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The Fall of Yquatine

Doctor Who: The BBC Eighth Doctor Adventures #32
Matthew Carr

I usually find that the EDAs fall into one of three categories, 'Superb' ('Alien Bodies', 'THe Blue Angel'), 'Dire beyond belief' ('Parrallel 59') or 'Just plain bland' ('Dreamstone Moon'). Nick Walters' 'The Fall of Yquatine' somehow defies categorisation. It certainly isn't the worst book in the series, but its' faults are many and varied.

The Doctor brings Fitz and Compassion to the planet of Yquatine to find a randomiser for Compassion, in the hope of evading the Time Lords. Soon however, Yquatine is attacked and the travellers get separated in both Time and Space. From page one, things did not bode well. A vast, multi-cultural setting like Yquatine needs to be done very well to be convincing, but sadly the various alien races which inhabit the planet and its' system are barely sketched out in any detail, and I found it hard to follow which member of which race was doing what. If there's one thing that bores me to tears, it is science fiction novels which go on in minute detail about the pain-stakingly worked-out life-cycles and societies of alien races, all of whom have ridiculously 'alien' names like Squiglessstisticks or 7*A*!&&!! of the Korshakk race. I mean, just shut up! When it is done effectively (for instance, just about any of Paul Leonard's novels) then this can be fascinating, but it is fair to say that 'The Fall of Yquatine' fails miserably. Without the thought and detail we're left with a collection of generic aliens with ridiculous and instantly forgettable names, whose personalities and behaviour are so similar to the human characters that Walters may as well have not bothered.

This lack of detail extends to the characterisation, easily some of the least effective in the entire series to date. Characters are poorly sketched and seem to change their behaviour and their motives at the drop of a hat. Crucially, there is no emotional resonance at all. Compassion's plight in the Time Vortex (she is lost in time for decades) is sure to have had a deep emotional and psychological impact on the character, and yet it is barely referred to, never really seen, and the greatest insight we get into this tormented psyche is her saying something along the lines of "It really messed me up", which frankly does not cut it. Fitz's romantic interest of the week, Arielle, is another great example of this - her ultimate fate is clearly meant to be very emotive, but she's so poorly written that I really can't bring myself to care. The only real exception to this poor characterisation is Fitz, who once again shines through and proves himself writer-proof, although quite how he got from maybe fancying Arielle a bit to being in love with her and falling apart when she dies I have no idea. Perhaps I blinked and missed it.

There is a lot to like, and the novel shows a lot of promise, but it ultimately lets itself down. The basic plot is fine in principle, but sadly let down in execution. There are several moments of sheer brilliance - Compassion trying to murder Fitz, for instance, but these are far too rare to count for anything. There are several very interesting ideas swimming around in here - a President acting entirely for selfish reasons and abandoning a planet to chase the girl he loves, Compassion's lost decades, the Omnethoth, Fitz's role in a paradox - but they're all ultimately wasted, squandered in between the terrible, grandiose, self-important prose. If Walters had concentrated on one or two of these ideas, and explored them fully, then the book could have been so much more satisfying. Criminally, the most interesting and fun new character, galactic Time-Tech black marketeer and pie seller Lou Lombardo is forgotten about halfway through the novel, and things become very confused towards the rather rushed ending. The most worthy addition that 'The Fall of Yquatine' can make to the ongoing canon is a fairly neat explanation of how Grace and Chang Lee were resurrected at the end of the 1996 TV Movie, and a little bit about the future of the Krotons.

Despite all the rubbish, I kept coming back, and finished the novel quite quickly. But this could have been so much more effective. For people who like things to be neat, concise and categorised - 4 out of 10 for effort, but you might prefer to go and read a nice PDA instead.

Joe Ford

Nick Walters isn’t a name you hear mentioned when top flight EDA writers are discussed which is a shame because he is far more worthy a writer than his reputation suggests. That he is a good writer isn’t in doubt but what is rarely mentioned is that he manages to create some truly interesting situations for the regulars to get embroiled in. His prose has improved with each new book and his characters are usually a memorable bunch. The biggest problem is his endings, Superior Beings and Reckless Engineering would both have been firm 8/10’s until their final 50 or so pages where things spiral out of control into sloppiness. The Fall of Yquatine doesn’t suffer as much as these two but it still has one hell of a lazy finish, which dampens but does not ruin a captivating read.

The Shadows of Avalon is not a book I would want to follow up on but Walters takes on the task with formidable skill taking risks with the regulars that Cornell could only dream of in the previous book. One of the reasons The Fall of Yquatine impresses is Walters daring treatment of the regulars, Compassion in particular but much of the work with Fitz and the Doctor is first class too. Lets face facts these regulars are every writers wet dream, right? Compassion turned TARDIS with a real attitude problem, Fitz the intergalactic hippy with his heart on his sleeve and a romantic hero, trying to save as many lives as possible in an impossible situation.

It’s by far Compassion’s best book, even better than her debut novel(s). Rarely did we get this sense of her character and Walters bravely decides to make her more unpredictable than ever. Now the Doctor and Fitz rely on her to get them from place to place she suddenly has a real say in their destination. And rather foolishly the Doctor plants a randomiser in her console, which, in a frightening scene, sends her into a violent rage, disgusted at his abuse of her body. From this point on Compassion is not to be trusted, spitting out Fitz a month in the past (not before attempting to suffocate him unless he rips out the randomiser) and looking for someone who can help her have it removed. In a painful moment the rather pathetic Compassion kills a Doctor who is trying to help, unable to control her reaction to the pain of his treatment. Later she confronts the man who gave the Doctor the randomiser and ties him up inside her console room, threatening to kill him unless he helps regain control of her flight. It’s been a staple of the NAs and the EDAs that the companion should be in violent opposition to the Doctor but now the Doctor needs his companion and she does not trust him at all…the tension is incredible, for once you genuinely doubt that things will be amicably resolved and that the Doctor might be stuffed. Compassion has always been a bit of cold-hearted bitch but here she is SCARY. I like it!

Its been said a thousand quadrillion times before, Fitz Kreiner is writer proof. What seems to have been forgotten in recent years is how much of a GOOD thing this is. Even Bernice was not written as consistently good as Fitz and it isn’t because he is an easy character to write for but because his relationship with the Doctor is so strong and his utterly humane reactions to the horrors of the universe are so easy to empathise with. Walters gives Fitz a healthy dose of the action wisely chooses this emotional character to take the vital role of KNOWING the fate of Yquatine and having nothing he can do about it. Living a month is the past and fully aware of the death of the planet leaves Fitz desperate and depressed. His stint in Il-Ruk’s bar is lovely and his romance with Arielle confidently written, no sweaty sex or anything, just two adults seeking each others company during a rough patch in both of their lives. I was rooting for Fitz throughout, heart sinking as Walters flirts with the idea of Fitz escaping Treaty Day only to have him torn back to Yquatine with no hope of escape. We have seen the companion trapped with no hope of escape situation before but with the Doctor presumed dead and Compassion the reason he is doomed in the first place Fitz’s heartbreaking circumstances feel very real. Poor sod.

It is important to remember this sterling work with the companions because at times the book comes dangerously close to being Doctor Who and the exciting adventure on Yquatine!, the Target novel with lots of funky aliens and planets! Actually I’m being far too harsh because Walters has a good stab at fleshing out the Minerva system, including lots of interesting species and their interactions with each other. His page length and sub plots prevent him from going into too much depth though and the Luvian, the Kukusti, etc are given a basic description and personality but nothing more substantial. Considering the politics at work in the book it is shame much of the story is set around Yquatine because some of the races (especially the crystalline Ixtricite) are tantalisingly underdeveloped.

The Anthaurk are the main baddies of the book but made little impression on me. Could be because of their predictable macho dialogue and attitude, much like the Klingons from any Star Trek series that isn’t DS9 all they talk about is fighting and honour and death. Oh yawn. They also seem monumentally stupid, trying to capture a life form that has destroyed and entire planet and wage war on a treaty of worlds whose combined forces would annihilate them eventually. The Grand Grynarch is especially awful, her clichéd ‘Hahaha! We will conquer all!” attitude trying from her first appearance and painful in her death scene where her monstrous ideals bite her on the arse!

The Omnethoth are much more interesting and was reading hungrily in the middle chapters as the Doctor and the President discover them on Muath. Loved the super-scary moment where they communicate through the Doctor and the clever explanation of their attack on Yquatine, not malice or hatred, just accidental. The universe is a bitch, get used it. It gives the story, particularly this space opera half, a real shot of maturity.

There is one character that emerges from all this space drama with style and that is President Vargeld, fortunate to be caught up in all the plots and seen from many characters POV as a very different person with each person (as pointed out by an earlier reviewer). His obsession with Arielle over the fate of billions did seem a little misguided but love can do funny things to people and it does at least give his character some personal depth. He has some great moments, tense arguments with Fitz, tough decisions to make over the fates of the survivors of Minerva, his ‘ I am not insane’ moment as Compassion opens herself up for him…Vargeld is a regular guy caught up in some extraordinary situations and his mood swings capture the pressure he is under well. Right up to the end where he still questions the Doctor and Fitz’s motives he is a compelling character.

I fail to comprehend how Mike argues the Doctor is basically useless in this book. He is everywhere! Saving Lou and Naomi from the Yquatine massacre, sticking close to the President as he rushes off into danger, making contact with the Omnethoth, attempting to find a peaceful solution, his troubles with Compassion…he seems to be on edge of insanity throughout, boggling at how stupid the people around him are being. His lecture on how unfair the universe is was one of the highlights of the book and his trouble relationship with his TARDIS shocks and delights throughout. It’s a shame the post-amnesia Doctor isn’t present in this book because he would punch Vargeld’s lights out! He’d deck Zendaak too! Just in time to tell Compassion where to get off for being so out of control. But alas he still cuts quite an imposing figure trying to minimise the death count in this lethal situation, further proof that the eighth Doctor was coming out of his shell in the latter half of Steve Cole’s era.

Its such a shame that after such an incredible build the ending is so…obvious! Its not an unrealistic climax to have the Anthaurk turn on the Grand Grynarch and kill her rather than follow her mad scheme of genocide but it just seems rather easy. In a story, which has dealt with people making tough choices in tense circumstances to have Compassion whip in a sort everything out sells the characters short. I would have liked to see the inhabitant of the Minerva systems sort themselves out, for Fitz to have to survive the Treaty Day attack on his own wits (Compassion whips in and saves him too). Only the Doctor manages to achieve something Compassion-free and his arrival on a cloud of Omnethoth is a classic moment. It seems bizarre that Compassion would even give a shit about the political situation since she has spent most of the book rather selfishly worried about herself.

But even the ending cannot take away how readable and engaging this book is, it has a clear plot which is full of good surprises, some excellent characterisation (especially of the regulars) and is written in a snappy prose style that leaps of the page (I read the thing in four hours). Flawed, yes but far, far better than its reputation suggests, this is just the sort of hard as nails story the book range should try out more because this mix of tragedy and drama is quite intoxicating.

Edward Funnell

For a novel that restores any lost faith in the direction of the 8DA's, Walters's second book for the range is disparaging of nature. The universe is an unpredictable mesh of cause and effect - a monolith of event that inveigles its way into the life of species, throwing its' spores of luck at tangents which are neither pre-ordained or precise. The events that are the core of Fall of Yquatine are as much about being in the wrong place at the wrong time as it is do with luck. And Yquatine is supremely unlucky. It is also supremely unsalvageable. Even the flexibility of time offers no solution to the decimation that is rained on Yquatine - even at the end. The theory of "a big, bad universe" for the Doctor and his companions has never been more effectively played out as it has here.

Walters' quashes any question of the revelations in Avalon developing into a style of Who that is unrecognisable from old. The author winds developments around a traditional political disaster plot. The aftermath of the Fall allows players to assess their role in the Minerva system allowing the all but obligatory belligerent race the upper hand as it tries to make capital out of the universe's bad deal. Issues of xenophobia are entwined with the fight for survival. The air is heavy with a sense of desperation and loss. Whether intentional or not this continuation of the themes in Avalon presents a sense of continuity. The threat of the Omnethoth - which is as simple as it is relentless - adds to the sense of despair. There is no mendacity or forethought in its actions over and above its original programming and, of course, fate. This underpins the general concept, making it more terrible for just being there.

Away from the plot, the loss of "ol Blue" enables the Compassion strand of the narrative to twist in ways unimaginable with the Type 40. Whereas the original TARDIS was little more than a means of conveyance (which was customarily dispatched in order to strand its occupants in whichever scenario the writer conjured up for them), the new TARDIS is unpredictable, dangerous and suffused with its own agenda. An act by the Doctor is the catalyst for Compassion to feel not only pain but fear. The development of the character - which was frighteningly unpredictable at the end of Avalon - begins to formulate a sense of reality. The Doctor having to come to terms with Compassion as a sentient being as opposed to a tool for his travels provides a valuable insight into darker, more selfish, aspects of the Eighth Doctor. That Compassion has power, but is still struggling to control that power, is a voyage of self-discovery. One novel on and the idea of travelling through time and space in Compassion not only seems a plausible change for the range, but a positive addition.

The Doctor is portrayed well by Walters. Like in Anghelides novel, he is more reliant on others, more prone to mistakes and infinitely more human. Interestingly, the resolution is only part of his making. The calm after the storm is finally the result of deeds undertaken by Compassion. The Doctor's solution is not only ignored but brutally discarded. What the timelord has not lost is his sense of justice in the face of universal odds. His reaction to the Omnethoth is one of containment. He deliberately conceals the path of its destruction from the Senate because of his deep-rooted sense of fair play. The gestalt cannot be blamed for its actions, so it should not be destroyed. His thinking, ultimately, is too noble for humans. Which is as it should be.

Fitz once again undergoes a transformation - this time on a psychological level. It is interesting that Walters has Fitz witness the destruction of Yquatine and then have him unceremoniously dumped one month before the event. Fitz is left not only with the knowledge but the fear that any disruption to the timeline might, in effect, be the cause of the outcome. Walters develops this fully within the concept of the universe being an unstoppable creation. Fitz spends much of the novel attempting to leave Yquatine and when he does he condemns someone that he has begun to love. The guilt that is played out is tangible and effective. Perhaps the only criticism with the whole Fitz sub-plot is that his customary "luck with the ladies" means that he is now emotionally overloaded with doomed or impossible love affairs. It would be interesting to see Fitz have to deal with a crisis of confidence that did not in some way tie back to the feminine of the species. Walters, however, writes confidently for Fitz - a coward lost in a universe that has exposed him to more brutality, loss and adventure than his own timeline should have allowed. That he questions whether his exposure to the Faction Paradox has made him an unlucky chap to be around is significant.

Of the other players, President Vargeld appears a youthful and over emotional choice for the Senate. The concept that he escapes the fate of Yquatine because of his selfish love for Arielle is forgivable for a man desperately in love but not for a system wide leader. That this love almost ends in outright war points to incompetency on a grand scale. Then again, the idea that we are all, essentially, only human supplies a lot of the dynamic for the novel. Arielle in her role as doomed heroine is nicely played out - it is much more satisfying that there are no magic cures or surprises for her than if she had simply walked away at the end of the novel.

As with Dominion, Walter's has picked up some good skills from Leonard in portraying alien species convincingly. There is logic and interest in each of the alien protagonists in this novel and it is compliment to think that each of the worlds could potentially do with a visit in future novels. My only gripe with Walter's is that he seems to have a predilection for black masses whether this be of the entropic variety (a la Dominion) or of the more belligerent kind in Yquatine.

In parts, Yquatine is a somewhat heavy and depressing read. It is, however, a much better novel than much of the BBC Books that have gone before it prior to the beginning of the Compassion arc. As indicated at the beginning of this review, it restores faith that the format can withstand progressive and adventurous developments without losing the core of what makes good Who. It also reintroduces a certain "randomness" to the Doctor's travels which, after all, is pretty much how it all started.

Robert Smith?

In brief: Superb stuff. An interesting story flowers into an unputdownable one before our eyes.

Spoilers follow.

Going in, everything I knew about this book led me to believe it would be a rather dodgy read. Having enjoyed Dry Pilgrimage quite a lot, after Dominion, I put most of its success down to the serendipitous merging of the different styles of Leonard and Walters. Nick Walters' first full length novel inspired anything but confidence. While full of some interesting ideas, it lacked the focus sorely needed to realise it as a novel proper. Following the climactic events of The Shadows of Avalon could be dangerous; in many ways this book has to set the tone of things to come. In the hands of a careless author, this could be a recipe for disaster of Sam-Jones-in-Vampire-Science proportions.

The Fall of Yquatine, however, is an excellent novel. Contrary to the EDA house style, it starts off interesting and manages to remain so throughout the entire book. There's a confidence here that was lacking in Dominion and a real sense that Walters has really grasped a great deal about how to get his interesting ideas across in a reader-friendly manner. It reminded me a lot of Frontier Worlds in the way that there was more going on than just good ideas or big events; the execution of those ideas and events also manages to consistently entertain throughout -- something of a radical idea in Who fiction these days.

Fall has a lot of stuff that's masquerading as familiar Who, with power struggles between humans and aliens, clever time travel malarky, well thought-out worldbuilding and a strong focus on the regulars to hold it all together nicely.

The Minerva system is quite well done, with the Anthuark walking just the right side of cliche to work. Unfortunately, Walters has a tendency to forget that even though he painstakingly described all manner of aliens in a very exciting paragraph back in Chapter One, by the time we're expected to remember facial descriptions, ceremonial dress and personal hygiene in Chapter Twenty, a reminder or two wouldn't go astray. But that's a fairly minor complaint.

President Vargeld is far more interesting than he appears, being seen from multiple points of view and appearing to be all things to all characters (Fitz sees him as a bully, the Doctor as a bit thick-headed, others as a savvy politician and so forth). It's a fascinating approach and carried off very well. It's a bit of a shame that Arielle doesn't get as much care. She's quite interesting in the first chapter, but then we don't really get much of a handle on her. And Lou Lombardo is completely wasted in this book, despite star-billing on the back cover! I suspect JNT stunt-casting at work.

I really liked the Doctor's role in this book. Despite a characteristic act of gross stupidity early on and some childish wittering about ducks [copyright BBC Books 1997-2000], once he gets a lot to do he comes off rather well.

Fitz is also well done, knowing far too much and unable to do anything about it. I like his reasons for not telling anyone about the coming disaster and the way the book provides us lots of twists with the benefit of foresight, but I think Fitz's resolution to stick to silence right up until the desperate end is a little unrealistic. I'd be hollering out to anyone who'd listen in the last few days if it were me, but it comes together nicely anyway.

And Compassion! Wow! Man, oh man, do things get interesting. Compassion's role turns an interesting story into a gripping one. Anyone who has doubts about the events in The Shadows of Avalon need only read this book for the perfect example of why the books need to be allowed their freedom. Gadzooks, this is good stuff.

I really, really like the balanced focus given to all three regulars. It doesn't matter that some of the supporting cast are under or not at all, in the case of Lou Lombardo developed and that the aliens are a bit too comfortingly familiar in their motivations. I read these books first and foremost for the regular characters and things like Vargeld's characterisation really help solidify things in this department as well.

Overall, The Fall of Yquatine comes highly recommended. It builds magnificently on The Shadows of Avalon, taking a really good story and skillfully turning it into an excellent one. More books like this, please.

Stephen Searle

I have to admit that I am getting rather annoyed with the 8DA authors. It is quite healthy to use the concept of the TARDIS crew arriving before the book opens as an interesting way of leading into the plot perhaps once, possibly two times. Having our resident team do this in almost every book however is another matter. 'Interference', 'Frontier Worlds' and 'Parallel 59' have all been found guilty of this rather heinous crime, and to an extent, so has 'The Fall of Yquatine'. It is annoying and repetitive to constantly miss out on the joy of the TARDIS (old and new) materialising on a new unexplored planet. Please, don't do it or I might be forced to write an opening thirty pages for each book and stick them into my lovely BBC novels, ruining an otherwise unmarred collection! Thank you.

Other than this rather minor complaint, I quite enjoyed the company of the Minerva system for a few nights. It's certainly not the worst BBC book (I won't name any names). It is so easy when reviewing any item of merchandise (for any subject, not just Doctor Who) to forget that the most important aspect you must focus on, is how well did it fulfil its purpose. In the case of Doctor Who books, the intention of the novel is to entertain, therefore a book is probably best reviewed against the enjoyment that stems from reading the novel, not just how much it innovates. Of course, creativity does have a place, especially in the confines of a series of books where it is so easy to regurgitate ideas, leading to boredom in the reader - failing in the designation of the range. This is especially important when considering this book, because if there is one thing the novel lacks, it is originality. This lack of imagination does not however steal so much from the 'Whoniverse' but instead just about every other Sci-fi story that has stood before it. I will not even try to list the programs which could so easily sue for breach of copyright, simply for the fact that it wouldn't ruin the satisfying game of 'Spot-the-show' which can be played for the entire length of the novel. I do however feel that these 'stolen parts' do come together to produce something rather more fulfilling than Frankenstein's Monster - more a variety show with 'Doctor Who' as its star guest.

You could argue that an alien invasion and an unstable peace treaty are perhaps not the best formula for a 'Grade-A' novel, but in truth I spent the entire novel much more interested in the fate of the Doctor's two companions. I am hoping that Compassion will not become a Doctor Who version of Knight Rider's KIT. Unfortunately, this book does not offer any unpredictable developments of her character - she can't deal with the change, she doesn't think anyone else will understand - this angst is too predictable and leaves you feeling little empathy with the Doctor's new TARDIS. I hope the wind changes to take her in a different direction (although not too quickly : she might get stuck like that - okay it wasn't funny!).

Fitz on the other hand really excels himself in this novel (even if he does shack up with another bird beginning with A. In the last four books we've had Anya, Alura and now Arielle - alright, call me picky.), providing us with a real source of anguish, a hopelessness that is needed to make any story work. He is stranded in the past for most of the novel, knowing that Yquatine is going to be invaded and millions, including himself, will be slaughtered. This is Fitz doing what he does best: wallowing in his own self pity (probably rightfully so) whilst using good luck and quick wit to bluff his way through the story - just enough to survive. Thankfully his character has been returned to former glories after a dismal portrayal in 'Parallel 59' and near absence in 'The Shadows of Avalon'

The Doctor was, by far, the weakest character. I know that this Doctor likes to let his companions have his independence, but practically forgetting them for the length of the novel to protect a giant cloud hardly seems fair. Sure, he is erratic, but you need more than one quality to create character - especially the Doctor, who should be the person we are most interested in. He was so dreadful in this novel, I found the guest characters more captivating, which is very silly! This book range isn't called 'President Vargeld' or 'Arielle', it's named after our favourite Time Lord, perhaps Nick Walters should remember that for next time!

To summarise this somewhat succinct judgement (There isn't much more to say about this shallow affair!), 'The Fall of Yquatine' is an entertaining read which won't challenge you for a second. Some characters are excellent, some are, well, less than excellent (to put it kindly). If I had to put it on par with other 8DA novels, it would fall smack bang in the centre. Completely mediocre (buy it though, it's Doctor Who!).

Brian Copeland

I was expecting not to like this book. Why? Because I have been constantly disappointed with the BBC range of books by following the age-old pattern of having an excellent book and following it up with crap.

However, Nick Walters did exactly the opposite. He created an excellent world, with great, three dimensional characters, a practically unstoppablel villain, and a plethora of cool races that rivalled the cantina scene in Star Wars: A New Hope, and much much more.

The story involves the Doctor asking Compassion to land on the planet of Yquatine, a planet of beauty and racial diversity. The Doctor meets an old pie-maker friend who just happens to have time technology on sale. He purchases and installs a Randomiser in Compassion to make it almost impossible for anyone to track her down (especially the Time Lords).

But all goes wrong. A mysterious invader begins killing everything with a corrosive acid that destroys a person in a horrifying few seconds. Compassion saves Fitz but drops him off one month in the past. The Doctor narrowly escapes and becomes a voice of peace when the surviving senate begins declaring war on everything out of fear and anger. And Compassion begins travelling in time for decades to try to remove the Randomiser and get back to Fitz and the Doctor.

I don't want to give too much away with this book, but it is excellent. The character of Arielle was perfect for Fitz. Even though they never got to sleep together, Fitz began to fall in love with her. He is really beginning to mature. Fitz is no longer the Shag-O'-The-Day Harbinger of Good Times, but a mature thirty something. It also seems that he is beginning to tire of travelling with the Doctor. Seeing so much death and destruction on a large scale would make anyone want to hang out in '60's London.

The President was a strange character. One minute he was a strong compassionate leader, showing the people his strength in time of needs, the next minute he a petty childish jealous lover, the next minute he is a caniving backstabber willing to wage war on anything semi-reptillian. He mentally covered the entire rainbow, and never stayed in the same place long enough to really like him. In fact, I found it hard to taking a liking to him at all.

The Grand Gynarch was an interesting leader. She reminded me of the Klingons of Star Trek VI. SHe would rather fight and lose than live under a treaty with the Minerva System.

The Doctor got to be Doctor-ish for much of the novel, although much of what he did was meaningless. For example, he re-programmed the Omnethoth so that they became friendly jelly-fish creatures, and they were arbitrarily destroyed. But the scenes that the Doctor's activities weren't for naught, he really shined.

Compassion was excellent. After having a story arc leading up to her tranformation, even though she was practically non-existant throughout the arc, we finally get to delve into her character, and experience her anger. It also shows that not everything the Doctor does is all that good. The Doctor installed the Randomiser into Compassion with good intentions, and it was probably a good idea, but it caused her so much pain she went insane, Fitz was almost killed, an innocent surgeon was killed.

And finally we got a plausible explanation for the 'let's bring dead people back to life' fairy dust from the TV movie. Apparently TARDIS's can invade someone freshly deceased with a blast of artron energy and try to revive them. I liked this. Oh sure, it was a stupid idea to begin with in the TVM, but it was nice that someone made the effort to explain it, and fit it into some sort of continuity. And give some limitations of it.

I have to give this book two thumbs way up. Nick Walters gave us another exciting story, with great characters, a good ending (although the President changing his character constantly was a bit of an annoyance), and some very exciting new races of creatures. Compassion new powers get explored, and Fitz is developed even more. He is the Professor Bernice Summerfield of the EDA's. A great book all around. I am turing into a big fan of Nick! Keep writing!