Ok so it looks like I'm going to be one of the few who didn't like this book too much.
The story deals with an adventure of the first Doctor and his coOk so it looks like I'm going to be one of the few who didn't like this book too much.
The story deals with an adventure of the first Doctor and his companions Ian, Barbara and Vicki. After the TARDIS transports them to 64 AD Rome the time travelers set out to witness and experience first hand some of the culture of The Roman Empire. Like in any Doctor Who story the Doctor and his companions get into a mess of trouble while being separated from each other. This is a common theme in almost every Doctor Who story of that time.
While I did moderately like the story over all, once it got going, it took a long time to get there. At times I felt like I was trapped somewhere between a history lesson and a religious sermon. There is no doubt that Topping has a great understanding of how life must have been in that time and has great skill in bringing to life a culture that is probably very foreign to the reader, it seemed to me that he dwelled to much on the historical background of the story.
There are some things that are a part of every Doctor Who story, usually there is a mystery unfolding as you read and it needs to be solved. There was no part of this aspect to the story. Instead it just dealt with the experience each of the four main characters had. In that aspect I was not very thrilled with the story. There are certain things you come to expect when reading a Doctor Who story. It could be said that this was a change from that recipe going out side the cookie cutter mold of past stories but one of the reasons a person (myself at least) reads the stories is for that recipe.
The four main characters were ghostly shades of how I know them. I don't pretend to be an expert on Doctor Who but my knowledge of the characters and the story lines is fairly extensive. I've read several Doctor Who novels by various different authors and have seen many episodes including all episodes with the first Doctor so I know these characters pretty well. They didn't do what they would normally do or at least did not react in a way that would be consistent with their usual behavior. He did get the Doctor closer to his character than the others but still missed on him. These were characters I didn't readily know.
Ian ran around like a school boy getting chased by every woman that laid eyes on him. Ian is supposed to be the knight in shinning armor type. He was originally put into the stories to be an opposite to the Doctors frail condition. In this story he was afraid of being overpowered by any woman that came along.
Barbara was pretty close to the character I know but still she waivered too much between the ultra smart school teacher and bumbling naive ditzy woman. Barbara was created to be the consummate damsel in distress but only when her wits could not surpass a physical barrier.
Vicki was always supposed to be the girl out of time, naive but completely super intelligent when it came to mathematics and problem solving. This Vicki was just a whinny little brat. At some point I stopped caring about what would happen to her and determined that anything bad that happened to her, she deserved it.
As I said the Doctor was the closest to the character I know. But even at that he seemed a little wrapped up in how bad things were for him. He felt sorry for himself to much for my liking. The Doctor I know is in control 95% of the time or at least thinks he is. The other 5% of the time he is so caught up in exploring/investigating something he doesn't even seem to notice the rest of the world. But the biggest problem with THIS Doctor is he didn't have to use his intellect or wits to overcome a problem, let alone have a problem. What's a good Doctor Who story if he's not using his head?
Another thing the author did that I found bothered me was he would use Latin at certain times to emphasis something a character in the story was saying. Literally the character would speak in Latin. Here is the problem with that, through a mental connection with the time travellers the TARDIS (the TARDIS is more than a time machine but it is also a living entity of a sorts) automatically translates all words, text, meaning for the travellers and gives them the ability to speak, read any language they encounter. The creators of the series established this to account for why the travellers were always able to communicate no matter where they went. Not only did the creators establish this BUT Topping also mentions it early on in the book. Therefore there should be no reason anybody was speaking in Latin. It should have been automatically translated so it was understood. Look I understand that when reading a science fiction or fantasy story you have to have a certain amount of disregard to things but within the criteria set up by that genre you need to fall in those guidelines. The only possible feeling I got out of it was that the author wanted to show me how talented he was. Instead I felt he was showing off and making a less than enjoyable story for me.
If I were reading this book just as a book on it's own then it may not have been so bothersome to me. However when you decide to write a story about established characters, situations AND you want to keep the same continuity as other stories in the series you MUST stay with the script that has been layed out by so many past stories. There are things that are expected and they need to be present....more
I really couldn't get into this one through most of the book. However it won me over in the last 3 chapters or so. I think those chapters made the booI really couldn't get into this one through most of the book. However it won me over in the last 3 chapters or so. I think those chapters made the book enjoyable for me. ...more