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The Ultimate Treasure

By Christopher Bulis

Book review by Paul Scoones

Christopher Bulis seems to be an author more interested in exploring places rather than characters, whether the setting be ancient Rome, Vortis, Avalon, Arden, DeepCity, the Pacific island Salutua - or the hidden planet Gelsandor. Bulis's characters - including the TARDIS crew - are usually primarily the means to exploring these environments and uncovering the hidden dangers and rewards contained therein.

The Ultimate Treasure is no exception to this formula, and indeed is probably its most transparent example. Bulis has assembled a cast of clearly-defined adventurers, including such stereotypes as the evil villain and his henchmen, the blinkered scientist - the vulnerable young girl and the cowardly charlatan - and set them off on a quest to locate a fabled 'ultimate treasure' on Gelsandor, a planet with featuring a myriad of mindbogglingly huge or deceptive obstacles designed to foil all but the most perceptive and resourceful of treasure-seekers.

The quest through dangerous territory to gain a great prize is among the most basic and obvious of fantasy fiction plots, and unfortunately there is little to distinguish Bulis's novel from a slightly technology-based Dungeons & Dragons scenario.

This is a Fifth Doctor adventure - making Bulis the first author to have written an original novel for each of the first seven Doctors - but the Doctor's involvement is remarkably slight. It's probable that Bulis has deliberately followed the style of the Davison era, in which the Doctor often took a background role in events until the situation demanded more of him. With a growing collection of truly 'Doctor-less' novels at our disposal, however, a legitimate Doctor Who novel in which our favourite Time Lord skulks in the background simply isn't that appealing. [2/5]

This item appeared in TSV 52 (November 1997).

Index nodes: The Ultimate Treasure