Wednesday, August 8, 2018

"Theatre of War" by Dee

Life is weird, where it takes you. Without going into too much detail, let’s just say health problems interfered. Then I actually LOST our copy of this book! So I had to get back to writing, then get a copy of the book, then read it…

…and it was a lot better than I remember it being, as far as I’d gone into it. (Which was about 100 pages.) I think “Legacy” almost destroyed Dr. Who books for me. I haven’t cared much for Justin Richards before, but this was quite all right, and that’s good enough to get started again!

Ace is still militant in this book, but she’s calmed down a lot and she’s not violent for the sake of violence. Benny does more than drink and grumble about things - in fact, she gets some really good action. And I recognize the Doctor, which is the most important part. Here he is as both Time’s Champion and a chess player on a universal scale, and it works well - especially because there are other chess players around and he knows of and respects them. That part is fantastic!

Don’t get me wrong, I could see most of the way the plot was going for much of the book. I wasn’t particularly surprised by any twist but the closing one, and that one I could look back and see being telegraphed. The supporting cast is straight out of the show. But at this still-early stage, that’s kind of the point - and it’s something Richards tends to like anyway: bring back the feeling that this is an episode that could have been televised. And I had a great deal of fun imagining all of this action taking place on cardboard sets with the synth music blaring.

I really would like to point to good utilization of Benny, here. Yes, there can be issues with “archaeological dig” stories overwhelming the series, and I’ll be sensitive to that, but this time worked really very well. She is allowed to be intelligent, allowed to stretch and use her skills and training. I can see why she became a favorite with the way Richards presents her, and I’m still holding out for a Big Finish crossover with River Song and Benny. After “Theatre of War,” I am a lot more confident that they wouldn’t have to get Paul Cornell to write her in order to have her work well!