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Lucifer Rising

by Andy Lane and Jim Mortimore

Book review by Chris Girdler

Where Deceit failed as a futuristic action-packed story, Lucifer Rising uses this formula to set itself up as one of the best New Adventures novels. Andy Lane and Jim Mortimore combine their talents, providing a fresh, ambitious adventure story. When you compare the over-long prologues and build-ups of previous New Adventures (Deceit being a good example), Lucifer Rising wastes no time. Despite the novel's length (346 pages), the TARDIS crew are already involved in the Belial base crew's affairs, having landed there a couple of weeks beforehand.

Lucifer Rising is the Twin Peaks of Doctor Who; a complex whodunit that can easily lose the reader in its many subplots. If the novel has any bad points, it is that there are too many irrelevant characters that add little to the story and only complicate a fast-paced plot. Paula Engado is Laura Palmer. She is killed in the prologue and her death is elevated as a much more important event than any other character's demise. A lot is found out about Paula and her relationships with others as the story progresses.

The premise of Lucifer Rising can also be compared with The Robots of Death and Terror of the Vervoids. Both followed the Agatha Christie formula in deep space. Lucifer Rising is a gripping little whodunit where, no matter how hard you try, you cannot guess the killer. It is an especially difficult task when so many of the characters (including Ace), have dark secrets or ulterior motives of their own.

The new, tougher Ace is more convincing here because she has a mission. In Deceit she was there to shoot people and shout orders but she never had an underlying motive for her forcefulness so these alterations had little effect. Never in Doctor Who has a character been given so much in-depth characterisation, and Ace in Lucifer Rising is indeed intriguing, but hopefully the 'spotlight on Ace' syndrome of late will soften sooner or later. The Doctor remains true to form and is given some wonderful lines, as is Benny.

Benny is mostly used as a tool to open up other characters' feelings - the in-depth characterisation is a highlight, from the spiritual beliefs of Miles to Cheryl's losses in love. I would never have imagined that thorough character development and fist-clenching action could be combined so successfully in a Doctor Who book, but Lane and Mortimore certainly pull it off.

What is a hindrance is the interior illustrations by Lee Brimmicombe-Wood, which I was tempted to tear out of my copy. These childish pictures served little purpose because Lucifer Rising is the type of novel that flows, unlike perhaps The Pit (where these sorts of illustrations would have worked better). Jim Mortimore provides the antithesis to these doodles with a stunning evocative cover painting.

The addition of the IMC clan may be an obvious change of direction in such a large novel, but it works so well especially the introduction of the bizarre Legion. Lane and Mortimore use the New Adventures format to create an expansive, intricate location filled with three-dimensional characters. For once, the format has been utilized to its fullest degree in book form. It's about time.

Book review by David Lawrence

After two decidedly average novels, I wasn't sure what to expect from Lucifer Rising. The unappealing cover suggested it would be another average book, so it was with some trepidation that I started reading.

Sometimes there's nothing more pleasing than being proved wrong, and when you expect an average book and get a great one instead, this is definitely the case. Lucifer Rising is an extremely good book with a detailed and well-executed plot.

I can't be bothered with books where the Doctor doesn't turn up till page 59 and doesn't actually become part of the plot until page 80, so from the Doctor's sudden appearance at the end of Chapter One, I was hooked. It's important to grab a reader's attention early on, and that's something The Pit and Deceit failed to do.

Superb characterisation brings the Belial Base personnel to life, and I could see the story as clearly as if it were televised. The Doctor is at his enigmatic best - suspicious, suspected, confused and confusing! Benny seems to be working hard at coping with sobriety; and then there's Ace ... oh, Ace. 'It's not you I hate,' Bernice tells her, 'it's what you've become.' And I think I agree. Ace has changed a lot since she left the Doctor, a lot of which is not necessarily for the better. However this new Ace finds her own answers and often quicker than the Doctor does.

There are many interesting personal conflicts in this story, and some interesting issues, although Cheryl and Paula's relationship is only touched on. The Doctor's dealing with Legion was an almost horrifying moment; at last he is forced to do is own dirty work, this time minus the past cop-outs (such as when he appointed himself Davros's executioner in Resurrection of the Daleks). This could be one of the most important events in the constantly changing characterisation of the Doctor, and annoyingly, it's another of those moments you wish you could have seen done on TV!

Lucifer Rising is up there with Revelation and The Highest Science as one of my favourites - roll on, Blood Heat!

This item appeared in TSV 36 (November 1993).

Index nodes: Lucifer Rising