Doctor Who
Blood and Hope

Author: Iain McLaughlin
Telos Publishing
RRP 10.00 (standard hardback), 25.00 (deluxe hardback)
ISBN 1 903889 28 6 (standard hardback)
ISBN 1 903889 29 4 (deluxe hardback)
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The Fifth Doctor, Peri and Erimem find themselves caught up in the unrest of the American Civil War. While the Doctor manages to cope in his own inimitable way, Peri - an American - and Erimem - a dark-skinned Egyptian - are deeply affected by the horrors and hatred of this troubled time...

Like its contemporary in the BBC Books range of Doctor Who novels, Empire of Death, this book makes good use of the journal format. In fact, Iain McLaughlin tells his tale entirely in the form of letters, diary entries and published declarations. The result is a moving narrative that offers the reader an intimate insight into the hearts and mind of characters affected by the traumatic upheaval of the civil war. In particular, we see the shocking transformation of one particular combatant, from a jocular correspondent to an abused husk of a man.

Like Nyssa in Empire of Death, Peri records an account of her experiences. Like Nyssa, she is given cause to wonder whether the Doctor feels the same degree of emotion as we humans do, or whether he feels somehow aloof or distanced from we lesser beings. She also paints a vivid impression of the almost sisterly relationship she enjoys with her fellow traveller, Erimem.

The presence of Erimem continues the trend for cross-pollination of concepts and characters across the various ranges of licensed Who fiction. For the uninitiated, this ancient Egyptian character was introduced in the Big Finish audio drama The Eye of the Scorpion, also written by McLaughlin, and she has accompanied the Doctor and Peri on several subsequent adventures. The author handles the regal character well, which is hardly surprising, since he created her. Those of you who are unfamiliar with the relevant Big Finish releases need fear not, for Peri's diary entries explain everything you need to know about Erimem in an unobtrusive manner.

The villain of the piece is rather over-the-top. The dangers faced by Peri and Erimem would have been just as palpable without such an extreme personification of race hatred and violence. Nevertheless, this is an evocative and unpretentious tale of bigotry and wartime adversity.

Richard McGinlay

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