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The Ancestor Cell

By Peter Anghelides & Stephen Cole

Book review by Jamas Enright

This is it, the big one. The book that explains everything that has been, everything about the future war, about the events in Interference, about Faction Paradox, everything. In many ways I'm glad to finally get to this book, something to wrap up the arc that has irritated me for a long time. Finally we get some answers.

The answers are not what anyone could have expected. The nature of the enemy, the plans of Faction Paradox, the Doctor's role in it all. It's an epic tapestry. And one of the worst anti-climaxes since The Trial of a Time Lord Part 14.

Every loose thread that has been hanging is forced into place, and any answer to hang the threads on is taken. The true enemy is an amazing let down, and the focus is moved entirely onto Faction Paradox, belying their otherwise background role in all other events (with the exception of the Third Doctor story in Interference). Is this really the ending that was planned? With plenty of bangs and flashes, The Ancestor Cell desperately wants to be.

Compassion comes into her own here, taking on her own fight when the Doctor refuses to, and justifies herself as her own person. I did care about what happened to her, but it was frustrating in the amount of time the book took to get around to what that fate was. In the end her actions fizzled out rather than give her any real meaning.

Fitz gets sidelined with a subplot that wanted to be intriguing but merely helped to undermine any sense of real oomph the book was going for. However it was amusing when he could see the changes that were happening when the others couldn't.

The Doctor swung from one characterisation to another so much it was hard to get any real sense of him. He was the fool, the hero, the manic, the guru, sometimes even in the space of one chapter. It's hard to tell if he was the centrepiece of the book, or just some way for everything to get done.

The other characters were so bland and stereotypical it was tricky to separate one from the other. Even Romana come across as one-dimensional. Greyjan was amusing, although largely an excuse for major amounts of exposition.

Despite the many problems of The Ancestor Cell I am glad that it has now been and done. Now it is possible to move on without the baggage of the rest of the books, and for that I'm glad. [2/5]

This item appeared in TSV 61 (December 2000).

Index nodes: The Ancestor Cell