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Book Review

Book Cover

Doctor Who
Prisoner of the Daleks


Author: Trevor Baxendale
BBC Books
RRP: £6.99
ISBN: 978 1 84607 641 1
Available 16 April 2009

The Daleks are advancing, their empire constantly expanding into Earth’s space. Earth forces are resisting in every way they can, but the battles rage on across countless star systems. Now the future of our galaxy hangs in the balance... The Doctor finds himself stranded near the front line with a group of ruthless bounty hunters. Earth Command will pay them for every Dalek they kill, every eye stalk they bring back as proof. With the Doctor’s help, the bounty hunters achieve the ultimate prize: a Dalek prisoner, intact, powerless, and ready for interrogation. But where the Daleks are involved, nothing is what it seems, and no one is safe. Before long the tables will be turned, and how will the Doctor survive when he becomes a prisoner of the Daleks...?


Barring the occasional silliness, such as The Chase and Daleks in Manhattan, usually when the Daleks reappear, things get serious and grim. People die. Companions leave. Sometimes companions die. This novel, which is unusually grown-up in its writing style and story content, is no exception.

The tone is established early on, when the Doctor encounters a rough band of bounty hunters - think Aliens meets Abslom Daak, Dalek Killer. One of their number is a nice, caring young medic called Stella. She seems like ideal companion material, but then she is killed - which certainly came as a shock to me. Other members of the team are picked off one by one as the narrative unfolds.

The Daleks’ recent television exploits have tended not to leave much room for licensed fiction to fit in between, due to either the apparent total destruction of the species (at the end of The Parting of the Ways and Journey’s End) or close continuity ties between one episode and the next (the emergency temporal shifts that link Doomsday to Daleks in Manhattan and Evolution of the Daleks to The Stolen Earth). Therefore, author Trevor Baxendale has the TARDIS accidentally jumping a time track to a period before the Time War, with the Daleks engaged in battle against Earth forces. Curiously, once in this era, the Doctor exhibits no compulsion to visit the presumably extant Gallifrey.

Though pre-Time War, the Daleks have by this point in their history evidently undergone their new series “makeover”, possessing such capabilities as personal force fields and rotating mid-sections, though Baxendale alludes to several classic as well as new series Dalek episodes. As in The Daleks, the Doctor and a companion are thrown into a prison cell fitted with a security camera, while another team member’s legs are paralysed by Dalek gunfire. As in The Dalek Invasion of Earth, the creatures are mining a planet’s core. Whenever a Dalek speaks, the font used resembles the jagged lettering seen in Dalek comic strips since the 1960s, which is a nice touch. Much of the first part of the novel revisits Jubilee and Dalek territory, as the bounty hunters take a Dalek prisoner and use torture to interrogate it (calling into question the relevance of the title Prisoner of the Daleks), but the second half takes a very different turn, visiting an awesomely strange planet.

If you’re a fan of the Daleks, this book will make you its prisoner.


Richard McGinlay

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