About the Author:
George Mann lives near Grantham, UK, with his wife and children.
AVERAGE REVIEW SCORE:
4 out of 5
Doctor Who: Engines Of War
An original story featuring the War Doctor (as played by John Hurt) and set late in the last Great Time War. Weary and embittered from fighting the Daleks across time, the Doctor finds himself on the planet Moldox where he reluctantly befriends a young human woman called Cinder. Together they discover that the Daleks are developing a terrible weapon but soon also find themselves at odds with the Time Lords as well.
In the space of one memorable episode, John Hurt jumped to the top of my list of favourite Doctors, perfectly balancing the old and irrascible characteristics with the sense of humour and childlike glee. I was therefore very pleased to see a novel starring this particular version of the Doctor, set amid the legendary conflict which makes up the (mostly) unseen backdrop to the stories of the Ecclestone, Tennant, Smith and Capaldi Doctors. Here we see the Doctor travelling alone and reluctant to use that name, with the weight of centuries of conflict weighing upon his soul. However, the introduction of the Dalek-hunter Cinder rekindles some of the Doctor's older personality traits and through her eyes we get tantalising glimpses of the true nature of the Doctor.
What I liked most about this book was just how steeped in the lore of Doctor Who it is. On top of telling its own story, it also goes to some length to serve as a sequel to the classic anniversary special 'The Five Doctors' (as novellised by Terrance Dicks), returning us to Gallifrey's Death Zone and revealing the fate of former President Borusa. As well as this, we also get some explanation about how and why the long-dead Time Lord Rassilon is back in charge of Gallifrey (as seen on the TV show where he was played by Timothy Dalton) and the way in which it is his influence which has led the Time Lords astray.
There's plenty of action here, but for me it was the scenes where the Doctor's sense of humour shines through his otherwise grumpy exterior that made for the most satisfying reading. Perhaps the best of this is where he is captured by the Daleks and marched in front of a group of abnormally intelligent Daleks called the Eternity Circle. His first response to his impending doom is to point out that they don't actually form a circle.
Sadly, the ending of the book is a little rushed and feels incomplete, although the latter is due to the fact that it leads directly into the events of 'Day of the Doctor'. However, I'd happily read more adventures featuring the War Doctor but, for now at least, there are No More.
4 out of 5
Doctor Who: Paradox Lost
An Eleventh Doctor (Matt Smith) adventure featuring his companions Amy and Rory. The TARDIS is pulled off course and lands in London in the year 2789. There the Doctor learns that a parasitic extra-dimensional race called the Squall have begun invading London in 1910. He sets off to confront the Squall whilst Amy and Rory try to put a stop to the dangerous time travel experiment which caused the invasion in the first place.
Whilst it could be said that this isn't a particularly innovative Who novel, I have to say that it is a very solid Who story. This is the sort of story which would've played out very well onscreen and makes for a perfectly enjoyable adventure for the TARDIS travellers in prose format. The three main characters are portrayed perfectly (and kudos to Mann for not just making Rory the third wheel, like some authors have) and we're introduced to some interesting new characters in Professor Angelchrist and Arven, both of whom you genuinely develop an affection for despite them being one-time appearances. Mann also does a solid job of building the wibbly-wobbly timey-wimey paradoxical nature of time travel into his plots in a way that would earn Steven Moffat's approval.
Honestly, the only negative thing in this otherwise enjoyable book is the Squall themselves. Their description is entirely generic (they're basically like gargoyles), their motivation is fairly uninspired and the detail of their invasion is so similar to ideas that have appeared before that even the Doctor himself comments on it, noting the time he drove a double-decker bus through a rift in space to foil an invasion of locus-like proportions (see David Tennant's episode 'Planet of the Dead').
4 out of 5