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Doctor Who: War of the Daleks Paperback – 6 Oct 1997

4.2 out of 5 stars 17 customer reviews

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Product details

  • Paperback: 288 pages
  • Publisher: BBC Books (6 Oct. 1997)
  • Language: English
  • ISBN-10: 0563405732
  • ISBN-13: 978-0563405733
  • Product Dimensions: 2.5 x 11.4 x 18.4 cm
  • Average Customer Review: 4.2 out of 5 stars  See all reviews (17 customer reviews)
  • Amazon Bestsellers Rank: 387,325 in Books (See Top 100 in Books)

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4.2 out of 5 stars
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By Keen Reader TOP 50 REVIEWER on 7 May 2016
Format: Paperback Verified Purchase
This is an original Doctor Who novel, first published in 1997, so during the hiatus of the tv series, and the first Dalek novel to be published in that period. The story was written by John Peel, an author of quite a few Doctor Who novels (Target novelisations, and original novels), and the main one to write for the Daleks, apparently because Terry Nation’s agents demanded such a high percentage of an author’s fees for using the Daleks in novels.

War of the Daleks, and a follow-on book Legacy of the Daleks, are full-length Dalek novels which have caused some controversy among fans as they rather extensively rewrite Dalek history as depicted in the tv series, particularly that following on from the 1988 serial Remembrance of the Daleks. This was evidently done to bring the Dalek timeline more into line with the vision of Terry Nation for the Daleks.

However that may be, as a standalone novel, I found it a good read. The story involves the Eighth Doctor travelling with Sam, an original companion for the Eighth Doctor novels, a teenage girl from Earth that the Doctor first meets in in 1997.

The prologue to the book features a group of soldiers fighting what they know is a desperate battle against a force of Daleks. The action then moves to the Tardis, where the Doctor is making some repairs to components, when the Tardis, with the Doctor and Sam on board, is caught up in a salvage ship’s sweep; a ship that has already caught some interesting debris from the remains of an earlier battle, including a pod. But the pod is of interest to others, as well, and the Doctor and Sam soon find themselves caught up in the ongoing struggle between the Daleks and the Thals.
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Format: Paperback
Ever since 'Destiny of the Daleks' was broadcast in 1979, there have been a whole series of unanswered questions about the Doctor's oldest foes.
In particular, why was Skaro seemingly abandoned by the Daleks ? Subsequent to 'Destiny of the Daleks', it seemed as if the Daleks had definitely lost their 'galactic superpower' status and were instead doomed to a near-eternity of civil war between those Daleks loyal to the memory of the 'true' Emperor Dalek (destroyed in 'Evil of the Daleks') and Davros who ultimately made himself 'Emperor' of a new Dalek race engineered on Necros (Revelation of the Daleks),
'War of the Daleks' resolves these issues in an ingenious fashion. In a fascinating dialogue between the Doctor and the Dalek Prime (the last survivor of the original 'prototype' Daleks build in the Kaled bunker), it emerges that both Davros and the Doctor have been misled by the Dalek leadership through all the events of 'Destiny of the Daleks' through to 'Remembrance of the Daleks'..
There are a number of interesting characters in 'War of the Daleks'; Delani is a Thal officer who has been morally brutalised by the hereditary war with the Daleks; the Doctor himself comes across as a little out of his depth as his dialogue with the Dalek Prime unfolds ; the Dalek Prime is described as having an appearance that resembles the Emperor Dalek featured in the 'TV21' comic strips of the 1960s - more importantly its existence is clear testimony to the Daleks return to being an autonomous species capable of devising its own strategies.
If there is to be a 40th anniversary special, 'War of the Daleks' is a prime candidate to provide its core plot. The novel's scenes are too epic for the BBC, but the plot, if portrayed properly, would restore 'Doctor Who' as a leading science fiction series.
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Format: Paperback
I have about 20 pages left of this book to read and I have enjoyed every minute of it. I personally think this is a solid Dr Who story which connects many Dalek stories together to show a progression of the Dalek race. As much as I think Davros was a waste after Genesis of the Daleks the book makes his sometimes disjointed appearances make sense as the big picture evolves. The main action may well take place towards the end of the book but how many times did the TV show wait until the final episode to really get started? I have really enjoyed the ride!
There have been times in the latter part of the TV series that the Daleks have seemed nothing but stooges to Davros, but War of the Daleks takes the ideas from Remembrance of the Daleks and runs with them, emphasising the divisions between Dalek ranks - being those loyal to Davros and those loyal to the Dalek Prime, hence the war. It is interesting to see Daleks starting to think for themselves again like in the good old days, and unlike some of the new range of Dr Who novels this story actually stays true to the TV version and doesn't seem like something completely different trying to compete with American sci-fi. If Big Finish make an audio version of War then I'll be the first to buy it.
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Format: Paperback
I have seriously mixed feelings about "War of the Daleks". Despite it being clunky, juvenile and containing the most pointless continuity rewrite in the history of science fiction, it's still the only BBC Doctor Who novel (with the exception of "The Infinity Doctors") that I've read more than once. It's a guilty pleasure, like Godzilla movies. Reading it, you know that it's dumb, but you just can't stop. At least, I can't.

Throughout the novel, John Peel does a great job of showing us how good it could have been, as he breaks up the main plot with small vignettes from the greater galaxy as it grapples with the Dalek threat. These are gripping stuff indeed, epic adventures against an implacable and ruthless foe. The opening scene, a vast battle between the Daleks and Thal special forces, is equally gripping and for some reason reminds me of many of the scenes in Heinlein's "Starship Troopers". If the book had continued along those lines, it would have been superb; miltary SF in the Doctor Who universe is something we really haven't seen before, and Peel infuses the battle scenes with great tension and drama, whether they be between the Daleks and lone security agents, custodial robots or Draconian starships. He proves that he certainly has the ability to write this kind of stuff well, which is why the direction he takes with the rest of the novel is so irritating.

In between the battle scenes, Peel manages to create some very interesting characters and then gives them very little to do. The Doctor, supposedly the hero of the story, literally does nothing to affect the plot at all throughout the entire book.
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