Doctor Who: The Roundheads Mass Market Paperback – 24 Nov 1997
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Top Customer Reviews
As many Who fans will already know, Gatiss already has a cult following in the UK as one quarter of The League of Gentlemen, the BBC's bizarre comedy series.
However, the New Adventures series allows Mark to explore his real passion - Dr Who.
The Roundheads is certainly an entertaining read, with Polly and Ben getting to prove they're not really just the cheeky London characters we all came to know and love in the TV series.
What's also pleasing to note is that the author manages to capture not only the period well, but also Patrick Troughton's 'cosmic hobo' character.
A big thumbs up then, but keep both careers going Mark - as good as your Who novels are, we simply can't live without your pals in Royston Vasey just yet...
This story features the Second Doctor, as played by Patrick Troughton. In this story, he is travelling with Polly, Ben and Jamie, so the story is set somewhere between the tv stories ‘The Highlanders’ when Jamie joins the Tardis crew, and ‘The Faceless Ones’ when Ben and Polly leave.
The Tardis has landed, and the Doctor and his friends have stepped out into what Ben realises is London, but it takes them a while longer to work out when they have arrived. In fact it is 1648, and London is a dangerous place for strangers. Cromwell’s forces have defeated the King’s armies, and King Charles I is held prisoner. But Cromwell has more planned yet. As if that wasn’t enough, before long the Doctor and Jamie get taken prisoner, Ben finds himself all at sea, and Polly gets mixed up with desperate Cavaliers and fiendish plots.
This is a wonderful historical Doctor Who novel. The author has very skilfully blended history with the Doctor and his friends, and given the reader a totally satisfactory result. I loved that historical figures were so perfectly portrayed – Cromwell, King Charles, Cromwell’s spymaster Thurloe, Richard Cromwell. We even get to see Colonel Pride and Lord Grey of Groby, and ‘Pride’s Purge’ of the Parliament. The fictional characters, including the odoriferous Nate Scrope, and William Kemp and his family, are very realistically drawn and inserted into the historical background. There is a lot of emotion in this book, and the prologue, read again after reading the story through, really makes you realise the ultimate pathos of travelling with the Doctor. A terrific read, and a really great novel from Mark Gatiss.
My issues didn't end there though, a lot of the characters actions just didn't make sense. The Doctor and Jamie are imprisoned as spies, yet they get let out on a whim. Richard Cromwell finds a book which tells the future, yet does nothing with it. Sal Winter trusts Ben totally after one boozy night in Amsterdam. I could go on. The Roundheads also suffers from some lazy writing techniques and plot devices. Why does the Doctor need a book about the English Civil Wars? He hasn't before and he hasn't since. You may be able to overlook it if the book had a purpose but that story line just fizzled out. Nearly all the characters are stereotypical, there are two which aren't but the rest you never feel anything for.
The Roundheads isn't a bad book by any means, once you get through the beginning the rest is actually a fairly interesting story. it also does stick pretty closely to the historical stories of it's era so if you like that sort of thing then it would be your kind of book. Sadly I didn't find much to get excited about.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Gatiss' ROUNDHEADS is a welcome exception. Here in Europe this writer is known foremost for his British tv comedyseries, I read somewhere he is also a big Doctor Who fan. This novel, for me, proves that.
There's a big passion evident in Gatiss' writing. He makes the world of Doctor Who (and history!) come to live, and he just draws you in it.
ROUNDHEADS is very conservative in it's set-up (and it's execution) but come and think of it, that's why I like it so much. It's about the Doctor (in his second incarnation) and his companions who wind up in England at the time of Cromwell and the roundheads. They get mixed up in a plot to help the captured king escape and also, when a history book from the future is misplaced and falls into the wrong hands, they'll have to set history back on it's proper course.
I won't spoil anymore for you, but rest assured, there's plenty of adventures en even some bloody, gruesome stuff, which I, as a horror buff just love! THIS IS GREAT STUFF! ...
GO GET IT!
I since have bought all of Mark Gatiss other Who books. Can't wait to read those also!
In this book, Mark Gatiss takes the opportunity to explore the characters, especially Ben and Polly. Ben was established as a sailor in his first appearance, but this book is his first real opportunity to demonstrate his nautical skills after he is pressganged into serving on a ship. Polly gets romantically entangled with a Royalist conspirator, although she doesn't learn this at first. And the Doctor and Jamie are imprisoned in the Tower of London (being Scottish, Jamie's supposed allegiances make him an enemy of the Lord Protector).
Mark Gatiss is a good writer. He paces things well, and understands foreshadowing. He is also fairly humorous (as one would hope, based on 'The League of Gentlemen' TV series which he is one of the writer/actors in) but not overbearingly so.
Even if you are not a fan of the Doctor's historical adventures, you may still enjoy this one.