Monday, September 22, 2008

Tenth Doctor and Donna Noble novels

Be warned, spoilers abound!

Ghosts of India - Mark Morris

Mark Morris' Ghosts of India is set in India in 1947 at a time when the country is in the grip of chaos, as it's torn apart by internal strife. When the Doctor and Donna arrive in Calcutta, they are instantly caught up in a riot and parted from each other. Barely escaping with their lives, they soon discover that the city is rife with tales of 'half-made men' who roam the streets at night and steal people away. It is said that these creatures are as white as salt and have only shadows where their eyes should be. With help from India's great spiritual leader, Mohandas 'Mahatma' Gandhi, the Doctor and Donna set out to investigate these rumours. What is the real truth behind the 'half-made men'? Why is Gandhi's role in history under threat? And has an ancient, all-powerful god of destruction really come back to wreak his vengeance upon the Earth?

Well no. It's actually an alien who's capturing India's poor and using them to create its half-made men - but it takes 5 human beings to create one half-made man. To make matters worse, the alien's spaceship is leaking radiation and infecting the populace, causing horrible growths on man and beast alike, and turning any living creature that's affected by the radiation into a psychotic killer.

This story's quite interesting - not least for using Ghandi as a secondary character, but Morris really hasn't captured Donna or her relationship with the Doctor very well. And most of the other minor characters are only sketched in, relying on the reader's knowledge of the "British family in India" stereotypes.

The Doctor Trap - Simon Massingham

In The Doctor Trap, Simon Messingham does a better job of capturing Donna's voice, but this story has a desperately complicated plot that includes a surgically altered double of the Doctor with whom he keeps switching places, a hell of a lot of robots, and a group of 12 hunters known as the Endangered Dangerous Species Society: they make it their business to hunt down the last examples of any species that's about to become extinct in order to make sure the species is wiped out. And now they're on Planet 1 hunting the Last of the Time Lords.

Planet 1 is the creation of Sebastiene, who may look like a 19th century nobleman but most assuredly is not. He is determined to add the Doctor to the collection in his Trophy Room, but the Doctor is equally determined not to be added.

Shining Darkness - Mark Michalowski

Mark Michalowski was responsible for one of my favourite Ten & Martha novels (Wetworld), and it turns out he's also written my favourite Ten & Donna novel: Shining Darkness. Michalowski has Donna's voice down perfectly, and he also captures their relationship beautifully.

For Donna Noble, the Andromeda galaxy is a long, long way from home. But even two and a half million light years from Earth, there's danger lurking around every corner, and a visit to an art gallery turns into a mad race across space to uncover the secret behind a shadowy organisation known as The Cult of Shining Darkness. From the desert world of Karris to the interplanetary scrapyard of Junk, the Doctor and Donna discover that appearances can be deceiving, that enemies are lurking around every corner - and that the centuries-long peace between humans and machines may be about to come to an end.

It's clear to me that Mark Michalowski really likes Donna - at one point she takes on the mantle of The Ginger Goddess to a race of aliens who hold an artefact that the people she's with want to get back - just as he really liked Martha, and that really added to my enjoyment of the book. He captures Donna's willingness to learn from her travels and her ability to change her mind beautifully - this is the Donna who begged the Doctor to save just one family in Fires of Pompeii and didn't hesitate to join him in pulling the lever that would destroy Pompeii but save the world. I recommend this story.

NB - make sure you read the novels in the order above because there are some brief references to The Doctor Trap in Shining Darkness (you can read the last two the wrong way round, 'cos I did, but I wished I hadn't!)

For those who wish for more Ten & Donna stories (there's only one more Ten & Donna novel scheduled for release in January), there is another audio novel coming out in October: The Forever Trap by Dan Abnett (author of the Torchwood novel Border Princes). Like Pest Control, this story will only be available in audio format.

Review x-posted to my LJ.

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