Tuesday, 26 July 2011

The Eighth Doctor Adventures

Revolution Man: A mature piece of work and Paul Leonard’s best novel yet. Basing a book on drug taking was always going to be risky but Leonard pulls it off with real style, mainly because his prose has always had that sort of trippy, hypnotic feel to it that makes the scenes here of people intoxicated so powerful. The regulars are divine and it is astonishing to think it has taken this long to get them this right, but all three of them are vivid and used to drive the story along. The heavily bashed conclusion where the Doctor shoots Ed Hill is anything but disappointing, it’s the sort of sting in the tail these books should all have. Only the relative shortness of the book works against it, this is a storyline that deserves more time to let it breathe. All told, fantastic: 9/10

Full Review here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2009/06/revolution-man-by-paul-leonard.html

Dominion: Sporadically brilliant and dull. If you can get past the first terminally dull 50 pages things improve radically with some lovely gruesome set pieces, marvellous characterisation (you have a pair of excellent wannabe companions in Kerstin and Nagle, both competing for the position of replacement for Sam) and a great exploration of the Doctor’s character. Unfortunately the scenes set in the Dominion are mostly boring, a little too weird for my tastes and not giving you enough to care about. The prose is faultless but not risky enough (plain English…emphasis on the PLAIN) but for a debut novel this shows a lot of imagination and fresh ideas and marks Nick Walters as one to watch out for in the future: 6/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2009/06/dominion-by-nick-walters.html

Unnatural History: There are lots of plot threads, some good (the Faction stuff), some not so good (Griffin and his technobabble hell) and it feels really disjointed because for once in a OrmanBlum book the plot rivals the character stuff for importance. The threats are not intertwined; rather they are like a check list that is ticked off one by one. There are the usual genuine character moments that typify this author’s work but considering they usually torture the Doctor and his companions in horrific ways the three of them get off pretty lightly here, the book unwilling to take the appropriate risks. Dark Sam is a huge let down after so much build up, I was expecting something horrible but instead she just a slightly rougher version of the Sam we usually hang with. I once called this book actively bad and whilst that might have been a bit ingenuous it certainly isn’t good by any means and it is by far the weakest novel to be churned out by the great OrmanBlum machine. Awkward: 4/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2009/06/unnatural-history-by-kate-orman-and.html

Autumn Mist: Bland, clichéd characterisation and sluggish, awkward prose combine with a woefully inadequate plot to make this one of the weakest EDAs yet. It tries to mix the militaristic and the magical but the writer doesn’t have the skill to pull it off (weird because he does so wonderfully in The Eleventh Tiger) and the result is deathly shallow and worse, boring. This was coming out when McIntee was churning out book after book and his natural storytelling capability was bleeding dry, he doesn’t even get the regulars right here which is usually a given in his books. I cannot remember being excited once during this read: 2/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2009/07/autumn-mist-by-david-mcintee.html

Interference Book I: A book that feels really important, that is adult, intelligent and covers a lot of ground. Lawrence Miles is an ideas genius but once again he forgets to write plot around his massive concepts. It’s all set up and no pay off, 300 pages of character/ideas introductions with little happening but finding out more about them. It does get a little dry in places but the prose is mostly excellent with some excellent narrative devices there to make the journey easier (you’ve got lip reading binoculars, scripting, Sarah’s notes, an omnipresent narrator, one scene told from six POVs). Sam is dealt with very maturely, Sarah is amazingly written and it is worth reading just to find out what happens to poor Fitz. It’s a book that cleverly demands that you read the second half and really feels as if it is entering dangerous territory. It isn’t perfect but after a small lull in the EDAs it feels like a massive step in the right direction: 8/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2009/07/interference-by-lawrence-miles.html

Interference Book Two: A very satisfying wrapping up of the zillion clever ideas already set up in book one. The developments for the characters and the EDAs are astonishing, going beyond anything Virgin ever gave us in the ‘Oh my God I cannot believe that just happened to…’ stakes. Fitz’s story is horrible but brilliantly compelling and all the other characters get sparkling moments. The way the third and eighth Doctor’s life melts together is jaw dropping and the amount of surprises is unbeaten by any Doctor Who book to this point. I still have some reservations about the books length (it could have been a 400 page book with some of its flabbiness cut away) but for the sheer breadth of ideas (Miles is confirmed as the ultimate risk taker) this is one of the best Doctor Who novels ever written. A twisted, dangerous masterwork, which was severely underrated at the time and makes for impulsive reading in the twilight of the EDAs: 9/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2009/07/interference-by-lawrence-miles.html

The Blue Angel: Sheer genius from the first page to last, I adored every second of this complex, challenging slice of whimsy. Half of it refuses to make sense, it denies you a satisfying ending and in places it seems to be going off on tangents just for the hell of it but these are reasons to celebrate the book, as it takes risks with its narration and wins through with superb style. All the (brilliant) threads converge in the packed climax and then the whole thing stops, leaving the reader as gobsmacked as the Doctor at how the writers could be so cruel. I have rarely been as eager to find out what happened next or been as happy to be refused that knowledge, I pieced together my own ending with the wickedly playful twenty questions at the end. It is so nice to see the EDAs having some fun; this book is gorgeously written with some stunning set pieces and an infectious sense of adventure. Delightful: 10/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2009/08/blue-angel-by-paul-magrs-and-jeremy.html
The Taking of Planet Five: Great set pieces, terrible narrative, this is a book of a thousand wonderful ideas bound up in near-impenetrable prose. It took me two weeks to read this because it required so much concentration (my average time to read a book is two days) and in places I really struggled to go on. Saying that the best parts of this book are extremely brave, clever and rewarding. I’m sure with some tighter editing this would have been a lot more accessible but it wouldn’t feel half as risky or as unique as it does. This is a bold experiment in a time when the books were finally exploring exciting new ground; it reminds me of the best and the worst of Virgin’s output, challenging work but not recognisably Doctor Who. Maybe that’s a good thing though, I certainly don’t regret polishing this off and I may return to it again one day to see just how daring the books could be: 7/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2009/08/taking-of-planet-five-by-simon-bucher.html

Frontier Worlds: A huge step up from Kursaal, this is an entirely character driven book and on that level it is brilliant, with the regulars being fleshed out with some considerable skill. It is long past time the EDAs had a line up of regulars as good as this, kicking the ass of the Virgin ones because they are not lumbered with soppy Chris Cwej and hard bitch Ace. The plot is made up of lots of gripping and entertaining set pieces which ensure the piece roars by in fine style. It is a fun piece with loads of cool bits (if you get bored just read a few more pages and something enjoyable will happen) and the prose itself is pretty wholesome. Compassion and the axe is so cool it deserves mentioning again: 8/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2009/09/frontier-worlds-by-peter-anghelides.html

Parallel 59: A massively undervalued book. For once an EDA bothers to have an equal amount of solid characterisation AND plot and both prove to be quite surprising in places (Anya’s heartbreaking attempts to get Fitz’s attention, the sudden appearance of the ship from Haltiel). The book is a little flabby in the middle, having set up an intriguing mystery it runs on the spot for a little while offering hints and scraps at what is to come. I never felt this was the work of two separate writers and the prose is very readable, made even simpler by those friendly short chapters (48 in a 282 page book!). The regulars are handled very well and the last 80 pages rocket by effortlessly, full of excitement and great twists. Even the ending is perfect, tragic (the loss of life) and yet strangely uplifting (the loss of the militaristic regime and the suggestions of humility, rebuilding and reunion). I devoured this in a day, aware of a few problems but pretty impressed by the end result: 7/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2009/09/parallel-59-by-natalie-dellaire-and.html

The Shadows of Avalon: It might be a bit awkward in spots but that doesn’t matter at all as this is one of the few EDAs to this point to be touched by a sense of magnificence. For a start the prose is beautiful, rich with magical sights and dripping with emotion and the characterisation is the best we have seen in this series (outside of a Kate Orman novel) with the reader going through every stage of the Brigadier’s tragic road to recovery. The EDAs get a wonderful kick up the ass and it is so joyous to reach the last page (that is meant as a compliment) because I was desperate to know what happened next. It is the novel where the eighth Doctor is finally nailed, as a people person who saves the day by getting close to people and the dawning realisation that this fascinating character can actually work in print is the icing on the cake. Very encouraging: 9/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2009/10/shadows-of-avalon-by-paul-cornell.html

The Fall of Yquatine: Another winner in what is turning out to be a great little run of EDAs. Fitz and Compassion take centre stage again and rarely have book companions been this fascinating, powering their separate plotlines with real style. The set up of having to experience the attack on Yquatine twice is exploited for all the drama its worth and the book never wastes a page in getting into its characters heads and revealing new colours. You can feel how much Nick Walters has improved since Dominion, his plot and characterisation much sharper and clutches of prose that whip the mat from under your feet. It is only the odd cartoonish moment that lets this book down and some moments of overplayed drama. I gobbled this down in a day, it is a remarkably easy book to read and will definitely surprise you at least once. Another confident, well plotted entry and a book that not only exploits the treasures unearthed in The Shadows of Avalon but actually improves them: 8/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2009/11/plot-fitz-is-stranded-on-planet-of.html

Coldheart: Predictable and safe and yet somehow strangely likable, despite the feeling of laziness in the plotting and content it ticks all the right boxes for a ‘classic’ Doctor Who TV adventure (and lets face it, that’s what got us into this lark in the first place!). It is barely endowed with innovation and you can guess pretty much every single twist that’s coming, characterisation is pretty sketchy and the prose is nothing to shout home about but Trevor Baxendale clearly LOVES Doctor Who and his enthusiasm for his material is quite infectious. From no-where the last fifty pages are genuinely excellent, the book kicks into high gear, the deaths are extremely memorable and the plot is tied up very nicely. It is the weakest book for an age, which goes to show how good they have been lately because regardless of its unimaginativeness it is still enjoyable and passes the time: 6/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2009/11/coldheart-by-trevor-baxendale.html

The Space Age: Oh. My. God. This rubbed me up the wrong from the first scene and coming from the usually reliable pen of Steve Lyons it is a double shock. The premise is ridiculous and the book is full of stupid, illogical twists, the characterisation is poor (The Sandra/Alec thing could really have been exploited but it felt really unnatural) and the regulars barely register. There were a few moments where I perked up, mostly when Compassion turned up, even muted as she is here she pisses over all the other characters. This should have thrown in the slag heap the second it hit Steve Lyons desk, the prose is basic, storyline prosaic and considering its placing (in a pretty decent run of books) it sticks out like a sore thumb. Something could have been made of the Makers but not attached to this plot. One of the weakest EDAs I have read yet: 1/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2009/12/space-age-by-steve-lyons.html

The Banquo Legacy: I’m so glad this came along when it did, a complex and compelling read, the penultimate book of the Stephen Cole edited era and helping to round it off with some real style. It reminds me of one of those rare TV Doctor Who stories where everything comes together… and not a foot is placed wrong here from the mix of authors, the choice of narrative device, the pace, the setting, the plot, the gorgeous descriptive prose…it is a pleasure to read from the very first page. The amount of detail is extraordinary and the 18th Century is brewed up with atmospheric ease, I loved every single one of the characters and the horror content lives up to its name beautifully. The first two thirds are like the best Agatha Christie story ever written and the last third is pure Doctor Who madness done with real verve and nastiness. And the fact that it segues into the ongoing EDA arc unobtrusively but pushing along the plot and leaving you desperate to read the next book is the icing on the cake: 10/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2009/12/banquo-legacy-by-andy-lane-and-justin.html
The Ancestor Cell: A chaotic book, needlessly complex but full of fabulous ideas and ridiculously entertaining throughout. Considering what it has to achieve, it dovetails loads of stray plotlines together really well and nothing seems to have been forgotten and for a long term reader there is much here that is rewarding. I loved the pace of the book and found many scenes to be exhilarating and dramatic. Saying that it threatens to lose the reader under too much continuity in spots and the ending does feel like things have gotten out of control for the writers and they wanted to sweep the whole lot under the rug. The writing itself is pretty basic but the dialogue is scorching and many long awaited character confrontations are as electrifying as they should be. It needs one more draft to make it truly excellent (there are some bizarre plotting choices, hopping from one location to another, from one plotline to another) but I have to admit I raced through it in less than a day and found my excitement mounting exponentially towards the climax. A fascinating end to an uneven era, which encapsulates the best and the worst of its period: 8/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2010/01/ancestor-cell-by-peter-anghelides-and.html

The Burning: Glorious, a book that looks to the future (offering us a fantastic new take on the eighth Doctor) and looks back to the past (giving us a traditional Doctor Who story with ALL the trimmings) in all the best ways. This is Justin Richards’ most surprising book, predictable as hell (which he rarely is) but containing some truly atmospheric prose (which he rarely is either!). The characterisation is fantastic and the book is packed full of memorable moments, the enemy is vivid and terrifying and there are a number of deaths that really shock you. This is exactly how the eighth Doctor books should have originally started, with a genuinely unsettling Doctor, some delicious scares and lots of intelligent detail. I really couldn’t put this down. A re-format that works on every level, and leaves you hungry for the next instalment: 9/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2010/01/burning-by-justin-richards.html

Casualties of War: A debut novel to be proud of and a book which continues the Doctor’s 100 year exile with something very special. The story has a quartet of characters (Mary, Cromby, Briggs and Banham) who feel so real they bring the story alive with their thoughts and feelings. It’s a horror story with some real scares, potent moments that will leave you terrified to turn the light out and it isn’t afraid to examine the war with some psychological depth. The prose is gorgeous throughout and the setting comes alive in vivid detail. The real heart behind the book is the Doctor/Mary relationship which is in turns playful, awkward and heart-warming. It is a little light on plot but after some of the complex plotting of the Faction Paradox arc that comes as a most refreshing change. This is a novel about people and on that lever it is a total success: 9/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2010/02/casualties-of-war-by-steve-emmerson.html

Wolfsbane: One of the sparkling diamonds in the rough of an extremely inconsistent year for Doctor Who fiction (2003), this is one of those stories, which reminds you perfectly of why you fell in love with this silly show in the first place. It is blisteringly entertaining with lots well observed comedy moments but that never gets in the way of what is essentially a touching horror story about a lone werewolf. Some moments are astonishingly dark (especially when Sarah gets buried alive…) and Jacqueline Rayner’s descriptive prose is at its peak, immersed in nature and magic. The potentially catastrophic idea of pairing up the eighth Doctor with Harry is pulled off like a dream and they read like they were made for each other. The dual plotlines add suspense to the tale, Sarah discovering more and more horrors just ahead of us experiencing them! Top it all of with fantastic dialogue all around and you have a little gem which rightfully belongs in this (so far) astonishing Earth arc: 9/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2010/02/wolfsbane-by-jacqueline-rayner.html

The Turing Test: Easily the best eighth Doctor book to this point and perhaps (in terms of literary achievement) the best Doctor Who novel of all time. It comes as a shock that something this good comes from the pen of Paul Leonard, not because he is a bad author (far from it) but because he is usually such a strong plot writer rather than a character man and the reason this book works so fantastically is because it examines its characters in such complex and probing ways. Leonard captures three distinct voices beautifully and the dialogue and observations they make take this book into a world of its own. The Doctor has never been more prominent or fascinating and his comeuppance at the climax is both poignant and rewarding. The plot starts off slow but builds to an incredibly memorable finish and the atmosphere of the second world war is captured more atmospherically than any other Doctor Who book I can remember. The eighth Doctor adventures have struck a pot of gold with the Caught on Earth Arc and this is the pinnacle of a five-book stretch of wonderful stories. Stark, brutal and unexpectedly emotional, I love this novel to pieces and ask myself what you are doing reading this silly thread when you could be immersed in its pages. In a way I’m very pleased Uncle Terry is up next because I’m running out of superlatives: 10/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2010/02/turing-test-by-paul-leonard.html

Endgame: And it was going so well…but I suppose we had to be brought back to Earth sooner or later and be reminded that this is a Doctor Who book series where childish, patronising storytelling runs free. This is a quick read if you are after nothing more than fluff but the Earth Arc to this point have been so much more than that. Terrance barely injects any effort into this; it feels as though he reeled it off in a day or two with his standard descriptions and plot mechanics. There is some fun to be had seeing the Doctor meeting up with so many historical figures but much of their characterisation is piss poor, especially compared to the depth of the previous book. The Players are hardly the most fascinating villains to begin with and their worldwide struggle could have been far more interesting than this cartoonish game they play here. A huge misstep for the range, shallow and uninvolving for the most part and wasting time when there is clearly so much more to the Doctor’s exile to explore: 3/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2010/03/endgame-by-terrance-dicks.html

Father Time: Powerful, deep, beautifully written and populated with characters so real you feel as if you know them, this is something very special indeed. It is full of elements that feel traditionally Doctor Who (the alien dictator/rebels conflict, robots, lasers, spaceships…) and yet there is so much here that is fresh and interesting (the heartfelt relationships, Miranda’s coming of age, setting the book over a decade of history) and the mix is quite intoxicating. Peppered with beautiful moments (the rose petal tower, the hover discs rising over the snowy village), genuine emotion (I defy you not to feel something when Debbie is killed!) and cracking dialogue throughout (“The gun works…but it is useless”), this is how good every Doctor Who book should be. This is the EDA equivalent of Human Nature, it feels absolutely right in every respect. I adore it: 10/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2010/04/father-time-by-lance-parkin.html

Escape Velocity: Oh. My. God. Who on Earth thought closing one of the best arcs in any novel range with this ****e? Lance Parkin showed us how traditional Doctor could be done in the novel series with his beautiful Father Time and now Colin Brake demonstrates perfectly why the books shouldn’t mimic the TV series too much. This is bland muck; written so a six year old would feel insulted, with some seriously shallow characterisation, a yawnathon plot, some tedious aliens and a climax that is awful it has to be read to be believed. As an introduction to Anji it sucks (and probably has much to do with her reputation) because it is so poor and she reads as nothing more than a character profile. I cringed with embarrassment throughout most of this book, wanting for it to be over so I could move on to something more interesting. A serious error of judgement, ending the arc on this one, leaving a bitter taste in the mouth after all that sweetness: 2/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2010/05/escape-velocity-by-colin-brake.html

Earthworld: Jac Rayner is clearly finding her feet as an author but there is so much here that is good it is clear she will go on to great things. Her treatment of the regulars is exemplary and she manages to update the new readers about the Doctor and Fitz and re-introduces (as a real person) Anji with effortless ease. She does this without resorting to cheap tricks, getting us close to these people and their insecurities and allowing us to see how much they have lost but how much they gained by finding each other. The book is blissfully funny in places and the main plot regarding the trips is well worth sticking with for the heartbreaking conclusion. The only criticism I have is the prose, which is far too chatty for its own good and the plot, which is thin but made up for by the top-notch characterisation. The end result is an extremely entertaining book, one that clears up a lot of backstory for the regulars and sets them forward for some fab adventures. I found it pretty addictive, especially in the excellent second half and fell in love with Anji all over again: 8/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2010/05/earthworld-by-jacqueline-rayner.html

Fear Itself: One of the best Doctor Who books. A rock superbly plotted thriller, which is loaded with twist after twist that will leave you reeling at its conclusion. There are loads of exciting set pieces, a cast of guest characters that come alive like you wouldn’t believe, a host of fantastic, imaginative ideas, suspense and drama. All this and there is still room to take three fascinating regulars, put them through hell, get up close and personal, and see them emerge stronger and more interesting than they were. The amount of detail that has gone into writing this is rare for a Doctor Who book, the three time zones come alive with astonishing clarity and the prose itself is full of great observations, strong descriptions and a terrifying pace. It really is one of the best Doctor Who books you are likely to read and the one I would personally recommend to non fans who love science fiction. A blistering read: 10/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2010/05/fear-itself-by-nick-wallace.html

Vanishing Point: Reading much fan opinion (stupid me) I expected this to be terrible so imagine my delight at discovering how good it was! My only real complaints surface at the end when you think through some of the answers that were given and realise how underdeveloped they were but considering all the other treats on offer that is hardly the greatest sin. It is surprisingly sensitive in places with some lovely character work that really draws you close to these people and starts to exploit the great potential in the engaging Doctor/Fitz/Anji team. The Doctor has rarely been this fascinating in print. There is much intelligent dialogue too, religious debate that really gets you thinking and some world building that proves quite detailed when seen through the eyes of Etty and Dark, two thoroughly convincing, flawed (in a good way!) characters. The pace of the book is great and there are some wonderfully fun set pieces. Stephen Cole might not be the most sophisticated writer on the planet but by God he can spin a good yarn and ensure that there is never a dull moment and some gob smackingly good ones allow the way: 8/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2010/06/vanishing-point-by-stephen-cole.html

Eater of Wasps: A thoroughly engaging read and packed full of grisly moments that make you go “eugh!” Probably the most traditional Doctor Who story the EDAs have offered up yet but it doesn’t suffer in the way others in this vain have because Trevor Baxendale has latched onto the two elements that make it work, a terrifying possession and an unpredictable Doctor. Lets face it the (guest) characterisation is pretty basic and the location is straight out of the Barry Letts book of Who but those things just don’t matter because the wasps are the star of this book and they are just plain terrifying. There is an abundance of sickly moments that made me squirm and the action never lets up, not for one moment, piling problem after problem. Trevor’s prose is much improved and Rigby’s horrific transformation is described in disgusting detail. The time travellers add another dimension to the book and offer tantalising glimpse into the future. Its so nice to have a book this unpretentious, one that isn’t trying to prove a point or make you go ‘ooh isn’t that clever’ symptomatic of so many EDAs, this is just a bloody good read from cover to cover. Enough said: 9/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2010/07/eater-of-wasps-by-trevor-baxendale.html

The Year of Intelligent Tigers: What an amazing book this is. Kate Orman effortlessly breathes music into her story and creates a world that comes alive in so many ways, more than making up for the fact that we have stuck on Earth for so long. The book is peppered with beautiful descriptions, evocative locations and startling emotion. The regulars are defined magnificently, especially the Doctor who is such a far cry from his earlier persona (for the better) it is impossible to reconcile the two. His negotiations between two explosive camps and his despair at their violent reactions is riveting to read. The Tigers, an idea that could have been so naff, turn out to be one of the best ‘alien’ races we have ever met and the mystery surrounding their origins is well worth sticking around for. I read this in half a day, unable to put it down, captivated by the striking narration and vivid characterisation. It’s a unique piece, nuanced and sensitive, slow and sensual. My favourite Kate Orman book by miles: 10/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2010/08/year-of-intelligent-tigers-by-kate.html

The Slow Empire: I just don’t know what to say. It is not good. There are flashes of imagination and the some cracking jokes but this doesn’t make up for 240 odd pages of nonsense we have to endure. There are some great ideas in here but they are wasted on a slooooow plot and writer who is so far up his own arse he thinks he can get away with prevaricating with pointless asides over and over and over and treat characters as a bunch of random observations. I was waiting for a revelation that would tie this altogether and make it all make sense (in that it isn’t just a bunch of random observations shoved in between two covers…the front one of which is utterly hideous too!) but it never happened and the answers we do get are pretty lame considering the everlasting wait for them. Saying all that, Dave Stone has a mastery over language which verges on the genius with lots of horrifically complicated words cropping up…its just a shame he didn’t bother to use them to write a plot with characters and a point. A huge let down for the range, Stone’s unique view of Doctor Who can be a breathless, invigorating experience but this isn’t going to please either camp, it is neither brilliantly camp and insane or purely traditional and functional…its just sort of there. Achieving nothing: 2/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2010/08/slow-empire-by-dave-stone.html

Dark Progeny: The two problems with Dark Progeny are that after the arresting opening chapter nothing happens until the climax AND it writes out its regulars for 2/3rds of the action, two huge errors that leave the middle sections of this book a real slog. A shame because the plot concerning the alien children is genuinely involving and the characterisation of the Doctor is once again fabulous. Emmerson’s guest characters hold up most of the book, especially Josef and Veta who get a sub plot that deserved much more attention. Some scenes are gorgeously written (such as the telepathic Anji hearing Fitz and the Doctor’s thoughts) which annoys because there is so little plot to get your teeth into but with some major tightening up this could have been superb. There are some wonderful concepts introduced at the end that could have done with exploring further too (the Gaia planet). All in all, a bit of struggle to enjoy because you can see clearly how it could be done so much better: 5/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2010/09/dark-progeny-by-steve-emmerson.html

The City of the Dead: Easily one of the best eighth Doctor book to this point and strong contender for the best original Doctor Who book, this is everything you could want from a novel and more. Lloyd Rose’s prose is a revelation, intelligent, sensual, evocative and risky…she brings New Orleans to life with a real sense of beauty and detail, the city of the dead opens up around you within this books pages. She plants the Doctor at the centre of the novel and allows us closer to him than ever before, his characterisation is absolutely phenomenal throughout and it is clear that although he leaps over this particular hurdle there are still more horrors to come. The plotting is airtight; the characters (even the smaller ones like Flood, Thales and Pierre Bal) come alive in unexpected ways and the levels of emotion the book expresses is extremely potent. Half the time it doesn’t read like Doctor Who at all and that can only be a good thing, this is a stunning novel that restores absolute faith in the range after a couple of clunkers: 10/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2010/09/city-of-dead-by-lloyd-rose.html

Grimm Reality: Imaginative, with a real sense of dark whimsy, I’m glad I gave this book another chance because I have been far too hard on it in the past. It takes a while to figure out Albert but when you do there is a lot of fun to be had here, especially being able to see these dirty fairytales, kids stories seen from the POV of adults is fascinating. The regulars are captured beautifully and get loads to do and the plot is full of memorable sights, challenges and riddles. Against that the book keeps reverting to an interminably boring sub plot on a merchants ship that takes you away from all the fun on the planet and the separate voices of two authors can be easily discerned as the book pulls you in far too many directions to be entirely coherent. Packed with laughs and creativity though, I would still give it a thumbs up and I adored the sections of the plot that lapsed into fairytale style prose: 8/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2010/10/grimm-reality-or-marvellous-adventures.html

The Adventuress of Henrietta Street: Terrifying (in terms of its content and in terms of its content) and unforgettable, this is the ultimate eighth Doctor experience. Defining the exciting, unpredictable new universe the Doctor has found himself in (delightful because Miles has clearly put some real thought into what horrors might lie in a universe without the Time Lords) like no other; this is the sort of book that has been crafted, not written. Packed with sickening images, detailed historical atmosphere, adult relationships and amazing developments, this is my favourite Doctor Who book. Bar none. This is Lawrence Miles’ true masterpiece and the highest level of sophistication the EDAs have ever reached. Challenging and intelligent, it doesn’t get much better than this: 10/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2010/10/adventuress-of-henrietta-street-by.html

Mad Dogs and Englishmen: Delightfully funny and extremely comfortable with its own campness, this is a marvellously brisk read after the fairly torturous Adventuress. You can’t really take any of it seriously but that’s not what we’re here for, Paul Magrs knows how to show you a good time better than any other Doctor Who writer and I haven’t giggled this much in a long time. The regulars are at their all time loosest and we really get to see enjoying themselves and the guest characters (especially the marvellous Flossie and the Noel Coward) all contribute much entertainment. There is quite a complex little plot rattling along here when you dig beneath the candyfloss surface, which ties up beautifully at the end. It isn’t as richly written as The Scarlet Empress or as experimental and risky as The Blue Angel but it is far funnier and easier to read than either of them, making it Magrs’ most accessible book. As long as you can accept the poodles… Another corker in what is turning out to be another very good little run of books: 9/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2010/10/mad-dogs-and-englishmen-by-paul-magrs.html

Hope: Clearly the work of an author trying to impress on his debut solo novel, there are loads of great ideas in here and the plot never stops developing. Hope itself is a beautifully well thought out Doctor Who location full of danger and atmosphere, a deadly setting for this tale of betrayal and conquest. It’s almost a shame that Silver has to become such a predictable villain in the end because he is such a memorable character and for once there is a character that matches the charisma and intelligence of the Doctor. The prose is a little choppy in places and the plot does hop about a bit but none of these matters because the character work is brilliant. Anji is finally treated to a novel that pushes her centre stage and she is every bit as compelling and thoughtful as I new she would be, Mark Clapham should be extremely proud of taking this much loathed character and making her seem more real and complex than any other writer. Her plot brought tears to my eyes at the end. All in all, a compelling read, not an absolute classic (there’s a bit too much going on and with an extended page count it could be explored more thoroughly) but a confident, intelligent read with plenty to admire and enjoy: 8/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2010/11/hope-by-mark-clapham.html

Anachrophobia: The most ingenious use of time travel yet, this is a hugely imaginative and terrifying tale which recaptures all the shadowy horror of those Troughton base under siege stories with an extra dash of gore that makes all the more scary. The book is brilliantly written with a well thought out plot, some marvellously spine tingling moments and spot characterisation of the regulars. The shift of location at the climax is well placed and the Doctor’s final solution is excellent. It is a little hard going in places because the tone is unremittingly grim but I refuse to criticise a book on the grounds that it sticks to its guns (to frighten) and doesn’t try to add any superfluous ‘entertaining’ moments. The last two pages provide a final, electrifying shock and top a nourishing read, full of graphic imagery and a terrorizing atmosphere. It says something about Jonathan Morris' writing that this is the weakest of his three Doctor Who books and its still bloody excellent: 9/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2010/11/anachrophobia-by-jonathan-morris.html

Trading Futures: About as deep as a very tiny puddle, this is the perfect holiday Who novel. There is a fast paced, easily digestible plot, marvellous switches of location, witty lines and some damn good world building. I skipped through it in less than a day, at a loss at how wonderful the team of the Doctor, Fitz and Anji are these days. One thing niggled me, I’m not the greatest Bond fan (which this book is heavily based on) but that is a matter of personal preference rather than a comment on the books quality. Lots of action for those who enjoy it, some cool hardware on display and a great world encompassing war being brewed…its pleasing to note this is one Bond story with a bit of brains, with Anji dissecting the conflict and the players motivations. Enjoyable and funny, although the space Rhino’s were perhaps one joke too many: 7/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2011/01/trading-futures-by-lance-parkin.html

The Book of the Still: How can a book imbued with this much energy have such a mundane first half? The drug-induced prose guides you through effortlessly but it contains nothing but a number of protracted chase sequences! Once the Unnoticed arrives, so does the plot and the second half is excellent, filled with amazing scenes that will make you laugh, cry and tear your head out with the sheer madness of it! This feels like Dave Stone for a more accessible audience and has all the humour, imagination and mind boggling moments that made the former author so popular but connects to its audience with a real sense of heart too, which makes all the difference. Forget the confusing climax and get high on the wealth of memorable moments and hair raising writing style: 8/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2011/01/book-of-still-by-paul-ebbs.html

The Crooked World: The last time I reviewed a Steve Lyons book in the mighty eighth Doctor marathon I considered the worst Doctor Who book I had ever read so how odd that his next entry should be such an amazing piece of writing. Its one of the all time classic Doctor Who books, such a fantastic idea and pulled off with such incredible style. The writing is extremely adult without ever being patronising but still manages to thrill the child in you, with loads of laugh out loud hilarious scenes. The regulars are vital to the plot and each contribute much to the story and characterised (once again) with supreme confidence and the secondary characters all transcend their stereotypes to become living, breathing people who it is impossible not to fall in love with (even the villains). It shares some themes with the film Pleasantville and is just as touching and magical, coming of age never seemed so frightening and delightful. I am extremely pleased with the imagination and humour the range is displaying at the moment, this is another little masterpiece in a consistently excellent run of books: 10/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2011/02/crooked-world-by-steve-lyons.html

History 101: A book which is not afraid of flaunting its intelligence and will leave those behind who wont put the right amount of effort. Saying that, the rewards a manifold; a complex and fascinating plot, some startling ideas, a brilliantly original way of going about exploring a historical event, another excellent use of the regulars… Following hot on the heels of a book that couldn’t be more different, this is an equally thoughtful book which prefers to contemplate rather than thrill and succeeds in intimately exploring the many viewpoints of the Spanish Civil War and continue the eighth Doctor arc plot with Sabbath proving as elusive and dangerous as ever. People say the book has a dry edge to it with documental rather than sensual prose but isn’t that rather the point? By allowing us to see history from so many viewpoints the plot does veer off in far too many directions but I doubt it would be as interesting without this unusual technique. It is a striking debut, layered with meaning and educational, I took my time with it and found it revealing experience: 8/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2011/02/history-101-by-mags-l-halliday.html

Camera Obscura: A magnificent novel, one of the best Doctor Who books published and a really tasty historical with so many memorable passages I would be recounting much of the book to list them all. After you have finished it you realise that the plot is actually quite thin, nothing more than a protracted chase after a time machine but how the book works its way into the running arc of the EDAs turns it into so much more. This book succeeds on the astonishing strength of characterisation and brutally thoughtful moments. The Doctor and Sabbath are explored in considerable depth and any scene featuring the pair is instantly classic, bouncing off each other beautifully. The prose is stimulating, the sheer beauty of the writing results in an effortless read. It the pinnacle of a great run of books, matching Rose’s debut step for step and being the all round best achiever of the ranger since Adventuress. Powerful and involving, read this now: 10/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2011/03/camera-obscura-by-lloyd-rose.html

Time Zero: Shockingly brutal and gripping, this novel has three equally good action plots wrapping around each other beautifully. Written by the range editor, the regulars are every bit as fulfilling as you would expect and given a healthy dose of development. The tone is certainly dramatic, helped enormously by the reverse numbered chapters, which give the constant impression the book is building up to something. Some people complain about the heavy science in the last third but to be honest that was my favourite part, with some mind-expanding concepts being used to strengthen the character drama. The plotting is flawless and the content very adult and the whole thing is enhanced by that superb, almost photographic, cover. Easily the best thing Justin Richards has written to date; I love this book just for the stuff with Anji on the plane: 9/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2011/04/time-zero-by-justin-richards.html

The Infinity Race: The Infinity Race has the unfortunate feeling of being made up as it goes along, the author has sections where he is full of ideas and others where he is bored tit-less and can’t wait to finish the thing off. Consequently the resulting novel is hilarious, boring, imaginative and slow. The switching narrative is distinctive but annoying and it feels like Messingham is trying to be too clever for his own good. Compared to the drama of the last four books this is distinctly substandard with huge stretches of nothing happening to prolong the (admittedly) dramatic climax. I cannot bring myself to loathe the book as individual scenes are pretty good (such as the nasty rich folk riot and the native hunt) but as a whole they just don’t gel as well as they should. Sabbath has lots of great descriptions but this is the first time he has really come across as a pantomime villain. In true season eight fashion, you know he will be back in the next story: 4/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2011/04/infinity-race-by-simon-messingham.html

The Domino Effect: Illogical, unsubtle and so stupid in places it defies logic; this has to be one of the sloppiest Doctor Who books ever written. A fascist state, altered reality, history re-written; clichés all and yet the setting is the strongest thing about the book and its unflinching brutality is quite engrossing in places. The characterisation is weaker than my boyfriend’s tea (yuck) and the prose hardly deserves the term, it is practically the transcript of an untransmitted script! Marvel at the banal dialogue, gasp at the inexplicable climax (how the hell does killing one man destroy an entire reality?) and remind yourself that Doctor Who books are just for really stupid kids after all. Almost so bad its good in places, this continues the shocking decline started in The Infinity Race and proves that this whole altered universe idea was really misconceived: 3/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2011/05/domino-effect-by-david-bishop.html

Reckless Engineering: A massive improvement on the last two books, this is a deftly written piece that takes the alternative reality idea by the horns and shakes so hard lots of interesting ideas and dilemmas pop out. The setting is amazing, a cruel and stark post apocalyptic Bristol lovingly described by Nick Walters in some atmospheric passages. The first half is a strong character piece with some terrifying set pieces and the second, whilst not quite as gripping, is a fascinating trip into temporal madness. The regulars really get put through the wringer here and it is nice to see Fitz given some healthy development, although the dangerous Doctor is a great improvement on the last two books too. The only really annoying aspect is the ending, which is inexplicable and insultingly easy. Despite this, I will still champion this book for its strong prose, excellent dialogue and cleverly crafted plot. This is the book which should have come directly after Time Zero: 8/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2011/05/reckless-engineering-by-nick-walters.html

The Last Resort: The trouble with The Last Resort is that it refuses to conform to standard narrative…you don’t follow characters along a linear storyline. What you have to acccept is that from one scene to the next you might not just be reading about the same character, but a different version of the same character. A fascinating device, confusing as hell, but brilliantly exploiting the alternative universe concept. What makes this book so special is what makes it so impenetrable, if you don’t dissect this hardcore puzzle book completely you’ll miss out on all the rewards. A wealth of brain bursting ideas, a satisfying fractured plot (of which the threads link together beautifully) and a genuine adrenaline rush of tragedy, sacrifice and hopelessness. The stakes have never been this high before and it is pleasing to see some real pay off from this misguided arc. The last third is my favourite, packed with imagination and shocking images. Breathtakingly experimental: 9/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2011/06/last-resort-by-paul-leonard.html

Timeless: Just as the NAs worked when they concentrated on building their own version of the future, the EDAs do their best work on Earth in domestic settings (Vampire Science, Revolution Man The Banquo Legacy, The Burning, Casualties of War, The Turing Test, Father Time, City of the Dead, Advenuress, Camera Obscura, The Sleep of Reason, The Deadstone Memorial and The Gallifrey Chronicles are some the best this range has produced). The Doctor has a cast of wonderfully trendy twenty-somethings here backing him up (Anji, Fitz, Trix, Stacey and Guy work astonishingly well together) and the urban surroundings add a touch of reality to a range, which was slowly going SF crazy (or possibly just crazy). It is another richly plotted story, Timeless has lovely clues planted everywhere and plot threads dovetail together effortlessly. Finally this mighty eighth Doctor arc is building up to its conclusion and the second half of the book is one energetic twist after another (The Time Lords! Sabbath’s plan!). Add to this mix some sizzling dialogue, interesting characterisation (for her last story Anji gets to shine) and lots of moments that remind you how marvellous the central character can be (the Doctor on the boat), this is a confident and stylish piece of storytelling and about as far from the tired hackneyed range as is reputed: 9/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2011/06/timeless-by-stephen-cole.html

Emotional Chemistry: It pains me to punish an author for effort but there is far too much going on in Emotional Chemistry, with a flourish of characters, settings and events that command the readers attention and Forward (agonisingly) injects sumptuous detail into each of them. I just could not concentrate so hard on everything with equal vigour and lost myself in a few places. This is a fascinating experiment with many great, great moments and another excellent plot, which weaves brilliantly through (and justifies) its three time zones. The prose is extremely imaginative and thoughtful, so noticeably colourful that it adds an extra layer of polish to the book. The characterisation rocks and there isn’t one person who rings false (if only there weren’t so bloody many of them!) and the regulars all shine apart from each other, especially Trix who has the ability to convince in all three time periods. Thick with incident, this is a flawed but worthwhile attempt at capturing the feel of Russian literature, unfairly placed between two arc novels and well worth taking your time with: 7/10

Full Review Here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2011/06/emotional-chemistry-by-simon-forward.html

Sometime Never…: Just because its written by Justin Richards that doesn’t make it a bad thing and whilst the grand baddies who have been plaguing the universe these few years or so are revealed to be a bunch of old crystal men who are hardly thrill a minute, that is perhaps the only major disappointment in this otherwise brilliantly climatic novel. It is perhaps the best-plotted Doctor Who book I have ever read, re-reading it proves how not a scene is wasted, every moment is vital to the overall story. The settings here might be small scale but the amount of Doctor Who fiction this encompasses is extraordinary, dragging in plot points from years back (and PDAs too) and turning the entire range into a cohesive whole. The ideas are mind blowing and the revelations in the last third reward the reader for being so patient with this arc and the range(s) in general. Sabbath gets the exit he fully deserves, the Doctor doesn’t escape scott free and there is a real surprise waiting in the last scene (which could potentially annoy but I found it charming). The prose and characterisation is not the best the EDAs can offer (both were better in Emotional Chemistry) but I am willing skip over them because this book got me so damn excited and involved. As a lover of deconstructing narrative, the way everything falls into place is quite, quite stunning: 9/10

Full Review here: http://docohosreviews.blogspot.com/2011/07/sometime-never-by-justin-richards.html

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