Doctor Who: Warmonger: Warmongers Paperback – 6 May 2002
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Top Customer Reviews
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.
`This is High Treason, and for this you deserve death. However, in view of your past service, the sentence is commuted to exile. You leave Gallifrey this day, never to return.'
A chain of events has been set in motion that will change the Doctor and Peri forever. A chain that involves old enemies as well as old friends.
How does Peri come to be the leader of a gang of rebel fighters on an outlying planet? Who is the mysterious `General' against whom they are rebelling so violently? Where does the so-called `Supremo', leader of the Alliance forces ranged against the General, come from, and why is he so interested in Peri?
The answers lie in the origins of a conflict that will affect the whole cosmos - a conflict that will find humans, Sontarans, Draconians and even Cybermen fighting together for the greater good and glory. For the Supremo.
It is a conflict that will test both the Doctor and Peri to the limit, and bring them face to face with the dark sides of their own personalities.
This Fifth Doctor and Peri novel works as both a sequel and a prequel to classic 70s Gothic horror story `The Brain of Morbius'. The story opens with a flashback to a young Cardinal Borusa (The Doctor's former mentor) on his home planet Gallifrey. Ever the rebel, Borusa helps to depose the presiding Time Lord President before the story returns to the present. However, in this present, the Doctor's whiney American Botanist travellign companion, Peri, has transformed into an embittered guerilla fighter on a one-dimensional planet of farmers and outdoor cafes. Things are going badly for the guerillas, but take a distinct turn for the worse when Peri is herself kidnapped an enigmatic warlord known only as `The Supremo'...Read more ›
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
Most Helpful Customer Reviews on Amazon.com (beta)
Warmonger is a prequel to the Fourth Doctor television story The Brain of Morbius, which itself was an homage to Frankenstein; it's one of Doctor Who's most enjoyable stories. Despite being a prequel, Warmonger features the Fifth Doctor and Peri and details the war which left Morbius' brain headless. The novel reads like a bad Star Wars novel with unlikely alliances between Timelords, Sontarans, Ice Warriors, Draconians, Ogrons and Cybermen. At no point was I ever convinced these races would ally to fight the evil, vane and utterly idiotic Morbius. And because Morbius is incompetent, I never remotely begin to believe he could lead an army to conquer the universe, just as I can never believe Peri (one of the whiniest companions in Doctor Who history) as a guerilla commander. Also, the Fifth Doctor seems out of place here as the great Supremo who leads his army against that of Morbius. I've always pictured the Fifth Doctor as more of a pacifist. The Sixth Doctor seems a more credible choice to spearhead this story. None of the characters fit their places -- we have square characters being put in round holes. This story is all too epic to be crammed into one 280+ page novel and the plot relies far too much on miscast stereotypes to fit into one volume. With the right pieces and three volumes, this could have been a masterpiece.
I do like some of the book's earlier moments. The book begins with Peri's exploits as a rebel commander, and I kept turning pages to discover how Peri turned into this rough, tough, take-no-prisoners character. The Doctor's reasons for journeying to a pre-Brain of Morbius Karn all seem viable, and it was great to visit The Sisterhood again, although they play far too small a role in this book.
In short, too much is crammed into this tale and the results are totally unconvincing. For a better sampling of T.D.'s Doctor Who writing search for the brilliant Virgin novel "Blood Harvest."
I graduated in your class since 1986, but I still haven't figured out what you had against me. Your bizarre system of seating the class alphabetically meant that I had to sit in the very back of the room, even though I was shorter than the four kids in front of me, and even though I had glasses and they didn't. I also don't understand why you gave me low grades on my book reports. It's one thing if you didn't want me reading "The Andromeda Strain", but you didn't have to go and give me a C+, either. I still maintain that I tried real hard on that one.
What I want to say now is that I've just finished "Warmonger", by Terrance Dicks. When I was in your class, most of the books I read were by Terrance Dicks, although I wasn't allowed to do book reports on "Doctor Who" novelizations since they weren't real books. So now I want to write a review of Warmonger for you. I know you didn't encourage essays... you wanted us to write capsules, in which we described the book's conflict, its major characters, its setting. You only wanted a four-sentence plot summary and you punished me when I couldn't describe "The Andromeda Strain" in that short a space. But here goes... even though "Warmonger" is a huge novel, it's very simple and not very sophisticated.
The book opens with a literary flashback, which you might have appreciated. We're taken right back to Gallifrey, to watch a younger version of our old friend Cardinal Borusa, depose an unnamed President who will come back to be important later. Then, we're jumped right to the present, but it's very disconcerting. Peri, the Doctor's sweet young American companion, is suddenly an embittered guerilla fighter on a one-dimensional planet of farmers and outdoor cafes. All her fellow rebels are killed off in Chapter 1. Then Peri kills an evil soldier, and gets kidnapped herself by an all-powerful warlord called "The Supremo"... who turns out to be.. the 5th Doctor!
The rest of the book jumps back in time one year to show how Peri and the Doctor became so unrecognizable. I guess you could say the conflict in "Warmonger" is "person versus self". The Doctor fights against his nature to become the unwilling leader of an army of thousands! Draconians... Ogrons... Sontarans... every villain created during Terrance Dicks' turn as script editor on "Doctor Who" returns as friends here. Even the Cybermen show up as allies ("That battle was excellent!", says the Cyberleader). Also, every character for whom Terrance Dicks ever wrote dialogue, is brought back in "Warmonger" for a cameo. You want me to list the book's major characters for my book report? It would take too long, too long. Mother Maren. Ohica. Solon. Borusa. Morbius. And then there are the original characters -- Hawken, Delmar, Vidal. Good heavens, there's even a General Nadir! He sure is, Mrs. Arnold. He sure is.
There are lot of big moments in "Warmonger". There are epic battles, clever strategems, lots of politics. However, it all goes by so fast, so unconvincing. The climactic battle on Karn is resolved in two sentences. When Morbius is finally captured, the Doctor then has to turn against his allies and fight on Morbius's side, just so Solon can steal his brain and skulk off into the sequel story "The Brain of Morbius", which Dicks already wrote in 1976. There are lots of "adult" themes, too... Peri is threatened with sexual assault every three pages. Literally! Except for when she's trying to seduce the Doctor, because she's suddenly turned on by his Supremo self with the military brush-cut.
For all these set pieces, though, I was just never convinced that this is how things really were. In 1986, I spent most of my time in your class waiting for the TARDIS to materialize so Doctor Who could take me away. I wanted to travel with the Fifth Doctor and be in stories like "The Visitation", and "The Awakening", and "The King's Demons". If I had known this was in store, I would have daydreamed instead about Elisabeth Shue.
"Doctor Who" was never this cartoonish when Terrance Dicks wrote for it on TV. "The War Games" and "Horror of Fang Rock" were very literate scripts, which still hold up today. Even "The Brain of Morbius" sails through on charm, even though it's not very good. But in order to write the prequel to "Morbius", Dicks is just going through the motions. His action spans a whole year, and dozens of planets, but there's never a moment of true reflection. If I had tried to write Morbius fanfic when I was twelve, I think the Morbius I invented would have had more weight and life than this.
Mrs. Arnold, I'm not 12 anymore. I don't think you were successful in getting me to love literature. You taught me that books were to be dissected, not enjoyed. You taught me that notebooks were to be inspected for note-taking quality; how could I hear your lessons if I was busy taking notes? The only real moment of kindness you showed me the whole year was when you gave me a pencil with the name "Demosthenes" on it. I can't figure that out. I've anagrammed that name a hundred times since 1986 -- a thousand! -- and it still doesn't resolve itself into the name of a Terrance Dicks villain.
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.
It's by Terrance Dicks. So it's a fast, smooth read, with no weird stylistic experiments or plodding prose. The madness fairly flies off the page. Yes, yes, with the WW2 references in there, too.
Peri is a guerilla leader! The Fifth Doctor is a scary warlord in a black uniform! Uniting Sontarans, Draconians, Ogrons, and Cybermen and others in a great big space fleet!
No, I don't believe a word of it, either. But I couldn't stop laughing. What was Uncle Terry smoking when he wrote this and where can I get some?
My only real disappointment was that Morbius didn't get to have a longer and more impressive reign as Galactic Emperor before his brain got nicked by Dr. Solon.
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.