Doctor Who: Harvest of Time

I’ve finally got a reason to update this blog. I was given the novel “Doctor Who: The Harvest of Time” as a Christmas gift and finally got a chance to finish reading it.

This book written by Alastair Reynolds is an adventure featuring the Third Doctor, Jo Grant and UNIT (the Brigadier, Captain Yates and Sergeant Benton make appearances). In summary, there are strange goings-on in the vicinity of an oil rig off the coast of Scotland. People are being attacked by little metal crab-like creatures called Sild who attach themselves to their victims, putting them under their control. Meanwhile, shady government types are working with an enigmatic fellow who turns out to be – you guessed it – the Master. The Sild eventually target the Master, and the Doctor ends up having to work with him in order to stop the Sild from taking over Earth.

Jo and UNIT didn’t feature too heavily in this one, but whenever they did feature I thought they were completely in character. I could just picture the actors’ mannerisms and hear them saying the lines. The Doctor’s characterization was also well done, as was the Master’s. The author portrayed their banter/sniping back and forth at one another as they’re forced to work together. We also got some glimpses into their history together, and less antagonistic interaction at times that was well done.

I also loved the nod to Jamie McCrimmon in this one. Towards the beginning, the Doctor and Jo meet a character by the name of Edwina “Eddie” McCrimmon, who is the middle-aged daughter of the man who was formerly in charge of the rig. Someone else associated with the rig mentions “McCrimmon” to the Doctor, who replies something to the effect of “I knew a McCrimmon once. Awfully decent fellow.” It’s never said whether this character could have been a descendant of Jamie, but I still appreciated the nod to him here. 🙂 Edwina is a very good, well-rounded character, proving she’s more than able to hold her own throughout all the dangerous predicaments in which she gets herself involved. There was a cool twist later on involving her, although the author seems to telegraph it and it wasn’t as much of a surprise as I’d thought… still, it was pretty well done.

The Praxilions, the aliens to which we get a quick introduction at the very beginning (and which we see much more of in the second half of the book), are pretty interesting characters, as is the history of their planet.

I also liked the nod to the Masters’ other incarnations while he and the Doctor are working together aboard the Consolidator. He sees them all on display and the descriptions bring to mind not only his decaying self from the 4th Doctor’s time (The Deadly Assassin especially), but also the Saxon!Master from the 10th’s era and the more recent Missy.

The only nitpicks I have about this book are that, one, it tends to drag quite a bit in the second half. The action is well-paced in the first half, but once the Doctor and Master are working together, it’s as if the author takes the situation and zooms in on it, slowing down time as he’s doing so (not sure if “time dilation” would be a proper description for this?). It’s almost as if he suddenly realizes it and then quickly rushes to the end of the book. The second nitpick is that the environmental “message” seems a bit heavy-handed. I know it does fit well within this era of Doctor Who (see episodes like “Doctor Who and the Silurians” and “The Green Death”), but the way the author has Edwina giving her press conference at the end and saying the things she does, it’s done in a quite heavy-handed way as if he just wanted to get his agenda out there. I think a more subtle approach would have worked, but I think it might be a casualty of the fact that he’d slowed things down so much earlier and perhaps realized he quickly had to wrap it up. I also found that when she told the Doctor and Jo that her father was actually very agreeable to her new direction with the company a bit hard to believe, given the glimpses of his character we were given earlier. I won’t say any more as I don’t want to make this political in the least. I did enjoy the book; I just couldn’t help being a bit disappointed by these two items.

That concludes my review. I’m about to start reading the Second Doctor book “The Final Sanction” and I’ll be sure to post my thoughts when I’m finished with it.

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