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Eye of Heaven

By Jim Mortimore

Book review by Paul Scoones

In all the time that Virgin was publishing Missing Adventures they never once did a Fourth Doctor and Leela novel, so BBC Books' Eye of Heaven is a first for this pairing. Suitably, it's a particularly strong story for Leela's character; she narrates large sections of the adventure from her somewhat unusual outlook on life which as a fusion of primitive principles and degenerated remnants of a once technologically advanced peoples makes her perhaps the best 'authority' to commentate on an encounter with Easter Island's primitive people who are somehow connected to something beyond Earth's technology.

As with Eternity Weeps, Mortimore's novel is constructed from alternating narrative viewpoints, which principally include Leela, the guilt-ridden nineteenth-century explorer Horace Stockwood and the Doctor himself. Getting inside any Doctor's head is a challenge for an author, but the Fourth Doctor represents a particular obstacle and in finding an 'inner voice' for this most eccentric incarnation, Mortimore seems to have drawn as much on the real-life Tom Baker as much as the character he played.

The alternating viewpoints are unsettling enough - starting a new chapter often provokes a guessing game until the narrator's identity is established through sometimes quite subtle clues - but even more disorientating is the book's scrambled time line of events; one plot line picks up with the adventure already under way, whilst a second strand begins much earlier. The pattern is easy to follow once you recognise the chapter alternations, but at the end things unfortunately seemed to fall apart and even after a repeat reading of the last couple of chapters I wasn't entirely certain how things were resolved.

I applaud Mortimore's attempts at giving his story greater complexity through experimental narrative, but if it is to be entirely successful, the plot needs to be adequately resolved at the conclusion, and this one unfortunately wasn't. Still, it was a lot of fun getting there! [3/5]

This item appeared in TSV 53 (March 1998).

Index nodes: Eye of Heaven