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The Room With No Doors

By Kate Orman

Book review by Paul Scoones

Bearing in mind Kate Orman's previous New Adventures excursions into history, I was anticipating a densely packed history lesson on sixteenth century Japan. In fact, and to my welcome relief, the historical setting is little more than a backdrop for the events that unfold. Perhaps I am missing an integral nuance in Kate's story, but it seems to me that the plot could have been set almost anywhere.

The central characters are almost all aliens to the setting, including a very memorable lady time-traveller called Penelope, who comes from the Victorian era. She is a well-rounded and very likeable character most worthy of a return appearance - New Adventures authors take note! The reappearance of a character from one of Kate's previous novels in Penelope's company is a welcome development that allows the author to address the morality of interfering in history, which is of course an issue central to Doctor Who in general.

Such a theme is particularly apt in this, the penultimate seventh Doctor New Adventure. The New Adventures have portrayed the Doctor's seventh incarnation as far more of a meddler in time than any of his previous incarnation, and to have to deal with another time traveller attempting to follow his example is a cunningly brilliant idea to introduce at this late stage in the life-span of 'Time's Champion'.

If not the most prevalent then certainly the most memorable aspect of this novel is the spectre of impending regeneration hanging over the Doctor. Kate goes inside the Doctor's head and shares with us his fears and foreboding as he anticipates the certain fate of death waiting just around the corner. The seventh Doctor knows his time is almost up, and he is filled with dread at the prospect of this particular incarnation becoming trapped within a cell in his own mind - the door-less room of the title. But The Room With No Doors offers more than one manifestation of its title. The imagery and ideas presented here are both complex and memorable. This is quite possibly Kate Orman's strongest novel yet.

This item appeared in TSV 51 (June 1997).

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