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on 27 February 2015
I bought this since I thought John Hurt's War Doctor was a brilliant addition to the series and wanted to see what he got up to in the Time War.
This book was a fantastic read, loved every minute of it and there were some nifty moments which all lead up to the 50th Special

Recommended for any Doctor Who fans out there.
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on 23 October 2017
Brilliant book / a must for any Who fan
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on 22 March 2017
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on 28 March 2017
very good
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on 31 July 2014
The Time Lord previously known as The Doctor (boy that's a mouthful) has been fighting the Time War for hundreds of years, so what happens that will make him willing to destroy his own people to end it? The journey starts on the Dalek-ravaged world of Moldox...

The story opens pretty much as you would expect, with an epic battle between the Daleks and the Time-Lords. Amidst this, the Doctor accidentally discovers a remarkably effective way to kill a Special Weapons type Dalek: throw a TARDIS at it, preferably from orbit. Having made his unorthodox landing, the Doctor's attempts to avoid picking up a new companion prove laughably inneffective, for despite being battle-hardened and weary beyond his years, and however much he denies it, this is still recognisablly the Doctor. He tries to be the good warrior, a clever and strategic front-line soldier, but he can't quite escape his nature, which is why, when he finds out what the Daleks are up to, he foolishly tries to do the right thing...

The Doctor arguing with the Time-Lords may sound familiar, primarily because it is. We spend a good chunk of the narrative on a Gallifrey familiar from both the classic and new series, glimpsing panoramas from The End of Time before visiting Council Chambers from The Five Doctors. Characters old and new appear, their introductions carefully balanced so those readers new to them get a solid background, without so much info-dump that a regular viewer would get bored.
George Mann has tried to encompass both the old and the new throughout, without overloading on either. It is a shiny new tale, full of adventure and adversity, but with just a tincture of the familiar. We are reassured by these blasts from the past (and future) that what we have is a PROPER Doctor Who book, despite it featuring a little-seen incarnation and a completely new companion.
And Cinder is another element that draws from both series but relies on neither: she is damaged goods, like the War Doctor and Ace, yet she is also feisty and independant, like Sarah Jane and Rose, but most importantly, she still manages to be her own character. For while she is drawn with familiar traits, she is a new and well-rounded foil to this particular Doctor and you find yourself drawn into her world, caring about how she will turn out.

Perhaps the greatest achievement is the portrayal of the War Doctor himself. From the outset, it is clear that this is very much the John Hurt character we see in The Day of the Doctor. He has been fighting the war for centuries and the fire that lit the warrior within him has started to fade, allowing the old Doctor to begin to resurface. This is a character tired of fighting and tired of apparently making no real difference. Quite how he got to where we see him on screen is explored within these pages, where the long journey begins. Whether it ends here is another matter.

This book has been written to act as the perfect bridge, a traditional yet modern story, close to the new series in timeframe and style, but with more than enough of the classic series to appeal to long-term fans. Entertaining, powerful and moving, this could only be made better if they got John Hurt to do the audiobook version!

When's the next one coming out?

Full disclosure: Akin to Amazon Vine, the publisher provided a free eARC (Advance Review Copy) in exhange for this independent and unbiased review.
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VINE VOICEon 3 August 2014
Doctor Who's 50th Anniversary last year knocked everyone for six. All the various means of celebration were wonderful, but it was the events of `The Day of the Doctor' - and `The Name of the Doctor' & `The Night of the Doctor' - that shattered everything we thought we knew about the infamous Time War, the Doctor's previously unknown regeneration and his role in those events.

John Hurt's outstanding performance as the mysterious `War Doctor' truly added to the prestige and lineage of the Doctor's history. So when Engines of War was announced - shedding more light on the darkest period in the Time Lord's life - I knew I just had to purchase.

Ever since his Eighth Incarnation regenerated, the Doctor has been leading his people into arduous, devastating conflict with the Daleks, fighting on the front-line. Realities have been torn asunder by the two almighty species, with humans and other races caught right-in-the middle. Centuries of god-awful war have taken their heavy toll on the man who has long renounced the name of the Doctor. And after his TARDIS crash-lands on the planet Moldox, the events that follow will be the final straw for the renegade Time Lord.

"No more."

George Mann had a BIG assignment given to him. Could he write a story that is worthy of the nightmarish events constantly alluded to and/or (occasionally) actually revealed on Doctor Who ever since its 2005 revival? The answer is simply `yes'. Mann writes a tale that is most worthy of the creative visions of both Russell T Davies and Steven Moffat. The happenings of the Time War are not only detailed in dark and horrific fashion, but the consequences of the Time Lord/Dalek conflict are also clearly stressed for the unfortunate humans. Their fear and hatred for Time Lord and Dalek alike is not only understandable, it's justified.

And this is one of many things that has clearly scarred the War Doctor. Too many innocents and civilizations have been caught in the crossfire, and it's not just the Daleks, but himself and the Time Lords that are to blame. George captures the essence of the Doctor's War Incarnation SO well, that you can perfectly envision John Hurt back in the swing of things. The Doctor here is clearly bitter, tired and ashamed, and feebly trying to hang onto the quirks and ideals that made him who he was. You can't help but feel sympathetic towards him.

But it's not just the Doctor's personality and the horrors of the Time War that George Mann writes with panache. The author's writing style is so imaginative, with a clear (and exciting) understanding of how a Time War WOULD be fought. How the Daleks evolved and advanced to a point where they could use time & space to exterminate all life is most ruthless and extreme, and in a manner that completely befits them. Likewise, the Time Lords' fear of the Daleks has grown to the point where their change from a peace-loving, orderly and wise society, into a selfish, sinister and morally corrupt is also understandable. Nothing is black-and-white here; only a deep, deep grey. It's so intelligent that the writer deserves the highest commendation.

As Whovians will remember, there were TWO camps of Time Lords created in the Time War; the corrupt High-Council (as lead by Rassilon) who favoured their own survival above all else, and Gallifrey High Command (lead by the Time Lord General) who retained their honour and moral-codes, while fighting tooth & nail to ensure the safety of innocent people. For Engines of War, Mann wisely chooses the corrupt High-Council and Rassilon for the antagonistic side of the Time Lords. Rassilon is just as we remember him from The End of Time; almighty, full-of-self-importance/preservation and all ethics thrown right out the window. His portrayal here is so good that you can actually visualise John Hurt and Timothy Dalton going at it!

Then of course, there's Cinder. As a one-shot companion written exclusively for this story, the author writes her as impeccably as everything else. Like the Doctor, Cinder has lost everything, with only hatred against the Daleks and Time Lords to show for it. Like all other companions before and after her, she NEEDS saving. Throughout the story, Cinder grows to realise the enormity of the Time War beyond her own world, and is able to change for the better, and help the Doctor bear his own burdens as well. Cinder's role here is not only a reminder of how much the Doctor needs a companion, but also showcases what a three-dimensional character she is.

As other reviewers have said, the plot of Engines of War is that of a typical adventure book, and there's plenty of good twists-and-turns, with the best shockers coming from revelations behind characters themselves, and the machinations of the Daleks. The prose is beautiful and accessible, with some brilliant utilisation of events like `The Night of the Doctor', `Genesis of the Daleks' and `The Five Doctors' to help drive the story. The events here also steamroll nicely towards the cataclysmic events of `The End of Time' and `The Day of the Doctor', coming across naturally instead of force-feeding us.

In closing, George Mann has done an impeccable job with Doctor Who: Engines of War. It's a beautiful book to hold and read. An utterly exceptional piece of work; one that makes me look forward to the audiobook release.
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on 2 February 2017
All I can say is great fun. Anyone who is old enough to remember peeking out from behind the sofa as a kid at the latest "terrifying" Dr Who episode. Who recalls witnessing the oddball antics of William Hartnell, Jon Pertwee, Tom Baker or whoever your personal favourite was. Who enjoyed seeing them take on a mixture of tinfoil coated Cybermen and rubber suited guys covered in seaweed called the Sea Devils. Particularly those who of course could never get enough of the highly improbable daleks croaking out "Exterminate" and "I obey" . . .

If you're one of those and fancy doing your own trip back through time and reliving it all in Audiobook form then I'd say this is a good way to do it. Nicholas Briggs clearly has an empathy with the material and he's backed by some quality dalek voice acting and various sound effects. For me just hearing that theme tune at the beginning and end was worth the Audible Daily Deal price!

Great stuff and written with exactly the same regard to the laws of Physics and Probability that the original Dr Who was!
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on 10 August 2014
John Hurt’s brief role as the Doctor has undoubtedly left fans with the desire to see more of this previously unknown incarnation. This is probably unlikely to ever happen on screen again and it is entirely possible (but let’s hope not) that this novel might be the only revisit to this version of the Doctor. ‘Engines of War’ is also of importance in that it gives the War Doctor an adventure all of his own.

Obviously a novel of this nature is heavily influenced by ‘The Day of the Doctor’. However, it can’t entirely be considered a prequel as such. ‘The Day of the Doctor’ is concerned with the last days of the Time War whereas ‘Engines of War’ is a story in its own right set sometime during said war.

However, much like ‘The Day of the Doctor’ it takes inspiration from across the history of the programme, effortlessly merging references to twenty first century Doctor Who with that which came before. It takes considerable influence from three of my personal favourite stories; ‘The Deadly Assassin’, ‘Genesis of the Daleks’ and ‘The Five Doctors’. Making use of such background material helps to make this, at least for me, a very enjoyable book. Although there is a large amount of content that relies on knowledge of many Doctor Who stories this knowledge isn’t essential to understand or follow the plot. The author has created a good balance of references that enrich the novel without making it continuity obsessed or too fan indulgent.

The characterisation of the Doctor is a little varied throughout. There are times when John Hurt’s portrayal comes to the surface but often this book’s Doctor is a more generic amalgamation of Doctorish traits, usually from the twenty-first century incarnations. That is fairly understandable, however, considering the limited screen time for the War Doctor. This is also still the Doctor before the act of genocide; before he has reached the point of “no more”. There are efforts by the author to distance the character of the War Doctor from the Doctor proper. He is heavily referred to as the Predator throughout and exhibits aggressive tendencies. However, the author’s main effort is to show that the War Doctor would behave differently to the Fourth if put in the famous dilemma the Fourth Doctor faces in ‘Genesis of the Daleks’. It is not that convincing an argument though considering that the similar situation the War Doctor finds himself in in this book is not actually the same situation at all with closer consideration. The War Doctor of this novel is still very much the Doctor and it could very well be the intention of the author to steer the reader to this conclusion.

One of the most interesting aspects of the book is the parallels it draws between the Daleks and the Timelords. It seems that as the Time War escalates both indulge in hideous genetic experiments (even on their own kind) and devise or use terrible weapons of mass destruction. Indeed the main plot of this novel is whether or how such a weapon, the Tear, should be applied. The High Council of the Timelords and the Eternity Circle of Daleks definitely bare similarities in outlooks and objectives and Rassalon appears to be no better than the Dalek Emperor. It can be assumed that by the end of this novel it is the author’s intention to bring us to the conclusion that the Daleks and the Timelords are now much the same thing. After all, that is the conclusion the Doctor will reach.

If this is, unfortunately, the only new story the War Doctor will get this one has at least done his incarnation proud. Action packed and exciting whilst thought provoking all at once. There is much to be enjoyed in this story and the author clearly knows his material.
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on 3 March 2015
Surprised! I thought this was going to be about the Dleks (hence buying it), and in all fairness it is; they're definitely in the story and the cause of the Doctor's problem and dilemma. You do hear Dalek voices, etc. What I didn't expect is that the story evolves around "the mystery of the Time Lords" - they're role is significantly more demanding than the Daleks.
I was absolutely delighted and enthralled by this, getting to listen to an hour of story whilst driving to work (2 hours a day then). Seven CDs nicely filled my time commuting, so much so that I bought a couple more Who narrative story CDs, and also the new Who "Masters of earth" (Big Finish). It actually makes me want to go to work - to listen to it en route.
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on 8 January 2015
This is actually the first Doctor Who novel I've bought and read since the Target books of the mid to late 70s. Yes I am that old and I think this is why I was very disappointed with "Engines of War". I had assumed that as the new 21st Century Doctor Who on TV was so far beyond its "classic" predecessor (which I remember very well) so this novel would be far beyond the Target novelisations.

But it isn't. It reads exactly the same. Characterisation is pretty stereotypical. The Doctor is generic and apart from the occasional reminder that he has a beard doesn't shout "John Hurt" to me at all. The President of the Time Lords is maniacally evil, the companion could be any 20th Century teenager, and there's even a snivelling "Kellner" type Time Lord. Oh and there's a Mind Probe too, which said snivelling Time Lord uses with soap-character-like glee.

Once more the protaganists are locked in a cell which the sonic screwdriver can't open...only for the day to be saved by a piece of wire. Pardon? The Time Lords are an ancient civilisation far in advance of anyone else technologically, and yet they lock their prison cells with an ordinary pickable lock, and they don't have any kind of prisoner surveillance?

The Daleks too are simply generic tin cans who shout (no make that "Squawk") "Exterminate!" at every opportunity. Daleks in "Doomsday" can detect Rose Tyler's increased heart-rate, yet the Moldox Resistance (and the Doctor) can easily avoid Dalek patrols by hiding behind bushes.

George Mann's novel doesn't come over as an attempt to expand the background of the new series and touch on the great and mythical Time War. Instead it very much reads like something based on (and in the style of) the Classic Series. No make that the Classic Series circa 1985. In fact make that the novelisations of the Classic Series circa 1985. I almost expected to read of the TARDIS making a "wheezing groaning" sound and Cinder having "an honest open face". Everything about it is '80s Who, from the descriptions of Gallifrey to the endless running through corridors or Dalek occupied wastelands. I'm guessing that if you devoured Doctor Who novels in the 80s and 90s then you might find this a comfortable and familiar read, but to me it was a waste of an interesting Doctor and the potential of the Time War.
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