Hey folks, Dale here, and here I have the honour of reviewing the newest BBC book release ‘Doctor who: Engines of War’, by George Mann, which for the first time depicts one of the most mysterious and unknown periods in the history of Doctor Who- The Time War. In this story we see the return of the War Doctor, as played by John Hurt in the 50th Anniversary Special, The Day of the Doctor, as he struggles to fight the endless war of the cosmos between his people, the Time Lords of Gallifrey, and his bitter enemies, the Daleks of Skaro.
This story is rather awesome folks. Not only is it great to have more of the War Doctor but we see the Daleks in their prime, they’re pretty damn scary in this story, and we get to see many myriad forms of them, several of which are brand new, never seen before, including one which is essentially a Modern Who interpretation of the Special Weapons Dalek which should please McCoy era fans.
Much of the story is actually told through the eyes of the Doctor’s newest companion, a young red headed girl called Cinder. An excellently crafted character that you can quickly latch on to and sympathise with, she’s a person who has been forged by her experiences and made into something full of veangeance in this war, and her story really parallels well with the Doctor’s, and their dynamic is rather fun to see play out, the young fiery girl with the older gruff doctor, two opposites, and yet both soldiers with striking similarities. It reminds me of an interesting twist on the First Doctor-Susan relationship.
This story actually has many pleasant surprises in it, as it has a few certain characters that you really may not be expecting to turn up but it’s great to see them and very interesting the way their stories transpire and where they go. It’s a treat for both Classic and Modern fans, with the story acting as a bridge between the two and melding them well for the most part. It explains many things that were not in the show itself, such as how Rassilon was brought back for the Time war for example, as well as several other things that fans may have probably guessed already, but it’s nice to have that official explanation.
The plot I personally really liked. The Daleks’ have their own masterplan in motion that has sinister implications and layers which are revealed more and more as the story goes on, and we also see how far the Time Lords have fallen as a society and the lengths they will go to for the simple ideal of victory. Their own plans are shockingly immoral, but we also see little references to things that are alluded to in The End of Time.
And one of the main factors of the story is seeing what ultimately causes the Doctor to say “No More” and decide to end the war, the event which pushes our hero over the line and willing to commit double genocide.
I personally quite liked how it transpired, and to my own personal tastes, it fit.
Some negatives I shall say is that in my own copy of the book, there were several grammar mistakes. And I would be fine with just one or two little errors in which a word has a missing letter, but as the story went on, I kept noticing more and more little grammatical inconsistencies. They don’t ruin the story, but they are a little annoyance.
I also think that at times the story feels just a little rushed, like they were trying to fit in an epic story into a 40 minute TV episode, despite thefact it’s in novel format. Again, it may seem like a little nitpick but there were a couple of instances where I would have preferred the writer take more time with the characters and events and just develop the quieter moments more, but that’s just me.
Overall summary though folks, this is a great book. It sheds some light on an era of the Doctor’s life that we’ve been desperate to know about for nearly a decade now, and it has some great interactions with both new and familiar characters, of which they are interesting continutions from Classic continuity and they also tie in well to their Modern Who appearances, and it’s just phenomenal to get more of Hurt’s War Doctor, whom George Mann has a brilliant voice for.
Is the story a 10/10 perfect score? Sadly no, but it is up there as a great experience that sucks you in to keep reading that next page, and an awesome entry into the Doctor Who mythos, and I do so hope that there is more to come from the Time War and the War Doctor’s adventures.
I give Engines of War an 8/10