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Endgame

By Terrance Dicks

Book review by Paul Scoones

Hot on the heels of a spy drama featuring a trio of real-life characters comes... another much the same. I think it was a mistake to have two very similar books right alongside each other, but then perhaps you don't tell Terrance Dicks how to write novels.

Endgame is a cold war drama, set in the early 1950s when Truman was in the White House, Stalin was in the Kremlin and the world was poised on the brink of nuclear conflict. The Doctor is living in a tawdry London flat, living out a flat, empty existence brought on by having lived half a century with no real recollection of who he is or why he isn't aging like everyone else. The Eighth Doctor as Terrance Dicks writes him here is devoid of his usual Doctorish traits, prone to sudden bouts of violence and not above knocking back glasses of spirits. He's more Pertwee than McGann, and it seems to me as if Dicks' well-known dislike of the TV movie has coloured his whole impression of the Eighth Doctor.

The book is however an enjoyable read due to the strength of the supporting characters. Dicks has an obvious affection for the war years of the mid-twentieth century, evident from novels such as Exodus and Players, and excels in bringing historical characters to life through fiction. His depiction of British master-spies Philby, Burgess and McLean might owe more to cliché than historical fact, but their exploits are so entertaining that I'm prepared to forgive Dicks such shortcomings.

Like every other original Doctor Who novel Dicks has penned, Endgame is a direct sequel to another story, continuing the exploits of the Players from the novel of the same name. I'm tempted to think of these shadowy characters as closely related to Enlightenment's Eternals, and there's precious little information given out about their background and motivations to contradict this theory.

It's thought-provoking that this book, by the most experienced author is the weakest of the four novels so far in the ‘Doctor trapped on Earth’ mini-series — and that the best has been by a first-time Who author. [3/5]

This item appeared in TSV 61 (December 2000).

Index nodes: Endgame