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Doctor Who: Warmonger: Warmongers Paperback – 1 May 2002
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Top customer reviews
This might make it seem that events are all ordained and therefore a little predictable. However, the novel does not only serve as a prequel but also effectively as a sequel to ‘The Brain of Morbius’. It is the Doctor’s fifth incarnation that becomes embroiled in these events meaning that within his own timeline he has already experienced their outcome. The Doctor has to ensure, therefore, that whatever he does, things pan out as they should and that he doesn’t inadvertently alter something. How he achieves this by the conclusion is what keeps the reader interested. Thus, for example, the Doctor finds himself in a situation where he must help Solon now so that he can stop him later. There are also some nice touches such as Morbius exhibiting an excessive vanity when the reader knows his fate is to become a disembodied brain.
Although the prequel/sequel nature of the novel works relatively well and it is generally quite entertaining throughout, there are some horrible flaws. The worst of which is the characterisation of this particular Tardis team. Strangely for Dicks, who probably knows the various incarnations of the Doctor better than anyone, his Fifth Doctor in this novel bares almost no resemblance to his television counterpart. Partly this is because the plot puts the Fifth Doctor in a situation which is, perhaps, more alien to him than his other incarnations. In many ways it seems like another version of the Doctor would have been better suited for this story.
Likewise, this is a Peri far divorced from that seen onscreen Even though it is clearly the intention that some time passes during this novel it still seems totally unfeasible that Peri would turn into guerrilla warfare expert. What’s more it seems that we’re expected to accept that she reverts to her former self once more after this novel. Again this doesn’t seem the best choice of companion.
However, in a fairly vague way some elements of ‘Warmonger’ seem to pre-empt what has now come about within the television series. The Doctor raises an army, he fights in a universe jeopardising war, he gains a Sontaran ally, there is an alliance of alien species against a Time Lord threat and Karn has become significantly more important. Perhaps, Dicks has his own Tardis.
Peri's perils are the best part of this book as she narrowly avoids several "fates worse than death" and holds her own in the action sequences.
Peri's all too human weakness for a pretty face and a good chat up line make her a much more likeable and believable character in print than on the small screen.
This version of the fifth doctor has a few surprises too, as he reveals a hitherto unexplored side of his character _ the Doctor as military mastermind.
The action moves mostly between Peri and the Doctor with little fleshing out of the minor charcters – but it's a lot of fun and an enjoyable read.
I love continuity.
I love seeing old foes again.
I love Terrance Dicks' clear and uncomplicated prose style.
So this should be a really good book.
But it's not.
Mired in trying to tie too many things from TV stories together, it takes the doctor and peri into totally unfamiliar realms and they become unfamiliar characters as a result. And there's so much detail in here that terrance's usually excellent prose style deserts him, and it becomes a real chore to read.
One of the most disappointing books in the range. Don't waste your time
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Now, I should point out that this book is actually a lot of fun to read if you turn your mind off. I'd say the less you know about Doctor Who, the better you'll like this book. Problem is, the book is clearly written with fans in mind, with little nods hither and thither to other Doctor Who adventures, science-fiction conventions, and even a nod to Douglas Adams, who apparently was a writer on Doctor Who before he wrote HitchHiker's Guide to the Galaxy. (If he was more than merely a writer, I appologize to any Whovian who is now "aaaargh"ing in frustration at me right now.)
As I think about this book, having just finished it, what springs to mind is this: I think I would've enjoyed this book much more when I was around thirteen (I'm thirty-three now), back when I loved Roger Moore as James Bond and didn't like those Connery films or the Bond books because they weren't nearly as action-packed and didn't use enough of those cool gadgets. This Doctor Who novel has everything I could've asked for as a younger fan of DOctor Who--huge space- and ground-battles, the Doctor being pretty bad-ass and not afraid to show it, a close encounter with a sexual liaison between the Doctor and his companion ... Time Lords, Cybermen, Ice Warriors, Sontaurans ... about the only thing missing from this juvenile-fanboy recipe are the Daleks.
But just as I outgrew Roger Moore as James Bond and came to appreciate the Connery era as being much more intelligent, suspenseful and overall more satisfying, not despite a lack of copious action scenes and gadgets, but in many ways *because* of it, so hve I come to appreciate a more mateur and subtle form of Doctor Who, one that doesn't need a lot of gimickry and action to tell a rollicking adventure story.
What makes this all the more frustrating is the fact that the story is written by Terrance Dicks, a man who has been working in the Doctor Who universe since at least the 1970s. He should know better. I'm apparently a rare bird in that I actually like his "simplistic" writing style ... but I need more meat from my Doctor Who than this book provides, and that's a shame, because the story itself is an interesting one.
In summation, if you like the ROger Moore films in the James Bond series, particularly the Moonraker variety, and you want similar sensibilities in Doctor Who, you'll probably love this book. However, if you want something more substantial and ... er ... filling from you favorite Time Lord, I'd advise you to find another book. There are plenty in the Doctor Who universe to choose from.
Then every so often one like this comes along and I can't imagine the rationale that was required to go about approving this. Was there that much of a swell of interest in how evil Time Lord Morbius lost his head that an entire novel needed to be written about it? As the author wrote the original story (or some of it, apparently Robert Holmes did a number of rewrites that the author wasn't happy about) maybe that question has been bugging him all these years? Who knows? In the meantime we get the answer to the burning question on everyone's mind. Yay!
It starts out intriguingly enough, with Peri running around a planet leading a crew of guerrillas against an oppressive invading force. Seeing Peri becoming tough as nails, shooting down soldiers with impunity and acting like Sigourney Weaver in "Aliens", hardened to the rawness of war and its ravages, is enough of a shock to the system that you have to figure out whether this is some kind of weird dream or not. Then another force shows up and poor Peri is taken to meet their supreme commander, "Supremo" if you would. Turns out it's the Doctor! And not even the more aggressive Sixth Doctor, but the kind and gentle Fifth Doctor. What gives? Sounds like its time for a flashback!
What gives is a long way around to get to a fairly simple answer, via several rather absurd coincidences. The early scenes have such a "everything you know is wrong!" feel about them as to border on the eye-rollingly ridiculous but given this is a show that isn't attempting to be grittily realistic, we can let it slide and go along for the ride. Unfortunately to get to where we need to be, it requires everyone to act out of character, often wildly so. Taking Peri to planet he believes is safe, they're out for about thirty seconds before she nearly has her arm torn off by a giant bird. After the gentle Doctor breaks its neck to rescue her, he realizes that her near severed arm needs the finest medical attention that the Universe can provide, which can only happen in one place. Now, keeping in mind that a) the Doctor has the whole of time and space, including the far, far future to take her to, especially hospitals where growing limbs is probably routine and b) we can reattach nearly lost limbs in this day and age ourselves, so its not like she has a rare alien disease, the Doctor takes her to the hospital where crazy Solon from "The Brain of Morbius" works, before he became a crazy head collecting recluse and was just a really arrogant surgeon. Because he's the only person in the whole of history that can save Peri, we waste several chapters on how much of a unpleasant son of a gun Solon is, while the Doctor has to tiptoe around so as to not change the timeline where Solon goes nuts. Dilemmas, dilemmas.
Fortunately we trade the plot soon enough for what the story is actually about, exiled Time Lord Morbius showing up to take over the Universe one planet at a time with his huge invading army. In no time at all he's got Peri, and the Doctor has been assigned by the Time Lords to form an army to take him out because they don't feel like doing it themselves. Before that happens, we get several instances where the Doctor apparently sincerely threatens to kill someone, which becomes less and less believable the more you imagine Peter Davison saying it. He even quotes (presumably) Adolf Hitler, without irony. It's all very odd, especially when you consider that if the Time Lords want to go to through all this trouble to catch Morbius, they could probably pick him up with one of their magic teleporting boxes, drop him secretly into a black hole and then replace him with a hologram that renounces violence and embraces peace.
Instead, we get the equivalent of you and your friends sitting around the lunch table trying to top each other with "How cool is this!" scenarios. To make his army work, the Doctor recruits races as differing as the prissy Draconians and the militant Sontarans, in ways that beggar disbelief at times. As the Draconians like complicated military maneuvers and the Sontarans just like shooting at things (ignoring that, being they're geared for war constantly, they would make decent tacticians . . . granted that theory doesn't work as well in real life, q.v. North Korea), giving the impressions of the class nerds hanging out with a bunch of frat boys at a kegger getting rapidly out of control. Meanwhile, more and more races join, the Doctor becomes more and more beloved as he undoes all of Morbius' victories and the question remains, will he let the power to go to his head?
Nope. Things reach the point of ludicrous when the Cybermen of all people show up to volunteer their services (not the Daleks sadly, though for a second it seems it will go that way, maybe that was the point where the editor stepped forward to rein the author in) and eventually comment in a quote that should be on the cover of every edition of this book, "That was an excellent battle!" The Doctor turns out to be a genius at strategy while the various races fall all over themselves to proclaim how awesome he is. This would all have more weight to it if we ever got a sense that the local area of the galaxy was immersed in a huge sweeping war, but beyond descriptions of the Doctor winning at worlds that mean nothing to us, it all feels too limited, like the book is operating under the same budget as the TV show.
Of course, for all their experiences, the Doctor and Peri are exactly the same as how they started, no better or worse (if only actual combat veterans could get off that easily) but everyone has the best time anyway, even the people who die. All of this would be moderately tolerable if not for the ridiculousness at the end where the Doctor, wanting to make sure he encounters the brain of Morbius later, engineers the events that cause his brain to be taken away, and not in an organic inevitable unfolding of history way, but a really hamfisted hammering of square pegs into rounds holes type of way, getting us exactly where we need to be and thus theoretically justifying this book's existence. So now we know. Phew.
There's nothing explicitly bad in here, but the only way it can work is if everyone involved acts out of character all the time, except when they don't have to. It reads like a pitch a rabid fan would fling at the show as the Most Awesome Idea Ever because it has So! Many! Cool! Things! and so, yes, it reads like amateurish fan-fiction. Considering how long he has been with the show and that his previous novels were at least competent but not life-altering, I can only guess he dashed out this first draft in between appointments and the editors either didn't care to tidy it up or didn't know where to start. Its a step up from the last Past Doctor Adventure, but that's kind of like the difference between being struck by a cinder block or a hammer. Either way, you aren't going to enjoy it.
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