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on 18 February 2010
I've got halfway through this book in a very short space of time and am enjoying it. It is definitely not the worst Doctor Who book ever (I gave up on 'Relative Dementias' no more than a third of the way through!) The characterisations are fine and if you like a diverting 7th Doctor yarn this is involving enough and better than many others even if it is far from the best. I hope the current cheap price of second hand copies will encourage fans to give this one a go.

BTW also one of the better cover illustrations from Virgin.
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on 4 November 2004
I came to review this novel with an open mind, however the previous reviewer's comments have given me food for thought. As a long-term DW fan I had never heard THE PIT's supposed terrible reputation as the worst Doctor Who book ever written. It was certainly a lot better than several of the Virgin New Adventures series so far (see The CAT's CRADLE installment featuring the giant leeches; now that's bad!)
It's certainly true that Neil Penswick is no Terrance Dicks (or even a John Peel for that matter), however, anyone who approaches a Doctor Who novel looking for quality prose is bound to be disappointed - the fun is to be had in the adventure. In this case the adventure is admittedly lacklustre: Benny and the Doctor seem aimless and uninspired in their various travails on the planet whilst the inspired idea of plucking an 18th Century scribe out of his surroundings just came across as a random and pointless add-on.
In essence the story had all the right elements but the writer failed to make them into a coherent and pacy adventure. Above all else it's high time Berniece became something other than a slightly calmer 'Ace' without the nitro...
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on 6 January 2003
"Outside, the poet turned to the Doctor and raged at him. Why had they gone into that building, asked a stupid question and then left? It didn't make sense." -- THE PIT, page 149.
What in the name of God was that? Having read for years about how The Pit is supposedly the worst Doctor Who book ever written, I must admit that I approached it with a slight degree of trepidation. Still, I wondered to myself whether this book could really be as bad as all that. Surely there's no book on Earth that could possibly be as hideous as The Pit's shocking reputation would have one believe, right?
Reading the first page was an enlightening experience. The prose revealed here is among the worst that I have ever encountered. The sentences are jerky and disjointed. A sense of proper flow, which is so important to engaging reader interest, is virtually nonexistent. Every character's point of view and every character's speech patterns were all virtually identical with the form of the narrative. This didn't seem like a book populated by people, but rather a story inhabited by a mob of faceless plot devices, having no motivation of their own other than to do haphazard things to develop the story. The quote at the beginning of this review is unfortunately typical. People wander around for no good reason, say stupid things and then move on to the next plot point. It doesn't make sense, and no motivation is ever explained or revealed. Actually having a character point out the silliness of their motivations is no excuse for having characters with silly or no motivations.
Neil Penswick's choice of prose style did a fantastic job at holding me away from the plot. Working out the storyline required quite a lot of effort on my part simply because of the numbing nature of the writing. Yet there were portions of the plot that showed a flickering of potential but, for the most part, they sadly went underdeveloped. A few set-pieces here and there show a glimmer of what could have been an interesting tale. One can imagine a really superior wordsmith doing some marvelous work developing some of the ideas present. Unfortunately, the potentially good ideas fail to shine in the way that they should have.
The tone of the book is actually fairly consistent throughout its entirety. This is a dark and disturbing tale with no happy endings, no humour and no enlightening emotions. It succeeds at being a book without hope and without promise. Had the book made me care about any of its characters, it probably would have been quite powerful. Since I could barely distinguish one person from another, I could hardly care if any of them lived or died. A huge waste considering that the depressing nature of the story is one of the only things here that is handled surprisingly well.
After completing the book, I realized that I hadn't hated it as much as other people have, nor did I abhor it as much as I thought I would from reading the first few chapters. Make no mistake, I'm not recommending this as anything remotely resembling a good book, but it does have moments where one can see a few gems peeking through the mud. A pity though that the gems are mostly glass and the mud is far too thick and smelly to encourage one to wade through it. Every want-to-be author should definitely check out this book if they want to know how not to write quality prose.
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