Thursday, December 18, 2014

Doctor Who: Engines of War - A Book Review

The Great Time War has raged for centuries and across millenniums. Scores of worlds have been destroyed by the machinations of both The Daleks and The Time Lords. And it is in The Tantalus Eye - a nebula now dominated by Dalek forces - that the Time Lord once known as The Doctor crash-lands after the fleet of Battle TARDISes that he was leading is destroyed.

It is on the world of Moldox that he will meet Cinder - a human Dalek hunter rebelling against the occupying Dalek forces.  This puzzles the Time Lord, as Daleks never use slave labor unless they are building something. But what could they be building on the outskirts of the galactic rim?

The answers will unearth a terrifying secret and send the two warriors from the slums of Moldox to the gleaming towers of Gallifrey and back. For The Daleks are not alone in having secrets. And in order to save billions of lives, an embittered old soldier must become The Doctor once more.

The most regrettable thing about Engines of War is its finality. It spoils little to say that this story is The War Doctor's lead-up into the events of The Day Of The Doctor and we get to see the exact chain of events that lead to him uttering the immortal words 'No More". This does make the climax of the book somewhat predictable, as the exact ending is clearly foreshadowed.

The events leading up to that ending, however, are some of the best writing I've seen in any Doctor Who novel to date.  And George Mann is to be hailed for how much drama he wrings out of what could have been a dry, by-the-book pastiche. Gruff and crusty though he may be, The War Doctor is still a likable hero and Cinder is now on my top-ten companions list.

There's a fair amount of continuity for long-time fans of the series, but nothing newcomers will prove unable to cope with.  Fans of the classic series will no doubt enjoy the references to The Five Doctors and The Deadly Assassin. And if nothing else this book is noteworthy for confirming that the Rassilon we see in The End of Time is indeed THAT Rassilon and that the depravity he got up to behind closed doors was even worse than the plans he discussed openly.

Bottom Line: If you're a Doctor Who fan of any age or era, you should check out Engines of War.

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