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Book Review

Book Cover

Doctor Who
Revenge of the Judoon


Author: Terrance Dicks
BBC Books
RRP: £1.99, US $3.95
ISBN: 978 1 84607 372 4
Available 28 February 2008

The TARDIS brings the Doctor and Martha to Balmoral in 1902. Here they meet Captain Harry Carruthers, friend of the new king, Edward VII. But when they go to see the king, Balmoral Castle is gone, leaving just a hole in the ground. The Doctor realises it is the work of the Judoon, a race of ruthless space police. While Martha and Carruthers seek answers in London, the Doctor finds himself in what should be the most deserted place on Earth - and he is not alone. The Doctor and his friends discover a plot to take over the world. With time running out, who will fall victim to the revenge of the Judoon...?

For the third year running, a set of Quick Reads books is being released to coincide with World Book Day (this year’s is on 06 March) with the aim of reaching out to adults who have lost or never had the reading habit and those who feel they never have the time to pick up a book. For the third year running, the selection includes an original Doctor Who novella. For the second year running, the author of this book is Terrance Dicks.

In many ways, Dicks is the ideal Quick Reads author. Not known for using long paragraphs or even particularly long sentences, his prose is approachable, free of pretension and eminently readable (though slightly prone to repetition). Indeed, it’s a pity that so many of his Doctor Who novelisations are out of print (apart from those that have recently been reissued as audio books), as they would provide the perfect stepping stones between short books such as this and full-length novels. For instance, if you’re an emerging reader and you enjoy this book, you might wish to try one of Dicks’s slimmer novelisations, such as Destiny of the Daleks, if you can find a copy at a second-hand dealer. After that, you might advance to plumper volumes, like The Brain of Morbius or The Auton Invasion, and then one of his shorter full-length novels - for example, Players. From there, you could progress to wordier tomes, such as Warmonger and World Game. Before you know it, you’ll be picking up Tom Clancy doorsteps without trepidation!

In common with Timewyrm: Exodus, Players, Endgame and World Game, this book can be described as a “celebrity historical” (a term coined by new series head writer Russell T Davies). It features appearances by not only Edward VII, but also Sherlock Holmes creator Sir Arthur Conan Doyle and Robert Baden-Powell, the founder of the Scout Movement. The Doctor has met Doyle before, in John Peel’s Missing Adventures novel Evolution, a fact that is neither confirmed nor denied here.

Doyle appears only fleetingly, as is also the case with King Edward and especially Baden-Powell. Even the rhino-like Judoon, the vengeful monsters of the title, seem underused. In attempting to cram in so many different ingredients, Dicks does none of them true justice (though he does explain why Earth is outside of Judoon jurisdiction by the time of Smith and Jones).

Revenge of the Judoon would have benefited from fewer story elements and a more focused plot, but, as a Quick Read, it does exactly what it says on the tin.


Richard McGinlay

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