“He wondered what had happened to mild, gentle, womanly women. Like Ace – and Leela.”
This is a re-release of a novel first published in 1999, released again now as part of the Doctor Who – Monsters collection of stories featuring several of the Doctors in individual stories with various monsters – Zygons, Cybermen, Daleks and in this case Sontarans (and Rutans).
The Doctor (Seventh) is up to his mysterious ways again, and has sent Roz and Chris after a serial killer who is able to change his shape – killing, changing shape and skipping planets, Roz and Chris are having a tough time trying to chase him down. Meanwhile, Benny has been sent to the University at Sentarion City, where she blends in as a scholar and tries to find information on a mysterious secret that the Doctor has sent her to look for. But her search leads her into more danger than she had anticipated and she soon finds herself in dire trouble. The Doctor has been interfering with the Sontarans’ takeover of a planet, and finds himself in jail with a smuggler. But it’s all okay; the Doctor has a plan – doesn’t he? What could possibly go wrong?
This is a really great story, and I was surprised to remind myself that it was written by Terrance Dicks (who, let’s face it tends to dial down the suspense and deep characterisation of a great novel in favour of shorter novels full of action). In this story though the characters are fully drawn and well realised – Roz, Chris and Benny are of course well-established characters in this stage of the Seventh Doctor’s adventures (from the NA range), but Kurt, the crew of the solar yacht, the Sontarans and Rutans themselves, even the bit-parts of the spaceport crew, and the various law enforcemet officers and university officials who pop up in the story are all really well done. It’s easy to envisage them playing well on tv. Definitely a top-notch Doctor Who story, and a really great Seventh Doctor story, this novel also serves well to develop further the Sontarans and the Rutans and their interminable struggle for supremacy over each other’s race.
Ah an interesting one this. Terrance Dicks has essentially taken a script from a one-off independent video production featuring The Sontarans (and Sophie Aldred) but not The Doctor. Apparently quite successful when it was released in 1995; although judging by the publicity stills in the middle of the book I can't see why! The Sontarans were supposedly 'updated' but look more pantomime than they did in the early 70s whilst Carole-Ann Ford and Sophie Aldred prance around in fright makeup. Anyway, back to the novel. The Doctor has sent Benny to the planet Sentarion to research the origins of the Sontaran/Rutan war whilst Chris and Roz arrive on on a planet which appears to be policed by genetically enhanced Ogrons and run by gangs of Wolfmen and mysterious gangsters. The adjudicators are apparently on the trail of 'Karne', in reality a Rutan - whose people are locked in perpetual conflict with the Sontarans. The Doctor appears to be aiming to aid The Rutan in their fight - knowing that if The Sonatarans were to win they would subsequently turn their attentions to the rest of the Galaxy - with undoubtedly disastrous consequences. There are definite moments of classic Tom Baker 'Who' - an ensemble cast are picked off one-by-one; leaving just The Doctor, his companions and a dubious former acquaintance to pick up the pieces. Overall this is an underwhelming story with moments of interest but little new to offer.