I received this classic Doctor Who novel by Mark Gatiss as a gift last Christmas and only got around to finishing it now (I have a real backlog of books … what can I say?).
I haven’t read many Doctor Who novels as it is, and the last ones I had read were both Nu Who stories starring the 9th and 10th Doctors. The Second Doctor and his companions are among my favorites in Classic Who, so I decided to give this a read. This isn’t so much of a long, extensive, detailed review as it is mainly my general thoughts on it.
Basically, the Doctor, Polly, Ben and Jamie end up in London in December, 1648 during the war between Oliver Cromwell’s Roundheads and the Cavaliers who supported the King Stuart. This story is set in between The Macra Terror and The Faceless Ones. I have to say I was impressed. Gatiss does very well with the characterizations of the 2nd Doctor and his companions. Their interactions with one another and the other characters are much what I’d expect. There is a scene I enjoy very much where the Doctor and Jamie are held prisoner in the Tower of London. A watchman and jailer are interrogating them and the Doctor, thinking quickly, decides to tell them that Jamie is a seer who can tell how their situation is going to end up. He refers to him as “The McCrimmon” of Culloden and begs the “great McCrimmon” to tell them how this war will end up for them. Jamie goes along with it, appearing as if he’s in a trance and moaning, wiggling his fingers, the whole act. Their captors fall for it and the Doctor exclaims “The McCrimmon knows all!” I enjoyed their interaction which is right on par during this point in Jamie’s travels with the Doctor.
Ben and Polly of course end up getting separated from them. Polly befriends a young woman whose father is heavily caught up in this business. She then befriends a young Cavalier named Whyte, is recruited to help him and is crushed when she has to betray him in the end. Ben himself ends up at sea on the ship of a Polish captain headed for Amsterdam. He meets an interesting character named Sal Winter, an assertive female captain with a false nose who’s out for revenge against the Polish captain.
There’s a running thread of the Doctor not wishing to change history as you’d expect, and he tries to stick to that as much as possible, even when it appears they might not get much of a chance to pull it off. Even though he and his team are off in their own separate threads, they all come together in the end to set things right. I enjoyed reading this book. It really held my interest and as I mentioned, the characterizations were very good. I know this book isn’t new by any means (it was published in the early 2000s), but if you haven’t read it yet I’d quite recommend it.