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By Marc Platt

Book review by Paul Scoones

At long last the story of the Doctor's earliest origins and family history is revealed - or is it? This dark and grim tale is set largely within the confines of the Doctor's ancestral home on Gallifrey and owes a considerable debt to Mervyn Peake's Gormenghast trilogy in its portrayal of the House of Lungbarrow's strange and bizarrely named inhabitants.

Lungbarrow started life as a television story submission that was ultimately replaced by Ghost Light when the producer decreed that it was unwise to demystify the Doctor's background. If John Nathan-Turner had been aware that the show was in its last season, he might have reconsidered. Virgin Publishing had forewarning that their own tenure was about to come to an end when they commissioned Marc Platt to revive his unused TV story as a full-length novel. The story serves as an effective and poignant closure to the Seventh Doctor's era, wrapping up many minor plot strands associated with the New Adventures, especially those involving Romana and Dorothee, both of whom have important roles to play in the adventure.

The story is in many ways a sequel to Marc Platt's earlier New Adventure, Time's Crucible, in that it explores in greater detail the Pythia myth, the mystery concerning Rassilon, Omega and the Other, and the Looms. It is a story rich in texture but full of mystery. Very little is explained outright however, and certain events appear to have been left deliberately obscure. I suspect that whether Lungbarrow proves to be a frustrating or enjoyable experience depends very much on what the reader hopes to learn from the book. One thing is for sure; it is very well written and I for one found it immensely satisfying. I mourn the loss of the Seventh Doctor, but I could not have hoped for a better story to serve as his swan song.

This item appeared in TSV 51 (June 1997).

Index nodes: Lungbarrow