Saturday, December 24, 2011

TimeWyrm: Exodus

Ahhh... now this is much, must more like it.

Don't get me wrong, there were still off notes... such as the mischaracterization of Ace. (Really, Ace screaming? Not even when she was surrounded by shouting Daleks.) But this felt like the work of someone who knew the Doctor, knew what he'd do, knew his conflicts and wasn't afraid to let Seven be Seven.

A lot of this book was better, honestly, because the villain wasn't right there and we weren't right in her head. There are three things that can happen when an author gets into the villain's thoughts: first, the villain becomes sympathetic. Second, most commonly, the villain becomes a flatter, mustache-twirling baddy. Third, most rarely, the author strikes a balance.

Dicks avoids all this by simply staying out of her head, unlike Peel, who fell into the second category. We don't need to know what Qadaka is thinking to enjoy the story. In fact, it's counterproductive. She doesn't seem to be able to say or think much beyond petty revenge and conquer thoughts, so why bother?

Instead, he focuses on the results of what happens when a force of nature meets a bad Timelord and an alliance is formed. And he goes where Doctor Who rarely went before this: Nazi Germany. In fairness, it really had to be set in this time and place. While there have been madmen throughout Earth's history who might have fit the bill, the best known of them would be Adolf Hitler... and that goes beyond any residual British frisson at the thought of losing the war, a feeling which 70 years and another continent away isn't as strong.

This is not an artistic novel. This is simply solid storytelling, good craftsmanship, from someone who knows what he's doing.

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