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The Menagerie

By Martin Day

Book review by Rochelle Thickpenny

I have read reviews of this book that have been highly critical of its authenticity as a Troughton Missing Adventure. Generally they have nothing good to say about it. I agree only in part with this accusation. Yes, it is miscast as a Second Doctor story. I thought the style of the book could have easily been any one of the Fifth, Sixth or Seventh Doctors, although the basic structure works well with two companions.

Overall I really enjoyed this book. It is written with the Nineties reader in mind, and I often had difficulty visualising it as a Sixties era story. This could give a lot of Troughton readers cause for complaint, but I like the idea of reading a novel that is not outdated for the sake of purity. It has basic elements which I enjoy about Doctor Who. There is a corrupt society who are oppressed by their rulers until the Doctor meddles, an ancient civilisation with a mystery, exploration of different characters as the three travellers get separated (as usual) right at the beginning, science, magic and excitement and a few surprises thrown in for good measure.

Few books rarely get away without any criticism and this is no exception. The parts of the Doctor, Jamie and Zoe lack their true characterisations, particularly at the beginning. Sometimes I was only reminded of who they were by reading their names, and not by their actions. There is a hybrid monster which is a cross between the Alien and Predator monster; Sigourney Weaver Troughton is not, thus forcing the Doctor to attempt things which may not be considered true to form.

An interesting piece of fanboy fantasy creeps in at the end when one of the companions disappears for a few days with a member of the opposite sex; oh where is Mary Whitehouse when you need her! Martin Day creates some interesting characters which fit nicely into The Menagerie's setting. Though some could have been developed more fully, they all have a function. The book has quite a simple plot with not so many continuity crossovers, which is good for those of us who have difficulty with these things in the first place.

If Troughton saturation is what you're after then don't bother with this book, but if you like a bit of mystery and action, then you'll enjoy reading as the Doctor fumbles his way through this tapestry of intrigue.

This item appeared in TSV 45 (September 1995).

Index nodes: The Menagerie