3 of 4 people found the following review helpful
Finally back in print,
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This review is from: Doctor Who: Sands of Time: The Monster Collection Edition (Doctor Who (BBC Paperback)) (Paperback)
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.