on 5 July 2008
Christopher Bulis' second MA novel neatly juxtaposes the expected Sci-fi with a trademark First Doctor historical adventure. The twist is that it is not Earth's history but that of another planet; one that has a medieval setting but originally had a contemporary one. Pixies, Dwarves and Wizards abound, and they mix with starship pilots and of course the TARDIS crew: The Doctor, Ian Chesterton, Barbara Wright and Susan.
The time-travellers are immediately plunged into trouble when they arrive and are locked out by the TARDIS's defence systems. Something very powerful and very dangerous is on the loose and the time-machine automatically defends itself. This leaves its crew in a bit of a pickle; a situation that is exacerbated when a huge fire-breathing dragon attacks them and injures Barbara. Ian gallantly flies to her rescue and with the help of a mysterious knight he defeats the beast. This leads to the travellers becoming embroiled in the machinations of an evil sorcerer and his ape-like henchmen, resulting in quest to save the kingdom whilst searching for the mystical `Merlin's Helm'; the key to who or what will have ultimate power throughout the land.
Bulis has stayed true to the characters of the time-travellers although there is scant evidence of The Doctor's trademark irascibility (apart from an early verbal skirmish with Ian). The story flows nicely and there are some nice touches where The Doctor appears to be using magic. Overall this is a solid read.
This novel finds the 1st Doctor, Susan, Barbara and Ian landing on a magical fantasy world, though this being Doctor Who it's somewhat inevitable that the `magic' will ultimately turn out to be highly advanced alien science. The actual fantasy world of Elbyon is very generic: dragons, dwarfs, elves, an evil wizard in his dark tower, a quest for a magical artefact to defeat him, but the action comes so thick and fast that the reader is swept along with little pause for thought. Bulis characterisation is sadly all but non-existent though, with the majority of the cast being distinguishable only be name. By no means a great Doctor Who novel, this is nevertheless a diverting harmless runaround with plenty of action for the regulars.