Top critical review
An early Doctor Who novelisation
on 5 September 2014
Originally this was one of the earliest Doctor Who stories to be published, long before the Target series of novelisations. It is written by the programme's first script editor who also wrote the very first Doctor Who book, `Doctor Who In An Exciting Adventure With The Daleks'. Unlike his Dalek novelisation, which was radically reworked from the screen version, `The Crusaders' is far less of a re-imagining. There is a certain amount of improvised added content that takes place before the events on screen but this doesn't really have a great deal to do with the plot and does feel a little unnecessary apart from to introduce the characters to the reader in the current book. After that, although there are more alterations than the norm in the Target novelisations, it doesn't vary in any important way to the onscreen version. Some characters receive a somewhat larger roles whilst others are reduced.
`The Crusades', even allowing for the two missing episodes, was never a particularly inspiring Doctor Who story. The novel does little to alter this. Unlike similar `historicals' from the era of the First Doctor, this feels like it is missing a monster. This is mainly due to a lack of a decent major villain such as possessed by `The Aztecs' or `Marco Polo', for example. El Akir seemed a bit of a non-entity in the televised version and the efforts in this novelisation to create a more memorable villainous character feel a bit forced and stereotypical.
The role of the Doctor is also severely limited within this story. The novelisation seems to over emphasise the almost pointlessness of the Doctor being involved in the story.
Opposed to this though is that this is a strong story for Ian and Barbara with the novelisation focussing on them even more than the television version. This book should have more appeal to those who are particular fans of these two companions.
Although the novel has its moments it is nowhere near as good as Whitaker's `In An Exciting Adventure With The Daleks'. Even so it is well worth reading due the loss of two of the television episodes.