Doctor Who

Author: James Swallow
BBC Books
RRP: £6.99, US $11.99, Cdn $14.99
ISBN: 978 1 84607 349 6
Available 27 December 2007

The peace and quiet of a remote homestead in 1880s America is shattered by the arrival of two shadowy outriders searching for “the healer”. When the farmer refuses to help them, they raze his house to the ground using guns that shoot bolts of energy instead of bullets... In the town of Redwater, the Doctor and Martha learn of a snake-oil salesman whose patent medicines actually cure his patients. But when they investigate, they find the truth is stranger and far more dangerous. Caught between the law of the gun and the deadly plans of intergalactic mercenaries, the Doctor and Martha are about to discover just how wild the West can become...

James Swallow already has a couple of Big Finish Doctor Who audio dramas (Singularity and Old Soldiers) to his name, as well as several short stories in the same company’s Short Trips range of anthologies, but Peacemaker is his first actual Who novel. However, it is clear that he knows the show well. He is also very familiar with the Wild West genre, having penned several novels in the Sundowners series of steampunk Westerns.

The Doctor has visited the Old West before, in The Gunfighters, and the author acknowledges this fact when the Time Lord says of the gunfight at the OK Corral: “Been there, done that.” Other continuity references include throw-away name checks of the Silurians, the Isop Galaxy and the Starship Brilliant from the preceding novel, Simon Guerrier’s The Pirate Loop. As in Guerrier’s book, the Ood are also mentioned, perhaps with the intention of building towards the creatures’ return in Series 4.

The story itself sits comfortably amid the plot developments of Series 3. When the Doctor isn’t around, Martha displays a level of bravery that shows she is well on the way to becoming the heroic character seen in Last of the Time Lords. Meanwhile, the Doctor goes through agony once again and, as in 42, struggles against a powerful alien influence.

The tone of the author’s writing during a section of explanatory backstory about the alien invaders mimics the style of Executive Producer Russell T Davies very effectively. It exhibits the same kind of mythic quality as we have seen in Davies’s “Meet the Doctor” article concerning the Time War in the 2006 Doctor Who Annual and in The Sound of Drums when the Doctor discusses the Master.

Meanwhile, boxes ticked in terms of the Western genre include an unscrupulous travelling salesman with a native sidekick, a duo of lethal outriders, a kind-hearted schoolmarm, an orphaned teenager and an abandoned mine.

Despite all the unpleasant events that take place during this novel and the two that precede it, Peacemaker, as the final book in this batch of three, ends on a positive note, reminiscent of the closing space montage from The Time Meddler and many a Terrance Dicks novelisation. Blessed is Peacemaker, for it will be called something good. Darned tootin’ it will!

Richard McGinlay

Buy this item online
We compare prices online so you get the cheapest deal! Click on the logo of the desired store below to purchase this item.

£4.19 (Amazon.co.uk)
£4.19 (Waterstones.com)
£6.99 (Countrybookshop.co.uk)
$9.40 (Amazon.com)

All prices correct at time of going to press.