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TOP 50 REVIEWERon 17 April 2013
This book, originally published in 1998, has been republished as part of the 50th anniversary celebrations of Doctor Who, and epitomises the Second Doctor story of choice for those celebrations. Justin Richards has written a lot of books, including a lot of Doctor Who novels.

In the canon of Doctor Who, this story is set to occur after The Ice Warriors, and features the Second Doctor with Jamie and Victoria. The Doctor and his friends land on a prison planet, where the prisoners and the guards have their own routine. But that's all about to change, as the politics of a large and powerful Republic impinge on honour and glory, and ambition and greed come to the fore. But, as with all Doctor Who stories, nothing is ever quite as it seems, and this story has plenty of twists and turns before it all comes to a satisfactory end.

The humour of the Second Doctor is nicely captured in this story, as are the gestures and mannerisms that Patrick Troughton so neatly put into his characterisation. This is a really good Doctor Who story, and one I'm glad I had the chance to catch up on. Totally recommended.
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on 29 March 2014
• I found this story to be slow and difficult to get into for about the first 70 pages. And the Doctor still running away from guards after Victoria’s capture did not strike me as realistic for him.
• Victoria – never the most independent of the screen companions, she is portrayed as less of a screamer here. But she still doesn’t actually do much except what the Doctor tells her to. Also, Helana Trayx could’ve been developed more as a character.

• I was able to work out most of the twists in advance, including the identity of the main villain. The trick is to pay attention to how certain characters speak, such as Prion. However, on page 147, I’m not sure that the identity of the expected ‘her’ is ever revealed…
• The VETACs. For a change, the Doctor has to fight against an enemy that can’t be totally stopped. It’s the battle scenes, and how the TARDIS crew and those with them survive that lifts the second half of the book.
• The characterisation of the 2nd Doctor is spot on. Milton Trayx, invented for this novel, is a thoroughly likeable character also.
• The interrogation scene involving Tordoc. This twist did take me by surprise. Well played, Mr Richards!

In summary, a reasonable book. But for those eager to know the answers to the book’s mysteries may find the pacing slow at times.
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on 31 May 2013
This book is amazing. I will admit, I found it difficult to get into to start with, but after a couple of chapters, I really found it hard to put down! The Second Doctor is written well and you can really imagine it is him. Jamie and Victoria are likewise written well and given more than enough to do. This book is a good example of the Troughton's, 'base under siege' stories. I wish this had been on Television. This book is amazing and will leave you wanting more.
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on 1 June 2014
The biggest success of this book is that it, against the odds, succeeds in presenting a highly recognisable Second Doctor with both his surface image of a fool and his sub surface cunning.
This is quite achievement, as the author points out in his introduction, because Troughton’s Doctor’s deeper side was portrayed through his expressive face much more than in novel friendly dialogue.
However the book also succeeds in being equally successful in replicating two the TV show’s most common plot flaws. Firstly the Doctor pretty much works out who the main villain is but decides not to mention it to anyone for a while. Secondly the old chestnut of ignoring the option of getting everyone into the Tardis, and flying off before more bad guys arrive, rears its head here. Indeed it rears several heads which all scream loudly at you. Faced with a communications blackout, and a ship with up to 1048 hostile robots heading their way, but still a whole day away, the protagonists decide to ignore both the Tardis and another (admittedly small) perfectly working ship they have on hand and decide to get a good night’s sleep instead….
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on 15 June 2000
Justin Richards does it again with this atmospheric novel about politics and war. Anyone who has since listened to his Big Finish CD "The Whispers of Terror" will keenly note the parallels. His characterisation of the Doctor is spot on. Jamie and Victoria come off well too and are given a lot ot do. The most powerful aspect of the book is the carefully woven chess imagery which pulls the plot together. Despite the static setting, this is a fast paced Who which I would have loved to have seen on screen as part of the 1967-68 season.
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on 28 November 2013
Troughton's Second Doctor, Jamie and Victoria are probably my favourite trio in the show, and they work very well here. The author has crafted a clever adventure story, very much in the "base under siege" style of mid-era Troughton. The supporting cast is cleverly done, though I initially got a bit lost as to who was who. The battles, adventures and over-arcing plot are well done, and the characterisation and dialogue really makes it feel as if the 2nd Doctor, Jamie and Victoria are there before you.

Negatives? The Doctor's handkerchief seems a bit over-used, I couldn't remember who the revealed character at the end actually was, and the action does drag a bit in the middle. I also felt that it was mainly my already-extant love for this group of characters that made me care what happened to them, rather than how they are portrayed in the book.

But those are minor gripes, and this is a very good book!
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on 13 September 2015
Awful confusing storytelling by an author whose out to show us how clever he is . A good Doctor story , like others , should have a beginning, middle and an ending. This has none of these and reads like some ponderous historical novel. I`d just read "Engines of War" prior to picking this up, so I`ve probably raised the bar a bit too much before reading this dross.
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on 29 July 2013
This was a pretty gritty, second doctor story. Lots of good characterisation and action.

The plot was a novelty blend of I Claudius, The man in the Iron Mask and various space marine movies.

I'm catching up on many of the older Dr Who novels and it was good that this chap warranted a reprint for the 50th anniversary.
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on 5 December 2013
A thoroughly enjoyable romp with the Second Doctor and companions Jamie and Victoria where we get to see what could have happened if Ceaser's crossing of the Rubicon had failed. Very much Rome meets the Terminator with added chess.
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on 12 September 2013
Dreams of Empire is a Past Doctor Adventure featuring the 2nd Doctor and written by Justin Richards. This novel was chosen to best represent the 2nd Doctor in the 50th Anniversary Collection so expectations are high before you start out and luckily they live up to it.

The story isn't a standard 2nd Doctor romp featuring the battling of an alien race of the week, but rather a political thriller. The novel starts by introducing us to 3 friends who are Consul's of a Republic and in the midst of a grasp for total power by one of them (Kesar). The others vote against him throwing the Republic into civil war. It then moves forward to a castle in space, where the TARDIS crew land and meet with Trayx, one of the Consul's opposed to Kesar and discover the castle is a prison for Kesar. The trouble is there's been a murder and Trayx thinks Kesar will be next. Soon a ship approaches, bringing with it robot soldiers, hell bent on destroying Kesar and whomever gets it their way and from this point on the novel is a distinctly "base under siege" type story you expect from a novel set in series 5.

Dreams of Empire really does hit the spot story wise and Justin Richards is to be praised for essentially writing a Doctor Who thriller and pushing the boundaries of established Doctor Who. There are few boring bits, with the pace being just right to keep you wanting to read on. The twist and turns which come with this sort of fiction are aplenty, and I didn't see the final twist coming despite it being glaringly obvious. A true talent.

The Doctor is done very well indeed, probably the best version of the 2nd of the range so far and this isn't an easy Doctor to write for so Richards gets points for this. There are wonderful bits with him acting the clown involving sandwiches and walking into broom cupboards, which just screams Troughton and made me chuckle. Companion wise we have Jamie and Victoria, both faithfully recreated from the TV series. Jamie is a little bit brash for more liking given the time frame this story is set, he is much more reserved in The Roundheads which was set before this story, but it isn't a major thing. Victoria is just as she would be on screen, semi-useless and screaming a lot which is good in one way, but I did find her bits a little boring. Supporting cast wise it really is political thriller by numbers, but the stereotype characters are fleshed out to give them a decent enough backstory so that you care about them and know who is who. The initial chapter gives backstory to the Haddron Republic and this in itself makes you care more about the present events.

Dreams of Empire is a well written 2nd Doctor novel which bucks the trend of the "monster of the week" type stories usually associated with the era. As such it is a refreshing read, and it's clear to see why this was chosen to represent the 2nd Doctor in novel form for the 50th anniversary. Highly recommended to all.
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