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Blood Harvest

By Terrance Dicks

Book review by David Lawrence

Remember how shocked everyone was when Timewyrm: Exodus turned out to be such a good book? Being a fierce Terrance Dicks basher at the time, I was as surprised as anyone else. My expectations for his second New Adventure were vastly increased.

Like Exodus, Blood Harvest is a sequel of sorts to one of Terrance's TV scripts, State of Decay - in fact, one of his better ones. While the Doctor and Ace run a sleazy bar in Chicago. Bernice is lumbered with the all-knowing Romana on the un-named vampire planet in E-Space. Travel between E-Space and N-Space is suddenly absolutely no problem thanks to K9, we are asked to believe.

The book suffers at times from being a little too melodramatic. I hated the corny "Death to the Doctor! Borusa lives! Rassilon must die!" motto - do the Gallifreyans deal exclusively in appalling dialogue? Did they learn nothing from the Castellan's atrocious "No! Not the mind probe!" in The Five Doctors? I'd hoped we weren't going to visit the Doctor's home planet in The New Adventures - at least not until someone had come up with an original and effective way of dealing with it; instead it is just the dull creaky set of the fourth and fifth Doctor eras.

I hated Dekker. He makes Abslom Daak look witty, charming, sophisticated and intelligent. The suggestion that Ace might be prepared to stay in Chicago with him is ludicrous. And after all she's been through all over the universe; the idea that Ace might be outwitted and nearly raped by a thug in 1929 Chicago is a little unbelievable too.

My big gripe though is that The Pit has been totally ignored. That book is as much a sequel to State of Decay as Blood Harvest is, but no mention is made of the horrific truths revealed to the Doctor by Kopyion. Fine, let's ignore an important piece of continuity. Oh well. Blood Harvest is fast-paced, the action keeps going, and it's a readable, competent book, but nothing spectacular.

At least Sherlock Holmes isn't in it.

Book review by Jamas Enright

Take State of Decay, The Five Doctors and Chicago during the Prohibition, mix them up, and you have Blood Harvest. But, despite the influences, this book can only be described as mediocre.

The plot switches from the Doctor and Ace running a speakeasy in Chicago, to Benny on the planet in State of Decay, sometimes right at a climax. Then, when the story returns, that part is over and a rather boring solution is recounted to explain what happened. Rather a let down, actually. Then the scene shifts to Gallifrey where we learn that Flavia was made President (yeah, right), and the catastrophes incurred by the council in Trial of a Time Lord never seemed to have happened.

Benny was well portrayed following her main interest (archeology, not getting pissed, although there was enough of that). She was shown to be independent and quite self-assured. Having her call on the Doctor when she did was a bad counterpoint to this, though. Ace was shown to be more mellow while still retaining her tough exterior. Her romance with Dekker was quite believable. The Doctor came off quite flat and stuck in the background. While he does know some of what is going on, he isn't being mysterious about it (rather unusually). Romana was well done although slightly more haughty than I thought she should be. When she got back to Gallifrey she did little more than run around for the Doctor. Pity about that. The other main character of note, Dekker, kept reminding me of Decalog's detective, Addison. A good continuity link was missed, I think.

One of the problems of this book was Terrance inserting himself into the proceedings. I could spot where he set up scenes just to get a good one-liner in and there was also references to Exodus, which could have been done without. Not a brilliant effort from Terrance Dicks, but not an awful bomb either, just middle of the road.

This item appeared in TSV 42 (January 1995).

Index nodes: Blood Harvest