Cards on table: I am a big Dr Who fan and a Moorcock fan from the 70s / 80s devouring all the Eternal Champion books wherever I found them. When I heard of this novel I was both astounded and apprehensive - would this be a Dr Who novel written by Moorcock or a Moorcock novel with Dr Who in it?
Well the novel is littered with the Moorcock trademarks - arrows of law, law vs. Chaos, cosmic balance, multiverse and a character named Cornelius. We also need to bear in mind Moorcock's novel for the film Great Rock and Roll Swindle for which he (essentially) reproduced a Jerry Cornelius tale (though a good one!).
We then need to think back to the good Doctor - I am just listening to the Big Finish Key2Time series, and it is clear that the Doctor as well uses the language of law/order vs. Chaos, multiverse, the Key to Time itself is a balance, so actually the language is not that far away.
The novel itself is well paced, very readable and very funny. In fact I was most struck by the sense that the fantastic comic prose describing the bizarre archaic psuedo-cricket / darts / jousting games of the 'plot' (ignoring the hat) could as well have been outpourings of the pen of the most credible of Dr Who champions Douglas Adams.
As a Moorcock fan, I thoroughly enjoyed the look back to Earth history from the distant future - pure Dancers at the End of Time for those that know their Moorcock.
Why only four stars? Well I think too much was added to the Who universe to set the backdrop for the story; Amy was left as a cypher until suddenly taking her place as a key character for the final third; the Doctor himself seemed to have all the faults of the Matt Smith character (appearance over content) and didn't quite capture his strengths of timing and expression. I also didn't like the self-referential ending which also reminded me of the Runaway Train post-ending (i.e. setting up the story by going back in time after the story happened).
I leave though this thought - we've had the Coming of the Terraphiles, what price the Return of the Terraphiles?
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