I was looking forward to this novel. The only previous past Doctor book I'd read was "The Witch Hunters" by the same author which I thought was very well researched and plotted, and you could quite easily imagine the dialogue of the TARDIS crew being voiced by Hartnell, Russell et al. I didn't feel the same amount of enthusiasm about "Salvation" though. I felt the plot dragged at times and I didn't find it as easy to read as its predecessor. Basically, the story involves a small group of aliens coming down to Earth. This erstwhile group has no real identity and thrives on the wants and needs of others to give it substance. At the time of their arrival, the human race is wanting to believe in, apparently, a group of gods so that is what the aliens become. Despite certain reservations, however, I did find much to commend the book. As an exercise in filling out the characters of Steven and, in particular, Dodo it excels. A lot of thought has gone into fleshing out the latter's introduction and making sure that it shoehorns perfectly between "The Massacre" and "The Ark" without any contradictions (and the book even explains away Dodo's odd changes of accent). Steve Lyons' device of separating Dodo and Steven for most of the novel helps avoid any clashes. This desire to tie up loose ends and rationalise mistakes made by the original series appeals to me and I think I'll check out "Business Unusual" next which apparently aims to do the same thing. To summarise, I would recommend "Salvation" but I would say it's not un-put-downable and could have done with being thirty pages shorter.
This was a good read which gave a really good backstory to dodo before she actually ran into the tardis. The novel shows good consistency, until it reaches about the middle, near to the end, which is where is sags a little. However, Steve Lyons does a good job in terms of a decent story. I would recommend this to Hartnell fans as it really captures Hartnell's essence of the character, however one felt he wasn't shown in the novel as much as he should be, same goes for steven. One thing that really struck was the detailed imagery in which Steve Lyons presents with his scenery, for example in the run down cafe, I could really envision it in my head. Overall, I enjoyed this novel very much because the idea is absolutely genius and despite it's flaws, I think it's a really good read and it also allows the reader to see the world from dodo's point of view(who happens to be a favorite, underrated character who I like a lot). So go ahead and enjoy!
Believe it or not Salvation is only the second Past Doctor Adventure in the range to feature the 1st Doctor and just like the first (The Witch Hunters) it is written by Steve Lyons. The Witch Hunters was a fantastic history piece which truly captured the era on the page and as such I had high hopes for Salvation which deals with a more modern era.
Salvation deals with alien "Gods" crash landing in London and New York in the mid 60's. The survivors only want to help Earth but struggle to understand the human wants and desires so latch onto certain humans. The novel starts promisingly, but the pace soon slows to a crawl and by the halfway mark nothing of note has occurred. It becomes clear however that the Gods are shaped by mankinds thoughts and desires, making them very dangerous. Lyons again deals with mass hysteria but without the factual backdrop it sometimes seems a little flat. The ending works quite well, but I still felt the novel was missing the spark usually associated with Steve Lyons.
The Doctor doesn't get much time to shine as Lyons has him taking a back seat for a lot of the novel, but when he is used, he is perfect Hartnell. The companions are Steven and Dodo with the both getting a little bit of background, something missing from the TV series. Both are faithful to the TV show, but neither are that exciting. Dodo could be Ace, or Sam, which is a shame as I'd hoped for some 60's style teenage angst for a change. Steven is shown to be having doubts about travelling with the Doctor, and doubts about the Gods, but aside from that he's a very uninteresting companion on the page.
The supporting cast is sadly cliché after cliché which is a very poor show from Lyons. The Gods are interesting "villains" in that they act upon mankinds desires and thoughts. So whilst not really evil, they have the power to destroy worlds, if that's what enough people desire. It's nice to see human behaviour being the true enemy, but it does feel a little wrong to not have an actual enemy.
Much like both of Steve Lyon's previous novels in the series (The Murder Game and The Witch Hunters), Salvation faithfully recreates the TV era of the day but unlike his previous works it is fairly slow paced at times, with few surprises and cardboard characters. What could have been a great novel turns out to be a little bit of a disappointment and very much a filler book in the range.
I can't really improve on comments others have made except this: Steve Lyons is consistent, he is a great writer that really knows the 1960s characterisation of the 1st Doctor and his companions - and it shows. Some of the other Past Doctor authors are not so convincing. This contemporary 1965 tale featured an american version of the military which bore a resemblance to U.N.I.T. And the more I read General Marchant - the more he felt like a US version of The Brigadier. Possibly inspired by THE WAR MACHINES. It is good reading. The only reasons I kept to a 4 instead of 5 are a) not quite as captivating as the "brilliant" THE WITCH HUNTERS by the same author, b) while characters were spot on 60s, the plot was more suited to 70s characters including "the" U.N.I.T. c) It did get long winded at times. I tend to like maximum dialogue, this sometimes had page upon page of narrative description. But still a high standard of writing and gave some much appreciated depth to the relationship between Steven and The Doctor. Even Dodo was palatable, just.