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The Mind Robber

by Peter Ling

Book review by Paul Scoones

The last of our book reviews for this issue focuses on a book from Troughton's last season, the same one that The Seeds of Death came from. There is a distinct advantage in getting the original writer to novelise his/her own story and Peter Ling does it particularly well.

Although this is only his first novel for the series, and probably his last, he writes with a confident and knowledgeable style. There is little to fault with this book; purists might not like the fact that Ling has changed both the beginning and end of the story so that it no longer runs smoothly over the story links with the two Ian Marter books, The Dominators, and The Invasion but it doesn't bother me. Unlike a lot of the Target range, this book is a glowing tribute to the serial on which it is based. No other writer other then Peter Ling could have achieved this so effectively.

You probably know that The Mind Robber is a strange, surrealistic story set in the Land of Fiction, controlled by the Master (Not the Master we know), an elderly gentleman who used to write adventure stories for the 'Ensign'. He is supposed to be the villain of the piece, but he, like all the other characters, is so well written you can't help but feel something for him long before the Doctor 'reforms' him. The late Patrick Troughton's Doctor shines right out of the page; Peter Ling has captured the perfect essence of the much-loved Second Doctor.

Ling really went to town on his fictional' characters as well - the Karkus is brilliant, and there's a wonderful description of the Gorgon coming to life.

Perhaps the crowning achievement, though, is the skillful way in which Ling tells the whole of Part One in flashback through the Doctor's mind. Peter Ling didn't write this part, as it was added on at a late date by script editor Derrick Sherwin, but the author has given it more links with his own episodes than Part One originally had. Good novels are always written by the original scriptwriter; Black Orchid and Fury from the Deep will go down in Doctor Who history as being rare masterpieces, and The Mind Robber must surely join them.

This item appeared in TSV 2 (September 1987).

Index nodes: The Mind Robber