Chapter By Chapter features me reading one chapter of the selected book at the time and reviewing it as if I were reviewing an episode of a TV show or an issue of a comic. There will be spoilers if you haven’t read to the point I have, and if you’ve read further I ask that you don’t spoil anything further into the book. Think of it as read-along book club.
Don’t get me wrong, I don’t hate the new version of Doctor Who, but even before the politics and Timeless Child nonsense I didn’t really get into the show, and I stayed in up through most of Matt Smith’s run. He’s my favorite New Who Doctor. However, it doesn’t have the same charm as the original. Davies wanted to make the mundane scary (especially when it came to ruining Christmas) and Moffat focused on a fairytale atmosphere. Every producer, director, and showrunner has his own take on the Doctor and his world but it wasn’t that specific before. I also think the serial format made the show unique compared to the seasonal arc with one two-part episode format of the new show and maybe the lower budget forced them to take on an imagination level that modern computer effects don’t have to worry about. I’m not saying classic Who is better, just that I kind of prefer it. That’s why I liked that early on this book felt more like classic Who, but that slowly changed as the book went on.
I made a now corrected mistake in last night’s update. The previous chapter was the second to last chapter. Now we’re in the final chapter and the three-page epilogue. That’s means a full review will come up this Sunday over at The Clutter Reports (barring life incidents) but before we can get there we need to find the TARDIS and maybe answer some of the lingering questions of this book. Will that happen? Let’s read and find out.
The chapter opens by showing old Ian’s path to this moment and he really had a crap life though we do learn it was this Ian that met with Barbara’s mother in the prologue and was there when she passed away as Ian kept waiting for the day the Doctor and the others finally returned. It’s all rather sad, but he did find the TARDIS, which in another timeline he would have shown Bamford for one reason or another but thanks to current Ian and Barbara she is able to deal with the shock of being a woman out of time, changing the path of her life. I think this chapter is pushing a better aspect of how Guerrier approached time travel, that we can change the future for the better, which old Ian, Louise, and Griffths have all decided to do, helped by getting a team together of the other vagrants–some Andrewes and others just victims of the Machine getting to think scientifically for the first time since WOTAN took over–to rescue the TARDIS from the Thames. Admittedly I did like that part…though what happens to all of them once the Doctor later defeats WOTAN in “The War Machines“?
The epilogue takes place after Ian and Barbara return to their own time…two years late. And Rose was worried about missing only one. It officially puts the (former?) teachers into a romantic relationship as she brings Ian to meet her mother. It’s a nice ending.
So were any of the lingering questions answered? Not really and kind of. I’m not happy with Guerrier’s concept that the Doctor and crew change history every time they step out of the ship, if only because it pretty much makes the Time Lords right in staying in there rather than getting out and taking part. The Doctor is even afraid of the Time Lords and leaving Susan behind in “The Dalek Invasion Of Earth” is treated here as the Doctor looking to protect Susan from the Time Lords. I guess this is supposed to explain what happened with Louise Bamford’s mom being killed before she was conceived (Louise, not her mum) but it’s not really stated. We do learn that all the vagrants showing up here from alternate timelines was indeed to due Bamford sending the TARDIS through the loop and creating a new grounding point for the time travelers. So things are mostly explained but it still feels like “wibbly-wobbly timey-whimey” explanations at best.
Also of note is that in the “thank you” credits for people who helped Guerrier put together his first Doctor Who novel (and his first novel period since he wrote for audio dramas, including Doctor Who for Big Finish) some of the names of the proofreaders and others, especially Bamford, Kelly, and Griffiths, made their way into the names of character. I think there was an Andrews too.
So what did I think of the book overall? This weekend’s Clutter Report will have the answer to that question. (This is the closest I get to shameless self-promotion…which is one of the reasons the site isn’t more popular I guess.) Next time we reveal the second of the chosen trio for the next Chapter By Chapter.