Doctor Who
The Eleventh Tiger

Author: David A. McIntee
BBC Books
RRP 5.99, US $6.95, Cdn $8.99
ISBN 0 563 48614 7
Available 03 May 2004

The First Doctor, Barbara, Ian and Vicki arrive in China in 1865, a land torn apart by rebellion, foreign oppression and banditry. Struggling to maintain order are the British Empire and the Ten Tigers of Canton, the most respected martial arts masters in the world. But why do people seem to recognise Ian, and can it be that Barbara has seen a ghost...?

With the publication of this book, David A. McIntee has now written novels about each of the television Doctors - well, apart from Christopher Eccleston, of course, as the author wryly comments in his afterword.

He captures his chosen TARDIS team well. The Doctor is crotchety yet sprightly, fluffing his words amidst sparks of inspirational genius. McIntee, a man who loves his action sequences, brings to mind umpteen martial arts movies and also Yoda in Attack of the Clones when the elderly Time Lord uses his brains to match the brawn of a much younger opponent.

The author is also an incurable romantic, who depicted Ian and Barbara as man and wife in his novel The Face of the Enemy. He foreshadows that marriage in this book, as the couple declare their love for each other in no uncertain terms. Their affection, and the pain they experience in separation, makes for several riveting sections. Having said that, I do think that some of Ian's actions go a bit too far.

Meanwhile Vicki, as the newest addition to the crew (this story taking place not long after The Romans), makes a few blunders regarding the 19th century's level of technology.

Allusions to ghostly goings-on, plus the presence of some glowing-eyed monks and two Chestertons, mean that this is not a purely historical adventure. The involvement of the two Chestertons brings forth a dilemma that echoes events in the Davison serial Mawdryn Undead (though it proves to have rather a mundane cause). However, the essence of the Hartnell era is encapsulated in several educational passages, including discussions about the Chinese Festival of Hungry Ghosts and the theory of stone tapes: electrical "recordings" held in brick walls, which can be picked up and "played back" by the human brain.

I have to confess to being hitherto ignorant of the life and (interesting) times of Wong Fei-Hung. I therefore found that the author didn't give me quite enough historical or political background information to fully comprehend events to begin with.

Nevertheless, The Eleventh Tiger is an intriguing tale of love, honour, clashing cultures, mystical powers and martial arts.

Richard McGinlay

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