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Justin Richards is an accomplished writer of Doctor Who novels; his works are always detailed in their continuity of the Doctor’s travels, well characterised, even when writing of established characters such as the well-known companions, and his stories are always interesting enough to exist outside of the Doctor Who realm as great novels themselves. This book was originally published in 1996, and has been republished in 2014 as part of the Monsters Collection of books.

In the great 1975 story Pyramids of Mars, the audience was introduced to Professor Marcus Scarman, an Egyptologist who in 1911 finds a pyramid inscribed with the Eye of Horus; but the Fourth Doctor and Sarah Jane Smith are involved in that story, which involves the resurrection of the Osiran Sutekh who had been defeated and imprisoned centuries earlier by the Osirans.

The cover of this book, Sands of Time, features one of the servitor robots wrapped in mummy-like wrappings which were featured heavily in the Pyramids of Mars story, so the reader, if he/she is aware of the earlier story, knows that this is likely to feature the Osirans once again. A story heavily drenched in Egyptology, archaeology and mysteries of the desert and sky. And we are not disappointed. The Fifth Doctor, Nyssa and Tegan land in a museum in 1896 and Nyssa disappears. But before that happens, the reader has been introduced to several inexplicable times and events – Egypt c. 5000 BC, Giza in Egypt 1896, Oxfordshire 1926 and London 1965. What could all these seemingly unrelated events and timeframes possibly have in common; and how could they be related to what has befallen Nyssa? Well, that’s the beauty of this story – even the Doctor is baffled to start with, as it seems that he and his companions may have arrived in the middle of their own story. Unravelling it all, and finding out what other Earth-threatening mysteries still remain for the Doctor to resolve, forms the narrative of this story. It is very timeline intensive, as people, events and timelines cross all over the place, so the reader must kept their wits about them. But at the end, we are satisfied that, once again the Doctor has put all things right in the universe for another day; and he, Nyssa and Tegan depart in the Tardis once more. And on Earth a new member joins the Royal Society in London; Professor Marcus Scarman.
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on 26 July 2015
What should be a potentially interesting story spanning centuries, referring back to the excellent pyramids of mars Tom Baker story, and involving the doctor moving back and forth in time, was sadly for me actually a fairly tedious bore most of the time. Too much padding left me just wading through, waiting for the story to actually progress from the original idea. I guess the main problem is that it just doesn't grip, so you never get immersed. The outcome is inevitable so there is no real suspense, you are just waiting to get there. The characterisation of the doctor and his companions is ok, but not enough to maintain interest in the absence of a gripping story. And what is it with authors that they always leave Nyssa in a coma or incapacitated in stories that involve her?! I wouldn't bother with this one.
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on 21 March 2014
One of the best things about this Monster Collection range is that includes the republication of several out of print and hard to find books, this being one of them. For many years the ‘Sands of Time’ was only available at an exorbitant cost or as a PDF from the BBC Doctor Who website. Seeing as this is one of the best Fifth Doctor novels this seemed a terrible shame. It is a good thing that it is now possible to obtain a copy.

Effectively the novel is a sequel to the excellent ‘Pyramids of Mars’ (although, oddly, it also works as a prequel as well). Sensibly (because Sutekh’s story felt completed in a satisfactory way), Richards, doesn’t take the obvious path in bringing Sutekh back for another confrontation with the Doctor. Making use of Egyptian mythology he instead opts to focus on Sutekh’s sister, Nephthys (the sister wife of the Egyptian god of death, Seth). As such the plot follows her efforts to escape from where Horus imprisoned her mind. Thus the story is sufficiently different in style and content from ‘Pyramids of Mars’ but maintains enough elements to be reminiscent of it.

Nephthys is more of an ominous presence in the background throughout, leaving the action to the Egyptian High Priest, Rassul, and more of the famous, mummy disguised, service robots. Hence she doesn’t leave an impression as memorable as Sutekh. The service robots/mummies inevitably fulfil a similar role to before and little more. But they are undoubtedly one of the most impressive of ‘lumbering’ monsters. I’m not sure if they are the ‘monster’ that earns a place in this collection or whether it is the Osirians. Most likely it is both.

The Fifth Doctor is characterised very well and Richards has captured the essence of Peter Davison’s performance. Tegan is also pretty accurate and has a lot to do within the novel. This is mainly because Nyssa spends most of the novel out of the action. Despite being a major part of events there is actually very little of Nyssa in the story. Much of the secondary companion role is fulfilled by Atkins who has his own quite charming little sub-plot as well.

Most of the other characters are what might be expected from an ancient Egyptian themed story. They consist of eminent Egyptologists and archaeologists and their families or those that work for them. They all help to create a believable impression of late Victorian/early Edwardian England and the popular trend for Egyptian antiquities during this period.

This is an exceptionally well written and thought out novel and it is wonderful to see it back in print. And the last line is a great ending.
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on 4 March 2016
I am looking forward to reading the book as I enjoyed pyramid of mars on TV the book arrived today would recommend to buy from hillhouse books
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The Sands of Time is a follow-up to the classic Doctor Who television story Pyramids of Mars. Featuring the Fifth Doctor, Tegan and Nyssa it sees the TARDIS team attempting to stop the reincarnation of Nepthys, sister and wife of Sutekh. Early in the story Nyssa disappears, so the Doctor and Tegan find themselves dashing from one time period to another in order to find her before she suffers a grisly fate in the service of Nepthys.

Richards' story is quite complex, but ultimately the threads do connect to provide a satisfying conclusion. The Doctor is well characterised, and it's easy to picture Peter Davison performing this - as the Doctor is breathless, inquisitive and endearing, just like the best of Davison's television stories. This means that The Sands of Time must stand as one of the best attempts to capture the spirit of the Fifth Doctor in print. Tegan also comes off well, less whiny and irritable then her earlier TV appearances, this is the more mature Tegan of S20 who by that time was more accepting of the Doctor.

The supporting characters are a little indistinct, but with such a good time-bending story and well-written regulars, this isn't too much of a problem. Particularly recommended for fans of the Davison Doctor, this is well worth a read.
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on 20 August 2014
My draw to this book was that it would feature the Osiran mummies. This meant there was a high expectation given how good the pyramids of Mars is. This story lives up to that. The story keeps moving at a good pace and the multiple timeline threads add to a level of mystery.
The fifth doctor feels right in this story as do his companions and the guest characters feel well fleshed out.
I really enjoyed this book and would recommended it to anyone who like me is looking for new classic doctor stories
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on 12 August 2014
A very cleaverly written Doctor Who novel. I loved the references to Pyramids of Mars and Black Orchid.The Doctor and Tegan and Nyssa were written perfectly.I liked the story of accient eygpt told between the main story and the amazing twist at the end..The entire story took you through the ages of time..Briliant writing..I would definataly recommend this brilliant book to any hard core Doctor Who fan.
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on 28 May 2014
A good story for the fifth doctor, with a tie in to a fourth doctor story. Good twist towards the end. The story kept me hooked and is a must for doctor who fans, especially those who enjoy the classics.
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