty of references to previous stories for the fans. There are, in my opinion, no drawbacks. Worth the money.
on 22 April 2009
The BBC line of books can often be quite frustrating for older readers, with a few notable exceptions. And thankfully Prisoner of the Daleks is not only one of those exceptions, it stands head and shoulders above them.
Prisoner of the Daleks finds the Time Lord thrown back into the Daleks past at the height of their war with Humanity. Set sometime after series 4, the Doctor now travelling alone and his isolation without a companion is a key element in the plot. He is taken in by a small team of Dalek bounty hunters who resent his presence aboard their ship. Also on board is a captured Dalek, whom the embittered captain decides to torture.
Writer Trevor Baxendale doesn't flinch from his portrayal of the Daleks brutality, or indeed the brutality of Humans in war, and there is a surprisingly dark tone throughtout the novel.
The Doctor's voice and his essential Doctor-ness (for want of a better term) is captured excellently, with Baxendale displaying an understanding of the character that can sometimes be sorely missed in these tie-ins.
In a nutshell, if you only ever buy one Doctor Who book, make sure it's this one!