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Doctor Who: The Burning Mass Market Paperback – 7 Aug 2000
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One of an original series for the Eighth Doctor. 19th-century progress has left Middletown behind and a crack has opened across the moors that the locals believe reaches into the depths of Hell itself. Only one man can stop the burning.
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`The Burning' by Doctor Who luminary Justin Richards was one of the first classic Doctor Who novels I read. Having read the graphic novel collections of Scott Gray's run on the Eighth Doctor in Doctor Who Magazine, and established a firm image and characterisation of one of the most complex and deeply passionate, humanised, incarnations of the Last of the Time Lords, I was wholly unprepared for diving into where it all began.
`The Burning' reinvents and reinterprets the Doctor Who mythos, heralding a new beginning in the Doctor's life, and readers alike. The Doctor here is a blank slate: a chance to be someone else, to be human for once. No longer does the Doctor have to `act' human, or project a human side, so as to not alienate the human companions that have taken up so much of his lifetimes, filling the long periods of loneliness in his long life. He can finally form human relationships, experience human love and loss, as is explored in the subsequent `Earth Arc' as it has become known. By cutting the cord to Gallifrey, and thus the weighted burden of his Time Lord responsibilities, the Doctor can finally adopt Earth as his home-from-home. He has become a blood-brother to the human race. He is a fallen angel seeking redemption for the sins of his tumultuous and tenebrous past. To quote show-runner Steven Moffat: "I think of the Doctor as an angel that aspires to be human".
I highly recommend `The Burning' for anyone interested in not only one of the more fascinating periods in Doctor Who's history, but for anyone who is interested in finding out what it's all about. It's a perfect place to start. You don't need to know anything about the character or his history: that's something for you both to discover (or re-discover) together.
As the first book of a new arc, The Burning is a reasonable enough beginning, steeped in mystery and mysticism. In hindsight, it reads like a Hammer horror film - and Peter Cushing's Doctor might have been better suited for the main role (if spiked with a little less grandfatherliness and more monster-mashing chutzpah), with Christopher Lee as Nepath. This is the sort of horror tale that sees people killed because they seem to lack the commonsense and balance to know when and how to run.
At times it feels sluggish, in that I felt the need to move on, peeking ahead through the pages to see what lay ahead. The Earthbound environment, following a lot of stories on aliens worlds, or in alien times, may be at fault for making me feel that way. However, the need to forge ahead and see what happens next seems to have had something to do with the engaging storyline and the loathsome characters - so, it comes recommended.
This is our first look at the "new" Doctor and my is it impressive. The writer's guidelines say that the Doctor should be viewed through the eyes of others to remain an engima, and this is one of the few times I've seen it work well. Without giving us a single look inside his head, Richards paints a picture of a very complex man; intelligent and incisive and compassionate, yet also rather detached. The ending - to give away nothing - is a powerful scene simply because it's the last thing you'd have expected the the "old" Doctor to do. I wouldn't have minded seeing more of this character.
Overall, this is a gripping book from start to finish, with great characters and a storyline that actually makes sense. (Although they never did explain the link between the TARDIS and the Burning.) Buy it. Read it. You won't be disappointed!
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the doctor having lost his memorys lands in the past where he encounters someone who sees fire as a god the plot drags from the start it takes over 90-100 pages...Read more