Upon watching Dr Who - The Missing Years video (the one with the Ice Warriors video), I was very intriged with the snippets of lost stories I had never seen and, in the case of the Smugglers, not read the book either. So, last year I purchased a copy of the book and decided to read it.
It was a most enjoyable novel, written in simplistic but very readable Terrance style. It kicked off right from the end of the War Machines, which was nice, and had the bemused Ben and dipsy Polly transported to 17th centuary Cornwall in the blinking of an eye. From there we get country scenery, windswept beaches, coach inns, a picturesque little church and graveyard. And smugglers. And pirates; these last two being in such equal measure that the story could just as easily be called The Pirates.
Certainly the pirates are a more interesting/evil bunch than the smugglers, of whom we only see.....er, spoilers abound from here....a vainity consumed Squire and the Innkeeper who, whilst not being above unscrupulkous behavoir at least has the moral sense not to kill the Doctor, who helps him escape. But the pirates, well, Captain Pike and the misnamed Cherub, the only two we really see, really steal the story. They threaten, maim and kill like Itchy and Scratchy on a good day and manage to be charasmatic with it.
In fact, most of the people in this tale of smuggled brandy and linen seem to end up dead. Certainly all the people who covet Avery's treasure come to vile, dastardly ends and Avery's curse is not fully explained. In an entirely historical story, could a more supernatural or scientific force be at work? We don't know, and maybe thats for the beat.
A most enjoyable read, good fun. 8 out of 10?