on 18 December 2013
This is one of the few Doctor Who adventures that deals with the consequences of the Doctor's actions. `The Face of Evil' is concerned with a situation that happens after the Doctor has saved the day and left, leaving those behind to deal with the negative fall-out that occurs from his actions. In the programme there is little indication of when this past adventure of the Doctor's occurs, other than that it must be during his Fourth incarnation. Terrance Dicks provides his own explanation for when the background to this adventure actually happens; suggesting it is shortly after the Doctor has regenerated into his fourth persona during the events of `Robot'. Even though it is debatable that the Doctor nipped away in the Tardis sometime during that adventure it does offer an explanation why he might have made a tactical error (ie. he is suffering from having recently regenerated).
There are several other interesting ideas to be found in this story. Chris Boucher's original script obviously takes some influence from `Lord of the Flies' in the division that develops between the Sevateem and the Tesh through the schizophrenic outlook of Xoanon. The issues concerning Xoanon itself and the nature and development of artificial intelligence are somewhat Asimov in nature. There are certainly interesting concepts to dwell on in this story.
Of course, the primary element of this story is to introduce the new companion, Leela. As such, Dicks subtly orientates a little more of events through her perspective.
One of the more thought provoking of the Target novelisations, this book is well worth a read.
on 30 September 2007
Setting the controls for Earth, the Doctor is surprised when the Tardis lands in a primeval forest. Has the Tracer gone wrong or has some impulse deep in his unconscious mind directed him to this alien planet? In investigating the forest, the Doctor meets and assists Leela, a warrior banished from her tribe, the Sevateem. Through Leela, it gradually becomes apparent that the constant war between the Sevateem and the Tesh has been instigated by the god they both worship, Xoanon. Xoanon, an all-powerful computer, is possessed by a desperate madness - a madness that is directly related to Doctor Who, that causes Xoanon to assume the voice and form of the Doctor, a madness that is partly caused by the Doctor and that only the Doctor himself can rectify! The Doctor must not only do battle with Xoanon, but also must escape from the savage practices of the Sevateem, and the technically mind-controlling destructive impulses of the Tesh.
As a book in itself, Doctor Who and the Face of Evil is quite a fast read, with the action rarely resting and the text never getting tortorous. Characters such as Calib and Tomas really stand out as effective, whilst the menace of Xoanon is ever present. This book introduces Leela and so it's appropriate that she dominates both the original cover and Alister Pearson's 1993 contribution, whilst she stands out in the book. But despite all this there is very little in this book that really stands out or makes the reviewer want to expound upon. What is left is a straightforward retelling of Chris Boucher's scripts. Here the story is strong and so ensures that the book remains readable, but a weaker script novelised by this method would produce a horrible tale.